Reporter's Notebook

Question of the Week
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The best reader responses to the latest question we asked in our Politics & Policy Daily newsletter (sign up here).

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Q of the Week: How Would You Assess Trump's First 100 Days?

Saul Loeb / Pool Photo / AP

Since the 1930s, a president’s first 100 days in office have been used to measure the new administration’s progress and potential success—for example, by his 100th day, former President Franklin D. Roosevelt had signed 76 bills into law and pushed for new federal jobs programs. President Trump will reach his 100-day mark on April 29. This week, we asked our Politics & Policy Daily readers to share their assessments of his early days in office.

Against the standard set by FDR and other presidents, reader Sean described Trump as a “deadbeat,” and Maria Melnick said she could sum up his first 100 days in one word: “Sad!”

Jim Young offered a more thorough examination of the president’s performance, looking at Trump’s early days from several perspectives:

Let’s be clear: The 100-day standard is simply a journalistic attempt to benchmark progress of a presidency. It is a simplistic but reasonable attempt to judge a leader's impact.  On that basis, Trump has to be a failure judged by answers to the question: “Are we as a country better off now than 3-4 months ago?”

From a security perspective, all polls show anxiety and uncertainty at a much higher level largely due to the president's decision making. From an economic perspective, the economy is doing better than public impression would have it, but that is largely due to the rhetoric of the administration that is still in campaign mode. From a political perspective, there is no cooperation at all at the federal level, and almost all institutions are in “lockdown” mode. Lastly, from a cultural perspective, Trump’s scapegoating of so many groups in the country (Muslims, liberals, reporters, Democrats) is divisive, and the very slogan “America First” contradicts many of our national values.

Tom Lucas isn’t surprised by Trump’s performance so far; he thinks it’s a pretty accurate reflection of the Republican’s campaign:

There is no consistent focus, advisers are dropping in and out of favor, and Trump claims everything good that happens (good January job numbers) is a result of his greatness, while things that fail (AHCA) are somebody else’s fault. Overall he is showing terrible leadership attributes. He also seems to have a desperate need for approval, evidenced by the fact that he is already holding campaign events where he can bask in the glow of those that see him as the solution to their problems.

Michael Porcaro, on the other hand, would give Trump an A for effort:

I feel he is doing his very best to carry out his agenda. Congress has to make adjustments to meet his demands. He won due to what he ran on. It's what the majority of working people want. He has more to do.

Ken Smith echoed that assessment: “Considering that the mainstream media is STILL against him and the Dems are doing everything in their power to deter his progress, I’d say he is doing a great uphill job.”

Luis Alvarez / AP

President Trump has reportedly played golf 16 times since taking office—outpacing former President Obama, whose first documented golf outing happened near his 100-day mark. This week, we asked our Politics & Policy Daily readers: If you were president, what would be your preferred leisure activity, and why?

Howard Cohen answered:

Swimming. Unlike many other sports that are taxing on the muscles and bones (especially as we age), swimming is a relaxing, contemplative exercise that allows one to think while immersed under water. Stroke by stroke, lap by lap, it engenders a true cleansing of one’s mind of any and all clutter.

Tam McDonald, chose swimming, too:

I would restore the White House pool, although not for the “fiddling and faddling” that JFK made famous.

Swimming is not only a top aerobic exercise but necessitates a stress-busting breathing rhythm that inspires many of its adherents to characterize it as aquatic yoga. It is good not only for the musculature and respiratory systems but for enhanced cognition: clearer thinking, higher creativity, and enhanced capacity for circumspection.

Another reader, Erin Ham, put it this way: “No one can talk to you or call you in a pool.  It would be a fantastic hour of silence with no technology every day.”

Christopher Round is an avid judo practitioner, which he describes as a “wrestling art that specializes in takedowns.” Round would continue to nurture his hobby in the White House:

I've done it most of my life and would probably ask to have mats put down at the White House. [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and I would have the same hobby—perhaps a meeting on the mat would take down his tough-guy image. (See what I did there?)

Susan Walsh / AP

After the election, Donald Trump said he would donate his annual presidential salary to charity. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced that the president chose to give away his first-quarter salary of $78,333 to the National Park Service, to be spent on the upkeep of America’s historic battlefields. Spicer said Trump was presented with a number of options before coming to his decision. So this week, we asked Politics & Policy Daily readers to suggest recipients for any future salary donations.

Dozens of readers responded that the president should donate his salary to Planned Parenthood, because of recent threats to the organization’s funding made by congressional Republicans and members of the Trump administration. Many more of you suggested that Trump donate next to the Meals-on-Wheels program, because of his plans to cut it from the budget. From Diane Miles:

Meals on Wheels is a very worthwhile service for homebound elders who can’t leave their homes to shop, don’t have enough money for nutritional meals, or find preparing meals difficult. The Meals on Wheels program nationwide is a lifeline for isolated individuals without support systems, family, and/or ability to prepare meals as they had when they were younger.

