Y ou probably never dreamed a Miss Universe could hijack a week of election coverage. It makes you long for the days when campaigns were about, you know, issues. And presidents do deliver on their campaign promises; President Obama is on track to complete 70 percent of his to-do list, according to Politifact.
If you read between the tweets, Donald Trump has made a lot of promises, too. So let's take him at his word and judge his candidacy the way we'd normally do.
FIRST 100 DAYS Here are some of the promises experts believe Trump could deliver on by himself, right out of the chute. He could renege on the international Paris Agreement on climate change. He could abandon the Iran deal that curbed their nuclear weapons program. He could kill NAFTA and pull the United States out of the World Trade Organization. He could fire an opening salvo in a trade war against China. He could loosen the few restrictions that regulate gun purchases. He could start the roundup of 11.3 million undocumented immigrants. He could ban Muslims (or entire Muslim nations) from coming to the U.S. He could even order our troops to commit war crimes like torture or targeting the families of terrorists.
With the help of Congress, Trump could repeal the Affordable Care Act, cut taxes (mostly for the wealthy) and start building that wall.
Many of these actions are unconstitutional, but legal challenges take time. Much of the Obama presidency could be erased by Memorial Day.
FOREIGN POLICY Who does Trump rely on for advice on foreign affairs? "I'm speaking with myself, number one," is how he answered the question on Morning Joe, "because I have a very good brain, and I've said a lot of things."
Yes, he's winging it, but he's making promises along the way. On nuclear proliferation, he'd like more countries to get nukes; he has specifically mentioned South Korea and Japan. This is the opposite of bipartisan American policy dating to the end of World War II.
And he has a soft spot for Vladimir Putin and Russia, which is in a desperate, dangerous position because its economy is tanking. Trump views Putin — a dictator with a nuclear arsenal and an agenda — as a future ally. Trump also denies that Russia was behind the recent election-related hacks of American websites; didn't seem to know that Russia had invaded the Crimea; and has called into question whether we'd honor our NATO commitments in defending Russia's neighbors like Lithuania. It's hard not to wonder whether he owes a lot of money to Russians.
IMMIGRATION Experts with the conservative American Action Forum have put numbers to Trump's promise of deporting 11.3 million undocumented immigrants in two years: We'd be arresting and deporting 470,000 people a month, requiring 90,000 agents — six times the number we employ today. We'd need three times the internment space we had during the Japanese internment, costing $600 billion. About 7 million of those targeted work in our economy; nearly all of them pay taxes and participate as consumers. The economic hit is estimated at $1 trillion in lost gross domestic product within a couple decades.
THE ECONOMY Despite the reputation he cultivates for shaking up the status quo, Trump's economic plans are the same old trickle-down economics as George W. Bush's, whose eight-year tenure proved that tax cuts for the rich don't create jobs. Of course, Trump made his tax cuts way huger than Bush's, clocking in at $5 trillion over a decade. Meanwhile, Trump has committed to protect Medicare from cuts and to expand military spending by $450 billion. Experts say there's no way it all adds up.
His other economic plank is to throw up trade barriers. Moody's has estimated that if Trump creates the tariffs he has outlined, 4 million trade-related jobs will be lost, with another 3 million expected jobs never to be created. That's 7 million American lost jobs.
Finally, Trump has suggested he'd write down or renegotiate our debts to investors like China. This may work when you're screwing a drywall contractor in Atlantic City, but on the international stage it's a one-way ticket to Armageddon. Foreign investment would flee the U.S., the dollar would be crippled and another country — ironically, probably China — would become the world's economic leader.
As the New York Times reported, Trump somehow managed to lose nearly a billion dollars... all by himself... in a single year. Now Trump wants to apply his reckless, me-first business acumen to our planet. If you tune out the noise, you can hear it: He's promising to drive our economy off a cliff and set the world on fire.
Judging Donald Trump by his temperament is important, for sure. But it's easier than that: His stated plans for America disqualify him as a candidate to lead us. ♦