Love him or hate him, life was never boring with Donald Trump in the White House.
He may have advised his voters to inject themselves with bleach to combat the deadliest viral pandemic of the modern era, and his finger may have been hovering over that mysterious red button under his desk as relations with China and Iran became increasingly fractious, but it was rarely dull – which you’d expect when an entrepreneur is elevated to the position of the most powerful person in the world.
Joe Biden was in office for less than 12 hours before he started reversing some of the policies that Trump had implemented, signing 15 executive orders straight off the bat that changed the federal stance on immigration, climate change and the response to the pandemic.
He will be a different type of president to Trump, of course, and is arguably the kind of level-headed individual needed in these – cliché alert – unprecedented times.
But not everybody will be happy to see Trump go, the strangely-coiffured bogeyman who delivered on his promise to stamp down on immigration – building a massive wall, for starters, as well as overseeing a regime of tax cuts and a business landscape that saw the stock exchanges in the US hit all-time highs.
So was Trump as bad as many consider him to be….or was he even worse?
The Best of Trump: Making America Great Again
Taken in isolation, the concept of ‘Making America Great Again’ is a fantastic slogan for a would-be President – a chest-thumping rallying cry that supporters and floating voters can really get behind. Douglas Schoen described it as ‘probably the most resonant campaign slogan in recent history.’
In the end, MAGA was weaponised by right-wing meatheads in little red baseball caps, but those were four words that – most importantly – stuck in the minds and the consciousness of the voter, and that is key to the success of any election campaign.
Whether Trump himself thought up the slogan is debatable – after all, Ronald Reagan used ‘let’s make America great again’ in his successful 1980 campaign, but it’s fair to say that those four little words meant a huge amount to a cross-section of Americans who felt let down by the previous administration.
The Worst of Trump: The Assassination of James Comey
All presidents, no matter which side of the political fence they sit on, have wielded their power to get people around them that they like and believe will support them come what may.
But Trump used his power in a manner that can only be described as lunk-headed, and firing former FBI chief James Comey simply because he did not agree with the president’s politics is just one reason why Trump’s reign will forever be tainted.
Comey, you may recall, oversaw an investigation into the 2016 elections – the ones that saw Trump sweep to power – over claims that Russia had been involved in vote rigging and collusion.
Despite Comey allegedly repeating on a number of occasions that Trump wasn’t personally under investigation, The Don didn’t take too kindly to the FBI chief’s meddling and fired him less than five months after ascending to the White House.
The Best of Trump: Tax Cuts for the People
Whether you agreed with him or not, it’s fair to say that Trump was a man of his word when it came to *some* of the promises he made to the American people.
Yes, he did try and build a massive wall separating the US from Mexico, and did deliver a significant tax cut to the people as promised.
His Tax Cuts and Jobs Act 2017 was an amendment of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, and delivered tax cuts to both individuals and businesses as a percentage of their income while limiting the number of ‘exemptions’ that enabled some to wriggle out of paying their full tax bill.
There were critics of the system – it did mean that top earners paid less tax, including many Trump allies and donors, but ultimately many families of all income levels benefitted from the regime.
The Worst of Trump: Storm in a D Cup?
The problem with taking a prominent position in the public eye is that your past can later come back to haunt you.
Stormy Daniels was an ‘adult actress’ with whom Trump is alleged to have had an affair back in 2006. The fact that $130,000 was paid to Daniels prior to the 2016 election – and that she was made to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement – would suggest that the rendezvous did actually happen.
Worse was to come. Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, admitted making the payment on behalf of the would-be presidential candidate, and that was against the rules of the State Bar of New York which prohibits such payments being made. Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison.
As for Trump, he brushed off the allegations, and despite having to reimburse Cohen and later pay court-ordered damages to Daniels, he pretty much escaped the whole episode unscathed.
The Best of Trump: Business Boom
Even accounting for the damages caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Trump trails only Obama and Clinton in the history of American presidency for stock market performance during his tenure.
What’s more, the Dow Jones returned 56% higher throughout his term in office, with annual gains of 11.8% the best of any Republican president since the 1920s. The Dow hit 126 all-time highs on Trump’s watch, which was three more than Obama – remember, he served two terms in the White House.
It may be that Trump wanted a buoyant stock market to help his own investments (come on, you know he has skin in the game) and those of his closest friends and allies, but even so millions around the world benefitted from the bull run that he oversaw.
The Worst of Donald Trump: How Not to Handle a Pandemic
Injecting yourself with disinfectant and shining UV rays onto your skin.
Businessman, politician, scientist? No, Trump has no chance of the latter given his jaw-dropping advice to Americans in how to protect themselves from COVID-19.
Naturally, medical professionals were quick to reject his esoteric ideas, but clearly we shouldn’t be taking advice on such things from a man who once stared directly at a solar eclipse.
The Best of Trump: World Peace?
To some, it’s almost laughable that Donald Trump was thought to be a leading candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize in both 2018 and 2019.
But he did something that no American president in history has done – sitting down with the ruling leader of North Korea to try and thrash out some kind of peace treaty.
Trump was actually a figurehead in drawing up the Panmunjom Declaration, an agreement of peace (of sorts) between the North and the South over the Korean Peninsula.
While unlikely to yield world peace or even harmony in Korea, ultimately, you can’t fault Trump for trying – not many others would fancy making the trip to North Korea, and all the risks that brings.
The Worst of Trump: No Concession
There’s nothing worse than a sore loser.
And that’s exactly what Donald Trump revealed himself to be when refusing to concede the election to Joe Biden despite losing fair and square.
The Capitol Hill riots, which saw five people lose their lives amid the anarchy, were a direct consequence of Trump’s refusal to admit that democracy had been upheld, and that – in its own way – is the most damaging legacy of his presidency. Precedents have been set, and that is a very dangerous thing indeed….
So farewell, Donald Trump. He was something to everybody….good or bad.