Fake news? What about Trump’s fake promises?

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After one month in office, President Donald Trump is still experiencing a steep learning curve, as he discovers that the business of governing is far more complicated than campaigning.

There are strong indications that the president has not yet made the transition away from campaigning into acting presidential. On Feb. 18, he delivered his standard campaign stump speech to a crowd of 9,000 adoring fans in Florida. And the president continues to tweet “policy” pronouncements along with vitriolic attacks at all hours of the day — just like he did during the campaign. 

{mosads}Campaign mode enables a candidate to tear down and attack everything and everyone. Once in office, though, a president must proactively produce thoughtful results — not just blame others by whining that “I inherited a mess.” 


As Mario Cuomo once said “You campaign in poetry; you govern in prose.” But for Donald Trump, who is not known as a details guy, the details of governing that are part and parcel of the presidency has been somewhat of a shock to him. Of course, the Trump administration has been a shock to many Americans. 

For all of President Trump’s dangerous and unsubstantiated attacks on the “dishonest media” for promoting “fake news,” it’s ironic that he has produced one fake deadline after another for his promise to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

His repeal schedule appears to be more bluster than strategy and seems to shift almost daily. Of course, one reason it has shifted so often is because — despite Trump’s branding of the Affordable Care Act as a “total disaster” — he and the Republican Party can’t agree on the details of a replacement plan that will still protect Americans’ healthcare coverage.

Let’s examine Donald Trump’s shifting ObamaCare repeal and replace schedule. 

As a candidate, Trump’s website stated that “on day one of the Trump Administration, we will ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare.” Fake schedule — perhaps excusable as mere campaign poetry.

Just before the election, Trump proclaimed in Philadelphia on Nov. 1 that “When we win on Nov. 8 and elect a Republican Congress, we will be able to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare. We have to do it.” He continued by declaring that “I will ask Congress to convene a special session so we can repeal and replace” ObamaCare. Fake schedule — and Congress would already be in session. 

On Jan. 10, before his inauguration, the president-elect pontificated that there would be a repeal vote “probably sometime next week” and that a replacement of ObamaCare would occur “very quickly or simultaneously, very shortly thereafter.” Fake schedule and a misleading statement. 

The next day, the president-elect held a press conference in which he changed the schedule yet again.

This time he tied the introduction of the repeal and replace legislation to the Senate’s approval of Tom Price as his secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. “We’re going to be submitting,” Trump said, “as soon as he [Price] is approved, we’ll almost simultaneously — shortly thereafter — have a plan. It will be repeal and replace. It will be simultaneously.”

Price was confirmed on Feb. 10. Another fake schedule with no sign of actual legislation on the horizon. 

In an interview on Jan. 14, the president-elect again said he was waiting for Price’s confirmation, but that the legislation for repeal and replace was essentially done. “It’s very much formulated down to the final strokes. We haven’t put it in quite yet but we’re going to be doing it soon,” Trump said. Fake.

In a Feb. 5 interview on Fox News with Bill O’Reilly, the president backed off from his earlier optimistic schedule and statements that the legislation to repeal and replace ObamaCare was essentially written. He stated that “It statutorily takes a while to get. We’re going to be putting it in fairly soon. I think that yes, I would like to say by the end of the year — at least the rudiments — but we should have something within the year and the following year.”

Just weeks earlier, he’d indicated the legislation was already “formulated down to the final strokes.” But now the schedule had apparently slipped by up to a year. Another fake schedule. 

Finally, on Feb. 18, the president noted at a campaign-style rally in Florida that “We are going to be submitting in a couple of weeks a great healthcare plan that’s going to take the place of the disaster known as ObamaCare.” In less than two weeks, the schedule had shifted from being a year out to being ready in a couple of weeks. 

It remains to be seen whether he meets his latest deadline or if it just one more fake schedule based on the president’s wishful thinking rather than on a deliberate plan and strategy. It also remains to be seen whether the replacement legislation to ObamaCare honors his commitment in his November victory speech in which he declared that “I will be president for all Americans.” 

The common thread in all of Donald Trump’s schedule announcements about the repeal and replacement of ObamaCare is the use of simple words: immediately, quickly, soon, in a couple of weeks. These and other simple words are a hallmark of his rhetoric.

All new presidents have a steep learning curve. But, to be effective, President Trump must recognize that he is an apprentice — more so than any previous man who has ever assumed the office of the presidency — and he must apply himself to understanding the subtleties of complicated issues. He must pivot from being a bombastic campaigner to doing the challenging, intellectual work of governing based on facts and not gut impulses.

Perhaps hardest of all for this president, who generally speaks only using very simple words, he must realize that words make a difference in articulating and explaining policies, and that governing is far more nuanced than reciting poetry.


Mike Purdy is a presidential historian and the founder of He is a frequent and popular speaker and is often quoted by the media about presidential history and politics, including CNN, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Reuters, Bloomberg, BBC, and others.

The views of contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

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