On the eve of US President Donald Trump’s second State of the Union address, and in an atmosphere in which a majority of Americans oppose Mr Trump declaring a national emergency over border security, political commentators are noting the extent to which the US president has fallen short of the agenda he set last year.
Mr Trump missed some lofty goals that he laid out in last year’s State of the Union address, most notably his call for an overhaul of immigration laws and a “great wall on our southern border” but also on his pitches for a big infrastructure boost and bringing unity to Washington.
He scored victories on legislation dealing with prison and sentencing overhauls, and in givingterminally ill patients more treatment options. His promise of new trade deals is a work in progress.
Notably, in his speech from Jan. 30, 2018, Mr Trump called for the nation to “set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve.”
One year later, the US is more divided than ever, especially after a 35-day shutdown of which a majority of Americans disapprove.
But Mr Trump is not budging from his position on border security.
It comes as a leak of Mr Trump’s daily schedule prompted criticism over his routine which included late starts and days spent mostly watching TV, browsing newspapers and tweeting.
The report, which was leaked over the weekend, angered the White House, which did not deny the details of what appears to be a rather easy typical day at the office for the world’s most powerful man.
Most days, it was revealed that Mr Trump has no official work before 11:00am, according to the daily guidance given to the media by the press office. That usually begins with the president receiving his intelligence briefing.
According to detailed private schedules published by the website Axios, things don’t get much more hectic after that.
Sixty per cent of the US president’s work life is categorised as “executive time,” meaning unstructured time to make phone calls, read newspapers, tweet and watch television.
Worried about a potential Republican primary challenge, Mr Trump’s campaign launched a state-by-state effort to prevent an intraparty fight that could spill over into the general-election campaign.
The nascent initiative has been an intense focus in recent weeks and includes taking steps to change state party rules, crowd out potential rivals and quell any early signs of opposition that could embarrass the president.
It is an acknowledgment that Mr Trump, who effectively hijacked the Republican Party in 2016, hasn’t completely cemented his grip on the GOP and, in any event, is not likely to coast to the 2020 GOP nomination without some form of opposition.
While any primary challenge would almost certainly be unsuccessful, Mr Trump aides are looking to prevent a repeat of the convention discord that highlighted the electoral weaknesses of Presidents George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter in their failed re-election campaigns.
To defend against that prospect, Mr Trump’s campaign has deployed what it calls an unprecedented effort to monitor and influence local party operations. It has used endorsements, lobbying and rule changes to increase the likelihood that only loyal Mr Trump activists make it to the Republican nominating convention in August 2020.