Evan Vucci / AP

Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace Obamacare flopped last week, but President Trump is ready to move to the next item on his agenda: tax reform. This week, we asked Politics & Policy Daily readers what they would like to see the Trump administration focus on now, and why. Thanks to everyone for their thoughtful responses.

Andrew Vernon suggested Trump save his political capital:

The president should focus on things that will make America more competitive and the federal bureaucracies more efficient, e.g. tax reform, infrastructure, regulatory overhaul, etc., instead of wasting what little political capital he had (and taxpayer money) on walls, misguided immigration policies, Twitter rants, attacking the media and judiciary …

Will Taylor is hoping Trump can keep things in perspective, and instigate incremental change:

President Trump should continue to work on tax reform with the understanding that the legislation will take time to develop. The president may not be able to accomplish this legislation this year. In the interim, the president should identify smaller pieces of legislation around which he can build some bipartisan support and his credibility.

But Daniel Scherrer sees appointing and cooperating with an independent investigation of the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia as a much higher priority:

Either he should clear his name, or spare the nation a drawn-out ordeal by getting out. There are real and growing concerns that the president of the United States is an agent of the Russian secret police … This issue is beyond politics. Nothing is more important than this.

Susan Walsh / AP

Monday marked the beginning of what will probably be Judge Neil Gorsuch’s toughest job interview: his Supreme Court confirmation hearings. This week, we asked Politics & Policy Daily readers what they would ask Gorsuch if they were on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Here are some of our favorite questions from readers.

Keli Osborn is curious about how the judge would rule on previous Supreme Court cases:

How would your judicial philosophy of originalism have influenced rulings on Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown v. Board of Education, Griswold v. Connecticut, Bigelow v. Virginia, and Obergefell v. Hodges?

Bill Rogers simply wants to know which Supreme Court justice Gorsuch admires most—and why.

Susan Perkins would ask specifically about the case Shelby County v. Holder: “Do you have any views on the Supreme Court decision that limited the Federal Government’s power to monitor state election laws for their discriminatory impact?”

Catherine Tanaka thinks it’s absolutely crucial to know where Gorsuch stands on climate change:

So many of the problems on Earth stem from the heating up of the world, from lack of water, to the die-offs in the ocean, from which so many people get their food, to coastal flooding, and to famine leading to wars and mass migrations. No other problem needs such a coordinated approach. If we don’t fix the climate, really, what else matters?

President Obama tosses up a basketball presented to him as a gift by UConn Huskies head basketball coach Geno Auriemma during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House. Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

This week, in honor of March Madness, we asked Politics & Policy Daily readers: If you had to pick a lawmaker to coach your team and take it to the Final Four, who would you pick—and why?

Eileen is one of several readers who thought of Arizona Senator John McCain:

His military service and his ability to survive as a POW held by the Vietcong are a tribute to his character. Equally impressive is his courage as a Republican to speak out when he sees something is wrong. He did this recently in asking President Trump to show evidence of wiretapping by former President Obama or to stop talking about it.

But after some consideration, Eileen decided she’d rather have Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders as her team’s coach:

His energy, enthusiasm, clear thinking, and ability to decipher complex issues and explain them in simple terms is more than impressive. He is a role model for all people, no matter their race, nationality, or religion. He gets my vote for the above reasons. He is my go-to guy. If there is a job to be done, he can be counted on to do it.

For reader Adela, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is the obvious choice:

Can’t you just see her on the court cheering on her players? She’d be a dynamo! And she’d defend her team like a mother tigress. No ref would dare to argue with her if she knew she was right. She would, no doubt, get ejected from many games because she’d be warned, but, nevertheless, she’d persist!

Lynne Sladky / AP

On Wednesday, a Northern Virginia school district shut down for the day after a number of staff members asked for the day off to participate in “A Day Without a Woman,” a protest to highlight the contributions of women to society. A few weeks ago, a number of restaurants and fast-food chains closed down for “A Day Without Immigrants” to spotlight immigrant contributions in the United States.

So this week, we asked Politics & Policy Daily readers to fill in the blank with a group of people that deserves to be commemorated: A Day Without ______. Our first entry comes from Leslie, who recommends holding “A Day Without Daycare” in order to show:

(1) how important daycare services are to productivity
(2) how parents’ need for daycare is critical (so that they can work)
(3) how much families rely on unpaid daycare help from relatives and friends

Similarly, Brooke proposes a “Day Without Caregivers”—of any kind:

Schools would have no after-care and closed daycares would mean many workers would stay home. By doing our own care work, we would all appreciate how much work it is, how lovely it is to be present for each other, and how hard it is to be present for each other.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

On Tuesday, President Trump outlined his plans to increase defense spending and invest in America’s infrastructure. This week, we asked Politics & Policy Daily readers where they would allocate extra funds if they were in charge of the country’s budget. Here are some of our favorite responses.

The vast majority of respondents, including Stella Porto here, would invest more in education:

If I controlled the federal budget, I would strengthen basic public education. Provide more access to pre-school education. Make college more affordable. Expand community colleges. Develop re-training programs for those who jobs have been eliminated by automation or other economic trends.

