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Trump's Top 10 Successes of 2018

January 2, 2019 - 7:00am

In his second year in office, the list of extraordinary things President Trump has done, for good and ill, continued to grow. Today, I offer my annual list of the 10 best things Trump has done in office. (In my next column, I will give you my list of the 10 worst.)

10. He has secured the release of 19 people, including 16 Americans, from foreign captivity. When Pastor Andrew Brunson was freed by Turkey, he became the 19th captive released thanks to Trump. Others include: four held by North Korea; an aid worker and her husband held by Egypt; three UCLA basketball players and a Texas businesswoman held by China; a couple and their three children held by the Taliban; a former CIA officer held by Portugal; and two citizens held by Venezuela. That's more Americans freed in two years than President Barack Obama got released in eight. And unlike Obama, Trump did it without releasing terrorist leaders or sending planeloads of cash to rogue regimes, creating incentive for more hostage taking.

9. He delivered for the "forgotten Americans." The Trump boom is benefiting those left behind by the Obama economy. Manufacturing jobs grew at the fastest rate in 23 years and the unemployment rate for Americans without a high school diploma reached the lowest point ever recorded. The Wall Street Journal reports that wages rose 3.1 percent -- the biggest jump since 2009 -- and that "low-skilled workers are among the biggest beneficiaries."

8. He worked with Democrats and Republicans to pass important legislation. It didn't get a lot of attention, but Trump got a lot done on a bipartisan basis, including criminal justice reform, opioid and sex trafficking legislation, and a new "Right to Try" law giving dying Americans access to experimental medications.

7. He has ushered in a golden age for women in the CIA. Trump not only appointed Gina Haspel as the agency's first female director but also made Elizabeth Kimber the first women to lead the agency's clandestine service -- rewarding the CIA's "band of sisters" who have toiled to keep the country safe since 9/11.

6. His push to expand domestic energy production bore fruit. This year the United States passed both Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world's top oil producer.

5. In the six months after the Singapore summit with North Korea, he has made no concessions to Pyongyang. North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un expected to blow up some useless nuclear facilities in exchange for billions in hard currency. Trump has refused to play Kim's game. Not only has Trump not lifted sanctions, unfrozen North Korean assets, ended the Korean War or offered Pyongyang diplomatic recognition, but also he imposed new sanctions on members of Kim's inner circle.

4. He struck Syria again and eliminated the last vestiges of the Islamic State's physical caliphate. For a second time, he enforced Obama's red line against the use of chemical weapons. In December, U.S.-backed fighters captured Hajin, the last pocket of territory held by the Islamic State. The militant group is far from defeated, but Trump is right that we have knocked "the hell out of ISIS."

3. He's continued his tough line with Moscow. Trump announced America's withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, shipped Javelin antitank missiles to Ukraine, canceled a meeting with Putin at the Group of 20 summit over Russia's seizure of Ukrainian navy ships, expelled dozens of Russian diplomats and imposed more sanctions against Moscow.

2. He pulled out of Obama's disastrous Iran deal and reimposed crippling sanctions on Tehran. The new sanctions have taken millions of barrels of Iranian oil off the market and led to the cancellation of major deals with European investors. And when Iranian protesters rose up to challenge the regime, Trump (unlike his predecessor) stood with them.

1. He stood by Brett Kavanaugh and even in the worst moments never wavered. Trump has confirmed a record 85 judges in his first two years as president. That total includes two Supreme Court justices, 30 appellate court judges and 53 district judges who will preside for decades. Trump's successful fight for Kavanaugh also helped him expand his Senate majority, as energized Republican voters threw out four Democratic incumbents who opposed Kavanaugh.

There were many more accomplishments not included in this list. Trump got Mexico, Canada and South Korea to sign new trade deals. He continued his regulatory rollback, replacing Obama's "Clean Power Plan" and his "Waters of the United States" rule and returning power to the states. He took on the International Criminal Court, which purports to have jurisdiction over U.S. soldiers and citizens. And his graceful handling of George H.W. Bush's funeral brought dignity to the office.

That is a strong record of success. We'll review the 10 worst things Trump has done in the next column.

Follow Marc A. Thiessen on Twitter, @marcthiessen.

