Donald Trump has been president of the United States for 16 months now, which still seems weird to say, mainly because of his persona, which continues to dominate many sectors of the American landscape. That dominant persona, for better or for worse, also makes it more difficult to objectively assess his presidency. Nevertheless, we’re going to try.
First, though, we need a standard. "Better than Hillary" simply won't cut it. Surely we can aim higher than being better than perhaps the most disliked corruptocrat ever nominated for the American presidency by a major party. So how about this: Has Trump already accomplished more as president than either John McCain or Mitt Romney, his two preceding GOP standard-bearers, would have, had they been elected?
When I posed this question to my Twitter followers, who aren’t always the most pro-Trump crowd on the Right, the answer was overwhelmingly yes.
Trump has accomplished more in a year and a half as president than either Romney or McCain would've in a full term had they been elected.— Steve Deace (@Steve Deace) 1526523096.0
Rather than analyze why that’s the case myself, I'm just going to let a sample of my Twitter followers who voted “yes” in my poll speak for themselves.
@SteveDeaceShow Your poll assumes Romney & McCain actually wanted to accomplish anything— Robert Dunaway (@Robert Dunaway) 1526576765.0
@SteveDeaceShow I didn’t vote for Trump because I didn’t trust him to govern as a conservative and also his thin sk… https://t.co/QAl2jgMEcg— Jason (@Jason) 1526524150.0
@SteveDeaceShow POTUS has accomplished more in 18 months than Sen McCain has in his career.— Russ Ripley (@Russ Ripley) 1526573442.0
@SteveDeaceShow Romney and McCain would have been very illiberal #Progressive Presidents so they would have had bot… https://t.co/PUa2Vit96D— American Creed (@American Creed) 1526560491.0
@SteveDeaceShow That depends whether you count the war(s) McCain would have started as accomplishments.— @KevinGutzman (@@KevinGutzman) 1526763008.0
@SteveDeaceShow Best case scenario for McCain is he wouldn’t make things worse— Carl Anderson (@Carl Anderson) 1526763036.0
@SteveDeaceShow He's accomplished a lot more good things than I think Romney or McCain would have for sure. If eith… https://t.co/kAO2LLyDC6— Blake Johnson (@Blake Johnson) 1526528971.0
These responses are why someone with Trump's nonexistent conservative resume as a candidate was able to capture the presidency and why accusations of scandal and collusion have not put a dent in his presidency now that he's in office.
On the one hand, the GOP base had given up hope that nice-guy Republicans were going to keep their campaign promises, let alone side with conservatives over Democrats once in office. At the same time, as long as Trump continues delivering for conservatives on the issues they care most about, it's going to take more than 12-year-old flings with porn stars and leaks from the Mueller probe to persuade Trump's base to desert him. For these folks, it's not because of some personal affinity for Trump as much as recognition that he's doing much of what they've been asking of Republicans for decades — the kinds of things they don't believe Republicans like McCain or Romney would have done.