Trump could be the most hon­est pres­i­dent

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - OPINION - Marc A. Thiessen Colum­nist

Don­ald Trump may be re­mem­bered as the most hon­est pres­i­dent in mod­ern Amer­i­can his­tory.

Don’t get me wrong, Trump lies all the time. He said that he “en­acted the big­gest tax cuts and re­forms in Amer­i­can his­tory” (ac­tu­ally they are the eighth largest) and that “our econ­omy is the strong­est it’s ever been in the his­tory of our coun­try” (which may one day be true, but not yet). In part, it’s a New York thing — ev­ery­thing is the big­gest and the best.

But when it comes to the real barom­e­ter of pres­i­den­tial truth­ful­ness — keep­ing his prom­ises — Trump is a paragon of hon­esty. Since tak­ing of­fice Trump has done ex­actly what he promised he would do.

Trump kept his prom­ise to move the U.S. Em­bassy in Is­rael from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, some­thing his three im­me­di­ate pre­de­ces­sors also promised yet failed to do. He promised to “crush and de­stroy ISIS,” and two years later he is on the verge of elim­i­nat­ing the Is­lamic State’s phys­i­cal caliphate.

He promised to im­pose a travel ban on coun­tries that he saw as pos­ing a ter­ror­ist threat, and af­ter sev­eral false starts the fi­nal ver­sion of his ban was up­held by the Supreme Court. He promised to pun­ish Syria if it used chem­i­cal weapons on its peo­ple, and, un­like his im­me­di­ate pre­de­ces­sor, he fol­lowed through — not once but twice.

Trump pledged to nom­i­nate Supreme Court jus­tices “in the mold of Jus­tice (An­tonin) Scalia,” and now Neil Gor­such and Brett Ka­vanaugh sit on the high court. Trump also pledged to fill the fed­eral ap­pel­late courts with young, con­ser­va­tive judges, and so far the Se­nate has con­firmed 29 — more than any re­cent pres­i­dent at this point.

Trump vowed to pass his­toric tax re­forms, and signed the first ma­jor over­haul of the tax code in three decades. He vowed an un­prece­dented reg­u­la­tory roll­back, with a strict pol­icy to elim­i­nate two ex­ist­ing reg­u­la­tions for ev­ery new reg­u­la­tion. In his first year, he achieved $8.1 bil­lion in life­time reg­u­la­tory sav­ings and is on track to achieve an ad­di­tional $9.8 bil­lion this year.

Dur­ing the cam­paign, he told African Amer­i­can vot­ers, “What do you have to lose? ... I will straighten it out. I’ll bring jobs back. We’ll bring spirit back.” On his watch, African Amer­i­can unem­ploy­ment reached the low­est level ever recorded, and his tax re­form in­cluded a lit­tle-no­ticed pro­vi­sion cre­at­ing “Op­por­tu­nity Zones” to try to re­vi­tal­ize strug­gling towns and in­ner-city com­mu­ni­ties.

Trump promised to can­cel Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, with­draw from the Paris cli­mate ac­cord, ap­prove the Key­stone XL and Dakota Ac­cess pipe­lines, and open the Arc­tic Na­tional Wildlife Refuge to ex­plo­ration. He ful­filled all of those pledges.

On trade, he kept his prom­ise to with­draw from the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship and im­pose tar­iffs on steel and alu­minum. He also com­mit­ted to rene­go­ti­at­ing NAFTA and the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agree­ment — and re­cently signed new deals with Mex­ico, Canada and South Korea. He com­mit­ted to im­pos­ing tar­iffs on China to force it to open its mar­kets and stop its theft of in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty — and is fol­low­ing through on that pledge. What­ever one thinks of Trump’s trade poli­cies, he is do­ing ex­actly what he said.

The pres­i­dent pledged his­toric in­creases in de­fense spend­ing, and de­liv­ered. He pledged to bring back man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs, and man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs are grow­ing at the fastest pace in more than two decades. He pledged to sign “Right to Try” leg­is­la­tion to give dy­ing Amer­i­cans ac­cess to ex­per­i­men­tal treat­ments, and did.

Where Trump has failed to keep prom­ises, such as build­ing the wall or re­peal­ing Oba­macare, it has not been for a lack of try­ing. Only in a few rare in­stances has he back­tracked on a cam­paign pledge — such as when he ad­mit­ted that he was wrong to prom­ise a com­plete with­drawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and re­versed course. I’m glad he did.

But whether one agrees or dis­agrees is not the point. When Trump says he will do some­thing, you can take it to the bank. Yes, he takes lib­er­ties with the truth. But un­like his pre­de­ces­sor, he did not pass his sig­na­ture leg­isla­tive achieve­ment on the ba­sis of a lie (“If you like your health care plan, you can keep it”) — which is clearly worse than falsely brag­ging that your tax cut is the big­gest ever.

The fact is, in his first two years, Trump has com­piled a re­mark­able record of pres­i­den­tial prom­ise-keep­ing.

He’d prob­a­bly say it’s the best in his­tory — which may or may not end up be­ing true. It’s too soon to tell.

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