For a businessman who has to deal with numbers, math does not appear to be Donald Trump's biggest strength. At least, not when Trump claimed 13 weeks of success, in spite of having been in the office for only 11 weeks. In an exchange on Air Force One on Thursday, Trump informed reporters, "I think we’ve had one of the most successful 13 weeks in the history of the presidency." He pointed to the amount of military equipment accrued under his administration, job creation, and his negotiations with the Air Force general of Lockheed Martin's F-35 jet program as reasons for a supposedly triumphant run.
Let's do some counting here. Trump's presidential inauguration occurred on Jan. 20. April 7 will end his 11th week in the White House. So, 13 weeks would have been believable if calendars didn't exist and people didn't know how to count. Apart from the math being wrong, Trump's boastful claim has another problem: It's not entirely true that the administration has experienced success in these weeks unless "success" here means the halting of an executive order, the collapse of a health care bill, mounting disapproval from citizens, and a few other not-so-victorious things.
It feels significant to briefly go over what's happened ever since Trump took office for no other reason than to highlight the inconsistency between his rather big claim and simple reality.
BREAKING: Pres Trump on AF1:— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) April 6, 2017
"I think we’ve had one of the most successful 13 weeks in the history of the presidency."
For instance, a president's successful run in the office includes the relationship he or she maintains with the media. This is where Trump has so far suffered a rocky dynamic with different outlets. For example, Trump has a contentious relationship with the New York Times, which he accused of being "fake news." I wouldn't call that a healthy relationship with the nation's fourth estate.
Then there's the unforgettable and stunning failure of the American Health Care Act, which Trump passionately promised his followers during the presidential campaign. The effort to replace and repeal Obamacare, which remained one of Trump's most aggressive plans, toppled due to consistent infighting among Republicans. The constant disagreement between Trump and the Freedom Caucus points to a larger problem, too: rapidly growing ideological differences between moderate and conservative Republicans.
Name one moment that wasn't a total calamity. Also, it hasn't been 13 weeks. https://t.co/tRVL5P8ofL— Joe Berkowitz (@JoeBerkowitz) April 6, 2017
There's also the fact that one of Trump's most controversial executive orders involving a travel ban on six Muslim majority countries received a firm block from a federal judge in Hawaii. In light of these developments, it wouldn't be wrong to say that Trump — in addition to mistaking 11 for 13 — continues to face some major and undeniable setbacks while attempting to govern America.
Slips happen all the time. You might miscalculate a figure when you're in a hurry. You might have said something when you meant something else. So, Trump may have mistaken the number of weeks he's been president. But considering the upheavals within his administration, discontent from the public, and growing differences between his own party members, it is clear that while it has not been 13 weeks technically, it certainly feels like it.