Speed Reads

first 100 days

Presidential historians brutally assess Trump's first 100 days

How do President Trump's first 100 days stack up against the presidents of yore? Not so great, as it turns out. Presidential historians who spoke with NPR ruled Trump "an entry-level president" and practically unfit to even be a White House intern.

"This man is without experience, and it's showing," said historian Robert Dallek, who has studied leaders ranging from Roosevelt to Reagan. "Particularly in his dealings with Congress, he's been an utter failure in the sense that he's gotten nothing passed. He's issuing all sorts of executive orders, like immigration limits; they're failing. The attempt to get health-care reform failed. I'd give him failing marks for his 100 days."

Richard Norton Smith has written several presidential biographies, including one on Herbert Hoover, who, like Trump, was a businessman before taking office. But "the problem with people who say we need a businessman is that the government isn't a business," Smith said, adding: "Profit-loss statements don't take into account the irrationality of Kim Jong Un. Corporate budgets don't have to allow for military defense. All these kinds of perfectly rational expectations that apply in a corporate world are rarely applicable in the less-than-rational world of politics."

The director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia, Barbara Perry, said it is even too generous to call Trump an "entry-level president." "Unless he would be an intern, he would not have a position in the White House — with no educational experience, no military experience, no government, no political experience, most of it was running for president."

She described his learning curve in office as "Mount Everest." "It's as steep as they come and ice-covered, and he didn't bring very many knowledgeable Sherpas with him," Perry told NPR.