Substance and style — it’s easy to get them confused. That’s especially true when it comes to evaluating President Trump’s performance, a word particularly ambiguous in his case, as referring to either oratorical style or policy substance.
The new president’s detractors see a would-be autocrat threatening freedom of the press (“dishonest media”) and the independence of the judiciary (“so-called judge”). They see a barefaced liar or fantasist who maintains that his 306 electoral votes (two of which were cast for others) were more than George H.W. Bush’s 426 in 1988, Bill Clinton’s 379 in 1996 and Barack Obama’s 365 in 2008.
But the detractors’ case can be overstated — and often has been in the press, much of which seems bent on validating Trump’s news conference statement that “the press has become so dishonest.”
In substance, Trump’s administration has accomplished quite a lot in five weeks. It overturned a passel of Obama administration executive orders. The Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines are now headed for approval, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan and Waters of the United States mega-regulations are on the way out.
Federal hiring is frozen, and two regulations must be rescinded for each new one issued. The result has been some major changes in policy, as promised during the campaign, the way the process is supposed to work.
The executive order blocking travelers from seven predominantly…