WHAT’S THE STORY?

US President Donald Trump today marks his first 100 days in office – an accomplishment that has become an important benchmark, although these first three months are generally less productive than they were in the heady days of figures such as Harry Truman.

In the first 100 days of his first full term in office in 1948, Truman (who took over when Franklin D Roosevelt died in 1945) signed 55 bills into law, while George W Bush only managed seven.

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According to Sean Spicer, the White House’s combative press secretary, Trump has been more productive than any president since Truman, and has signed 28 bills so far. He told journalists: “Despite the historic obstruction by Senate Democrats, he’s worked with Congress to pass more legislation in his first 100 days than any president since Truman, and these bills deliver on some of his most significant promises to the American people.”

As a means of assessing productivity, the first 100 days parameter doesn’t give more than a rough guide. None of the bills Trump has signed into law are particularly significant, compared to those of presidents who had to cope with events such as the Great Depression (Roosevelt) and Truman (the end of the Second World War).

Pundit Lord Michael Ashcroft, sussing out opinion in Texas, says that while it may be a ridiculous way to judge success – as The Donald tweeted last week – it is important in terms of public perception.

DID TRUMP TWEET POLICY PLANS?

TRUMP has tweeted just about everything since before he moved into the White House, and much of the media coverage of his first 100 days has focussed on his social media habits.

Time magazine described his Twitter feed as “a telling log of what moved the national conversation”, and highlights the top ten talking points.

They include an “uncharacteristically anodyne tweet” after his inauguration in which he defended the protesters’ right to freedom of speech; his signing of an executive order over what was dubbed the Muslim travel ban; a further claim that it wasn’t a ban – just keeping “bad people out”; and a criticism of Daesh.

CNN also highlighted some of Trump’s top Twitter tirades, which included his fake news rant: “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”

The network then broke down the president’s tweets into the following six categories: typical presidential, political comment or argument, personal attack, complaining about the press, conspiracy theory and self-plugs.

WHAT DO THE PEOPLE THINK?

MANY pundits and opposition groups said Trump’s would be a divisive presidency and, if the first 100 days are anything to go by, it surely is looking that way with strong divisions across party lines.

Usually, presidents start their term of office with high approval ratings that tend to tail off, but Trump appears to have had the worst start of any post-war president.

A Gallup poll in The Economist compared the first 100 days of Obama and Trump, when the former started off at just below 60 per cent approval, before dropping to just over 30. Trump started at zero and descended to minus 15.

His approval rating among Republicans is 85 per cent, but down in the solid red state of Texas, where Ashcroft is carrying out his research, a new poll suggests 54 per cent of Texans disapprove of the job he’s doing compared to 42 per cent who approve.

Ashcroft says most of those who voted for Trump in November had “retained their ardour”. They said he was already delivering on jobs with Ford “bringing back their plants”, but few thought the Mexican wall was practical.

They liked what they saw as a refreshing change in direction, and one woman from an Ashcroft focus group said: “He’s crude and rude, almost, but he’s right about everything.

“He was right about the jobs, being taxed too much, you know, we need to see it in our paycheck instead of taking it from us. We’re doing all the work and they’re just spending like nuts up there.”

Some, however, found the president’s approach to the job frustrating: “The man is his own worst enemy. He does something where at least Republicans would say OK, that’s a good step, something positive, and then he’ll go and put something on Twitter that makes him sound not so smart and kind of undo what he just did.”

Ashcroft found the president’s preoccupation with Twitter to be a recurring theme, although some had expected him to calm down on social media after he took office: “When I saw that he was still tweeting and it was the same style and the same arrogance, I was like, OK, you’re not supposed to be tweeting, you’re supposed to be taking care of business.”

Some were more forgiving, saying he would become more presidential with time.

The Washington Post summed up Trump’s first 100 days in 32 words: “President Trump surprised everyone by announcing that he’d take a break from pretending he had a [fill in the blank] plan to pretend he had a [fill in the blank] plan, instead.”

It said: “This week, the blanks were ‘health-care reform’ and ’tax reform’. Last week, they were ’tax reform’ and ’health-care reform’. And the one before that, they were, you guessed it, ’health-care reform’ and ’tax reform’. The problem, you see, is that Trump doesn’t know enough about what he’s trying to negotiate to, well, negotiate.”