Lacking any significant legislative accomplishments, and governing almost exclusively by executive order, Trump places the blame for his lackluster performance not on himself or his staff—or even his opposition in Congress.
If the president is having a hard time because of the peculiarities of our system of government, that means the system is doing exactly what it is supposed to do.
Specifically, Trump criticizes the filibuster, claiming that it forces the government to make bad decisions. Trump’s views on the filibuster are not surprising, having never shown an ounce of principle on anything, he seems to have no problem with archaic rules and institutions when they benefit him.
Earlier this week, the Army Corps of Engineers decided to block the final easement needed for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe. Tribal groups and environmentalists celebrated the federal government’s decision to reject the permit, claiming that the pipeline threatens tribal land and the environment. Unfortunately, the easement was blocked for reasons that are motivated by political pressure. The Army Corps’s decision has little to do with scientific evaluations or concern for economic benefits, providing further evidence of the extreme politicization in the federal regulatory process.
In its 2015 environmental assessment, the Army Corps specifically addressed the concerns surrounding the portion of the pipeline that would cross under Lake Oahe. The Army Corps rejected these concerns, noting Dakota Access’s effort to include safety features that would “minimize the risk of spills and reduce or remediate any potential damages.” The environmental assessment concluded that there was such a minimal effect on the environment that there was not even a need to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.
One will note that the Army Corps’s sudden reversal on this is based on no new evidence at all.