On May 4, 2017, Professor Mark J. Rozell, Dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government and Ruth D. and John T. Hazel Chair in Public Policy at George Mason University gave a talk about Donald Trump’s First Hundred Days in office. Around 30 people joined the event.
In his talk, Prof. Rozell analyzed the America First agenda, President Trump has announced in his inaugural speech in January this year. He pointed out that key issues of the agenda, like “draining the swamp” or improving immigration and domestic security have not been solved in the first hundred days. Trump’s greatest victory so far, Prof. Rozell explained, was the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch, which will have a long-lasting effect on the political direction of the US.
Prof. Rozell then engaged with the audience and discussed several questions about the Trump presidency. Among others the audience was interested in President Trump’s supposed nepotism and unusual trust in Jared Kushner, for which he has received lots of criticism. Prof. Rozell explained that, while curious, Kushner is family and thus a person President Trump can trust more than anyone else.
Further questions addressed the power of the presidency and the political imagination thereof in American society. Prof. Rozell pointed out that President Trump’s initial misunderstanding of the presidency is symptomatic for an overall American misconception. Quoting Charles O. Jones’s first lines of his book “The Presidency in a Separated System,” Prof. Rozell said “The President is not the presidency. The presidency is not the government. Ours is not a presidential system,” implying that the presidential office is limited in its powers and far less powerful than many Americans believe. President Trump learned the reality of these limitations early in office.
Eventually, Prof. Rozell was asked about the difference between President Obama’s and President Trump’s first hundred days in office. Prof. Rozell made clear that President Obama entered the presidency under extraordinary circumstances. Such a crisis situation constitutes a rare period of time where consensus in the Congress gives the president the power to act. This is one of the reasons President Obama was so successful in the first hundred days.