As we saw earlier, this morning, on Trump's last day, a federal appeals court vacated the Trump regime rules that eased restrictions on greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants, potentially making it easier for Biden to reset the nation’s signature rules addressing climate change. Yesterday, Jonathan Chait noted in his New York Magazine column that as hard as Trump tried to erase Obama's legacy-- one of the things that motivated him to run in the first place-- he failed. "Trump," wrote Chait, "did try to roll back Obama’s greenhouse-gas regulations. This is part of the now-ordinary push-and-pull of regulations that occurs whenever party control of the White House changes hands. On the whole, though, Obama’s push has gone a lot farther than Trump’s pull. That is not only because Trump’s deregulation was carried out so ham-handedly that courts have overturned his policies at a historic rate. It is also because businesses don’t make long-term investment decisions based on ephemeral regulatory conditions. Firms aren’t going to build a new plant to make gas-guzzlers or energy-hogging appliances if they believe those things will be outlawed in a few years. Trump of course promised to revive the coal industry and center the American economy on its natural resources. Instead, coal has continued to collapse, and the green-energy transition begun under Obama has churned on. The last budget deal very quietly extended many of Obama’s biggest climate change policies. It increased funding for ARPA-E, the advanced energy research department Obama created in the stimulus. It ratified a ban on hydrofluorocarbons, which Obama negotiated internationally in 2016. And it extended the tax credits for solar and wind energy that were included in the stimulus, and which jumpstarted those industries, which barely existed in 2009, into giants that now employ ten times as many Americans as the fossil-fuel industry. Trump, to great fanfare, announced he was pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, the first comprehensive international agreement to set greenhouse-gas reduction benchmarks. But the framework of the agreement did not collapse, and Biden will reenter it immediately.
And Biden is building on Obama’s agenda in almost exactly the same way he would if Obama were beginning a third term. He is reviving the economy (which is in much better shape than the 2009 version) with a huge stimulus. He is proposing to build on Obamacare by bulking up its subsidy levels, adding incentives to cover the people denied access to Medicaid, and attempting to add a public option (which Obama ran on but couldn’t get through Congress.) His climate plan uses the same combination of regulations, green-energy subsidies, and international diplomacy. Biden now has the chance to spend money deploying the green-energy technologies that he and Obama had to prod the market to invent in 2009.
...Trump was consumed with envy for his predecessor and obsessed with undoing his work. His failure was nearly total. Even as Trump’s ephemeral imprint on public life-- primarily corporate tax cuts that will be rolled back next time a liberal majority has to pay for a social program-- evaporates, leaving behind little but a residue of seedy crimes, Obama’s will remain.
Meanwhile, of course, Trump is leaving as one of the most destructive and hated men to have ever occupied the White House-- a tragic national error. His approval ratings are down-- and dropping rapidly by the way-- according to every single poll released. I have not the slightest doubt that historians will decide he can't be judged among other presidents because he was too terrible in every single way a president is evaluated over time. He's certainly the worst ever-- worse than Nixon, worse than Bush, worse than Hoover, Harding and Coolidge, worse than the Civil War precursors Buchanan, Tyler and Fillmore and worse than Andrew Johnson (who only got impeached once).
At The Bulwark this morning, Jonathan Last agreeded that history will crush Trump. History books will remember Trump only for the way "he oversaw a disastrous response to a global pandemic, because of which more than 400,000 Americans died on his watch. That’s it. That’s his legacy. And if he gets a second line in the history books it will be for inciting an insurrection on the U.S. Capitol which led to a second impeachment... Make no mistake: Donald Trump’s legacy is already etched in history. And his legacy is death and destruction. That is all he will be remembered for. Everyone trying to feed you happy talk today about his 'accomplishments'-- The great Trump economy! So many judges!-- is simply trying to alibi themselves or their clique."
In his essay at The Nation about Trump's 4 worst betrayals of the country, David Corn closed by noting that "The United States does not matter to Trump. He has not cared about the dead of COVID-19. He has not cared about the protection and preservation of the nation’s democratic institutions. He only cares about Trump. This was the grand takeaway of the Russia scandal. After all, a man who would side with an overseas enemy and facilitate its attack on his own homeland could not be expected to give a damn about the national interest. Russia was a bright red warning sign. Yet the Republican Party, millions of voters, and many in the media refused to heed it. Had they done so, the United States might have been spared much suffering. Tens of thousands of Americans-- maybe more-- might now be alive. Certainly, the nation would not have recently witnessed a presidentially incited mob ransack its citadel of democracy. Putin wanted Trump in the White House, for he believed that Trump would weaken the United States and the Western alliance. He was correct. As Trump vacates 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the wreckage is evident. The country is more divided, its economy battered, with thousands of Americans perishing each day in an intensifying pandemic. Killer brownshirts are on the loose. Bigotry, hate, and violence have been unleashed. Democratic norms and norms of decency have been trampled, with tens of millions cheering this on. And it all began with Russia. Trump was a Russian weapon-- made in the USA-- aimed at America. This was no secret weapon; the danger Trump posed was always clear and present. The great tragedy is that this attack succeeded-- probably far beyond the imagination of anyone within the Kremlin-- because America allowed it to."