(c) 2019, The Washington Post Writers Group

Comments

10. is good, but at what cost? We may never know... 9. Jobs did spike, and wages did temporarily increase. What you failed to mention is that the markets realized the two single biggest drops in history (Christmas and standalone). U.S. farmers have realized the biggest loses and more farms have been lost than ever before. 8. I agree this was all good legislation. Two if the three long desired by Dems of all people. 7. He did help women some in the CIA, but at the same time labeled his own intelligence agencies as: sloppy, mistaken, in error, largely Democratic and unprofessional, not reliable, not credible, unproven. All his words, not mine, and potentially the most dangerous interference in law enforcement in history. 6. Oil is good, but gas and solar are better... 5. We have struck no significant change with N. Korea at all, and have significantly damaged our credibility in Asia by suspending joint safety and security exercises with S. Korea, yet got absolutely nothing in return. Has also called the most brutal dictator in the world, my guy, a great friend, a good guy, and trustworthy. His words not mine. 4. He warned Russia he was striking Syria before doing so, so they already knew it was coming and where. The Russians, Syrians and Turks did far more to ISIS than Trump has ever done. He blindsided and abandoned all of the US top military minds by abandoning the strategy in the Middle East and pulling out of Syria (most believe with Russia's blessing) and prompting the resignation of all former Generals in his cabinet. he then backpedaled on these statements and lied and said he never said that. Mattis resigned and Trump tried to tarnish this great war hero by stating he essentially fired him, which all with any credible intelligence know just to be another Trumpian lie (of the thousands). 3. Most of this was considered very minor in the grand scheme of things (especially considering Finland and Syria). Trump also discredited his own intelligence community, again, over Putin. It is generally accepted that Trump did not meet with Putin, not because of Ukraine, but because his own cabinet was soon to be sentenced for what is largely considered collusion with Russia by every sane analyst. 2. Iran is in fact, shipping more oil now than before the sanctions, thanks to Russia, N. Korea and China. The sanctions not only had no impact, but we now stand alone with respect to Iran globally. Iran also applauded the US pull out of Syria. It benefits them directly. 1. Brett Kavanaugh was actually facing 17 ethics and misconduct complaints as a sitting judge that can no longer be heard due to SCOTUS privilege. Bravo.

This flack is a bigger pure propaganda blowhard that was 'Baghdad Bob'! Yuck!

One can easily sum up Trump's Presidency in simply TWO WORDS: "HIS Presidency"! [signed a lifelong registered Democrat VOTER,.. fed up with today's Democrat Political Party bereft of "Statesmen" as well as the "best interests of America and the American PEOPLE" ! ]

If you were a lifelong registered voter of the Democratic party, how is it that you misname it? When you call it "Democrat" instead, you reveal ignorance or bias. "HIS Presidency," with the all-capped "HIS" sounds like hero worship.

The Democratic Party just is racist enough for you anymore and had to jump ship. I get it. I remember when the KKK and white supremist used to all be democratic as well. 1% get nice tax cut. Working people get lower gas prices. According to trump that is just as good as a tax cut.

The beat goes on! Did you scrutinize obummer this ruthlessly??? The press was so busy kissing obummers behind to ever find fault with his many treasonous actions! I’ll pass on your evaluations Marc!

Yea for his domestic energy production! Even MORE money for our Dinosaur based oil corporations, when Solar could soar to the top of the energy food chain. But wait! We can't have that. Solar would put big oil out of business. Tell Saudi Arabia to jump in a lake. Limit the number of gas guzzling Hummers and Back stabbing GM Suburbans we can drive. Your head is to full of euphoria, buddy. He hasn't done anything I'd be proud of yet. That release of foreign prisoners came with this country backing down, and becoming friends with terrorist states. Something, we've NEVER done before. As much as I abhor war, he pulled us completely out of Syria and Afghanistan, cold turkey. Leaving those areas ripe for Isis, Al quida, and a hundred more terrorist groups to expand their influence. You call this an accomplishment? I agree with Dean Franklin. I sure hate to see what you think are his bad points. Get you brainwashed head out of the sand!

It'll be interesting to see just what you consider bad, since your list of good includes, albeit ignored, a betrayal. Syria. ISIL isn't done and gone. Yeah, damaged, diminished, even shattered. With thousands of enemy combatants in the custody of the Kurds. Ouch! Betrayal! By announcing the withdrawal he's put the Kurds in an undefensible position. They'll be forced to release those in custody and to fight for their very lives. Turkey, and it's strong man leader want to destroy the Kurds. The only reason he hasn't already done so is our presence. If and when we pull out he'll attack them. Our Allies should take a close look at what happens. To see just how loyal President Trump is, and make future considerations accordingly. The Kurds are why ISIL has been decimated. We owe them our thanks and loyalty for the thousands of Kurds who died in the war. And our transactional President intends to ignore that and give them over to the tender mercies of the Turks. It's disgusting, disgraceful and dangerous. And we'll pay a huge price for the betrayal.

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