For all the tabloid drama of President Donald Trump’s first six months in office, the federal government remains more or less the same entity as before.
Both houses of Congress remain in Republican hands, but still haven’t worked out the stated goals of changing the health insurance system and rewriting the tax code.
The U.S. Supreme Court has returned to the same conservative-liberal divide it had when Justice Antonin Scalia died in February of last year, with big rulings still to come.
As before he took the oath, Trump faces questions about the details of his financial interests and a vaguely defined Russian role in the campaign.
Steps have been taken to reduce the federal payroll and lift various business regulations. But it’s all a long way from the small-government dream. No sweeping change has come to U.S. industry; Carrier Corp. laid off 380 employees last week.
Foreign policy, too, has yet to show seismic shifts.
Whatever he said or hinted when he campaigned, Trump has reasserted fealty to NATO, left the Iran nuclear deal intact, and made no move to lift Russia sanctions or redefine NAFTA terms.
Illegal immigration seems to have slowed, but a border wall has yet to even be designed, let alone funded and built.
New rules governing entry to the U.S. are still awaited. Roads and bridges are maintained at similar levels. Public debt goes along as it did.
Maybe substantive changes will come clearer over the next six months.
Governance aside, the political spectacle is unparalleled.
Try recalling a time when a sitting president denounced an FBI director (and fired him) and shamed his attorney general (and didn’t fire him) in the opening months.
Or complained about satires of him on television. Or won an election and claimed he was cheated in the vote count. Or charged he’d been wiretapped by his predecessor.
Constant news media leaks from within a faction-ridden White House have fed it all.
Only an eighth of Trump’s first term has gone by. Substantive change may yet catch up to stylistic change. It hasn’t yet.