Everything in the country depends on the level of education of its people—absolutely everything, from preventing illness, choosing a better lifestyle, to raising kids responsibly, to choosing elected officials, to fighting for important causes, etc. Citizenship depends on education. Access to good education is at the root of equality.

Chuck Barnes, a retired university faculty member and geologist, suggested funding a year or two of universal service for high school graduates:

Charles Dharapak / AP

On Monday, February 20, we’ll celebrate Presidents’ Day. So this week, we asked our Politics & Policy Daily readers: What U.S. president do you admire most—and why? We received dozens of thoughtful responses, but here are a few of our favorites.

For Dolores Oliver, the answer is George H. W. Bush. She admires his ability to “work beyond ideological barriers”:

First, Bush was willing to resist pressure to aggressively brag about the fall of the Soviet Union. This approach reminded me of Lincoln’s commitment to welcoming back the South after the Civil War. He worked hard to respond with humility and support to bring the former Soviet satellite countries into the international community and eventually Russia too. Had the West come out with a prideful, bellicose attitude, perhaps we would be far worse off in our relationship with Russia than we are currently.

Saul Loeb / Pool Photo via AP

On Monday, President Trump issued a proclamation declaring January 20—the day of his inauguration—“National Day of Patriotic Devotion.” In 2009, Barack Obama declared his own inauguration to be a “Day of Renewal and Reconciliation.”

So we asked our Politics & Policy Daily readers what they would call their Inauguration Day if they were elected president. We got dozens of thoughtful—and hilarious—responses. Here are some of our favorites:

“A Day of Grateful Living,” suggested by Seth Langston

“Day of Reflection, Compassion, and Service,” suggested by Sue R.

“A Day of Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and, Finally, Acceptance,” suggested by Tucker Perry

“National Day of Pinot Noir, French Bread, and Salami,” suggested by Dan

“Just Another Wonderful Day of Opportunity,” suggested by Michael O’Meara. He adds:

Responsibly using the powers granted to each person by the U.S. Constitution, we can take pride in our efforts to make incremental improvements each and every day; thus, making every day just another day of wonderful day.

P.S. The declaration would be followed by a recording of the song, “What a Wonderful World,” sung by Louis Armstrong.

“Day to Start Walking Our Talk,” suggested by Rozella Stewart

“National Dance in the Streets With Men in Kilts Day,” suggested by Victoria Medaglia. She adds:

And I would do so well before the fact so the boys could all kilt themselves out. I speak from experience when I say there’s nothing sexier than the swing of a kilt in full waltz or reel.

“National Honor-the-Facts Day,” suggested by Steve Ross

Andrew Burton / Reuters

President Obama told The New York Times that reading books like The Three-Body Problem and The Underground Railroad helped him “slow down and get perspective” during his eight years in the White House.

This week, we asked our Politics & Policy Daily readers to share which books inform their daily lives and help keep things in perspective. Here are some of our favorite responses.

Tom Lucas suggested The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah:

The story of how French citizens faced so much difficulty during the Nazi occupation is relevant today when we talk about ISIS and how they took over cities in the Middle East.  I’m sure many of those citizens didn’t want to take in the soldiers but were forced to do it in order to protect their families.  We are so far removed from this kind of suffering that it can be difficult to imagine, and understanding it more makes me appreciate how small our problems in America are by comparison.

Thomas Gierach suggested both fiction and nonfiction: Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy, and Stamped From the Beginning, by Ibram X. Kendi.

Gail Driscoll enjoys Barack Obama: The Story by David Maraniss, Jon Meacham’s American Lion, and J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegywhich she says “exposes the complexity of the problems facing much of the Rust Belt.”

Dennis Van Tine / STAR MAX / AP

This week, we asked our Politics & Policy Daily readers to share their plans for 2017. Dozens of readers sent in their goals for the new year, and many resolved to become more politically engaged. Here are a handful of our favorite responses:

From Tom Lucas, 42, manager of a reinsurance brokerage firm:

My resolution in 2017 is to take less information at face value and to delve deeper into topics before I form an opinion. I think this will give me a broader perspective on issues and allow me to understand both sides of a debate.

Joanne Allard, 58, from Tucson:

I’ve recently decided to try and make eye contact with and pass along a cheerful well-wish to people I ordinarily ignore. I’m talking “hellos,” “good afternoons,” “lovely weathers,” etc., with an emphasis on projecting genuine interest. I just got to thinking one day that I tend to avoid contact with people who look as though they’d staunchly disagree with my politics, and it occurred to me that maybe I could help make next year a better one by trying to connect in a positive way.

From Maura Lynch Rubley, 37, high school teacher of government and law:

I have two resolutions for 2017. The first is to find more ways participate in preserving the great American experiment of democracy. The second is to spend more time with my students talking about the importance of reading a variety of reliable news sources, and avoiding both fake news and echo chambers.

Patty Ware, 55, retired from a career in social services:

Normally, I don't make resolutions for the New Year. This year, I will work hard to stick with two: