President Trump appears to have seen some news coverage Friday morning that mentioned his fast-approaching 100-day mark. And he decided that he does not like this arbitrary standard — at all.
No matter how much I accomplish during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days, & it has been a lot (including S.C.), media will kill!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2017
As with many things, Trump used to feel quite differently about this.
First, there's Trump's “Contract with the American Voter,” which uses the same “ridiculous standard” of 100 days to promise all manner of things. “What follows is my 100-day action plan to Make America Great Again,” the contract begins.
The contract concludes: “On November 8th, Americans will be voting for this 100-day plan to restore prosperity to our economy, security to our communities and honesty to our government. This is my pledge to you.”
It was also a part of his stump speech in the closing days of the campaign. He spoke literally dozens of times about “what we can accomplish in the first 100 days of a Trump administration.”
And Trump seemed to be okay with the 100-day standard just last week in an interview with Fox Business: “I don't think that there is a presidential period of time in the first 100 days where anyone's done nearly what we've been able to do.”
But even setting the transparent flip-floppery aside, the tweet is telling. It suggests that Trump isn't nearly as confident about his early accomplishments as he led us to believe in that Fox Business interview. In fact, it suggests he realizes things aren't going well.
If you truly believe that you've had the most productive 100 days of any president ever, there is no real reason for you to quibble with the idea that you'll be judged on the basis of that period of time. You only quibble with this standard if it doesn't suit you.
Yes, even in the tweet, Trump argues that he has accomplished great things that he will not get credit for. But if he really thinks the media is out to get him and undersell his accomplishments, why does he think that's going to change after 100 days? Why focus on the standard, rather than just the allegedly unfair media coverage?
It's a tell. Trump talks a big game — everything about him is the greatest and the best — but he can only spin the failure to repeal Obamacare so far. And no matter how much he doubts that polls, unless they are off by double digits, he's doing worse in the public's opinion than every president in modern history.
To ignore these things completely requires blinders that I'm not even sure Trump has in his collection. So Trump is basically saying: I need more time before you judge me.
Maybe the 100-day standard is ridiculous! And maybe Trump will wind up truly Making America Great Again! But this attempted mulligan on the 100-day standard suggests Trump, in his heart of hearts, knows the truth about where things stand.