President Trump is approaching the end of his first full year in office with an impressive and growing list of achievements.
Sadly, you may have missed this because of his incontinent tweeting, the apocalyptic warnings of the Democrats and the #resistance, and the escalating brawl between the White House and big media outlets.
Trump on Monday issued his official National Security Strategy which stated accurately, “We crushed … ISIS terrorists on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq, and will continue pursuing them until they are destroyed.”
On Tuesday, the president is expected to applaud the passage of the biggest tax reform in 30 years which, assuming it passes, he will sign, lowering taxes for almost everyone.
One of the narratives of 2017 has been that Trump and Republicans on Capitol Hill have failed to achieve anything substantive. This has always been untrue, but in recent weeks it has become a ridiculous fiction. Amid drama, protest, miscues, and unprecedented political vitriol, real conservative victories are being achieved for America.
First, and perhaps foremost in the long term, Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. He should be regarded not simply as a conservative “vote” on the high court, but as a man committed to restrained, textualist jurisprudence and a top-tier intellect on crucial issues such as religious liberty. We suspect that Gorsuch will set precedent that lasts for generations.
When Trump was running for office, and after he was elected, many conservatives said he could not be trusted to nominate textualists, was a liberal at the core, and would, to avoid fights, stack the bench with "pragmatists" ready to make the law up as they went along.
This idea has been turned, literally, into a joke by the administration, as Trump has also stocked lower courts with fine justices, appointing more appellate nominees in his first year than any president before him. These men and women are almost all superbly qualified, will do good work, and are filling a reservoir of talent for the next Supreme Court vacancy.
The president's foremost role is as commander in chief of the armed forces. In this, Trump had promised to “kick the [tar] out of ISIS,” and he has generally delivered. By unleashing his commanders, the president accelerated the destruction of the terrorist organization’s control of territory.
The tax cut will be another major win. Cutting the corporate tax rate by 40 percent is a massive boost to American commercial competitiveness. Doubling the standard deduction for individual filers is also a huge reform. It reduces distortions and will materially improve the finances of millions of families.
The bill also, at last, opens up the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration, a move long overdue.
And it repeals Obamacare’s oppressive individual mandate, which forced millions of people to buy insurance they didn't want and could not use.
Trump has rolled back costly and intrusive regulations. Most recently, the Federal Communications Commission, headed by Trump-appointed Ajit Pai, voted to undo the Obama administration’s ham-fisted net neutrality regulations.
The administration has also moved to broaden safe harbors from the birth control mandate. Nuns whom Obama tried to force to buy medications that their faith abhorred have reason to cheer.
Other economically destructive regulations have also been unwound, and Trump has started the process of extricating the U.S. from the Paris climate accord.
Arcane though some of these accomplishments seem, they are crucial to economic health and to starting the long process of scaling government back to its proper role.
But even limiting oneself to contemplation of the most obvious accomplishments, Trump should be credited, in his first year, with cutting taxes, nearly wiping a potent foreign enemy off the map, and placing excellent jurists on the federal bench.
The wails of his opponents, most comically and hyperbolically represented by the cry of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., that the tax bill is "Armageddon" and "the end of the world," amply demonstrate that Trump, far from having no accomplishments, is getting rather a lot done.