by Michael Walsh, New York Post
AS the end of Donald Trump's first 100 days in office approaches, now's a good a time to cut through the fog of misinformation, disinformation, media propaganda, ideological bias and outright hostility that has greeted his arrival in Washington and take a clear-eyed look at how he's really doing.
Answer: much better than you think.
Let's take the area that was supposed to be his Achilles' heel, foreign policy. After flirting publicly with the likes of John Bolton, Rudy Giuliani and David Petraeus, Mr Trump settled on dark horse Rex Tillerson, the former chief of ExxonMobil, to be his secretary of state.
Like his boss, Mr Tillerson had no prior experience in government - which has turned out so far to be an excellent thing.
Unencumbered by the can't-do conventional wisdom of the Foggy Bottom establishment and its parrots in the Washington press corps, Mr Tillerson has played the carrot to Mr Trump's stick, soothing Chinese feathers ruffled during the campaign with a March visit to Beijing and setting up the successful meeting earlier this month between The Donald and the Chinese president at Mar-a-Largo that coincided with the cruise-missile salvo fired at Syria's Bashar al-Assad.
Since then, the Chinese have openly cautioned the troublesome regime of Kim Jong-un in North Korea not to antagonise the US with further nuclear sabre-rattling in the region; "Trump is a man who honours his promises," warned the People's Daily, the ruling party's official newspaper.
Among those promises: a better trade deal for China and an ominous presidential tweet to the North Koreans that they're "looking for trouble," and signed "USA." Even now, US warships are steaming Kim's way.
Regarding Russia, Mr Tillerson rocked the former Soviets with a "frank discussion" in Moscow on Wednesday - diplo-speak for "contentious."
Meanwhile, at the UN, ambassador Nikki Haley has already proven her mettle, taking a hard line toward the Russians for their tactical alliance with Assad while making clear the US commitment to Israel.
Domestically, a first attempt at repealing and replacing ObamaCare flopped when Speaker Paul Ryan's needlessly complex "better way" couldn't muster enough GOP votes to make it to the House floor. But the fault was the ambitious Ryan's. Now the way's clear for a cleaner repeal. And, yes, tax reform's on its way, too.
True, the president's two executive orders regarding visitors from several Muslim countries have been stayed by federal judges refusing to acknowledge the plain letter of both the Constitution and the US Code 1182, which give the president plenary power regarding immigration.
But the recent confirmation of Neil Gorsuch as an associate justice will quickly clear up that misunderstanding when the cases land in the Supreme Court.
Further, the Republicans' use of the "nuclear option" to eliminate the filibuster for high court nominees means Mr Trump's next pick is guaranteed a speedy confirmation.
Over at the National Security Council, H.R. McMaster has brought order out of the chaos that followed the abortive tenure of Mike Flynn, shuffling some staffers but retaining the services of crucial personnel.
And at the Pentagon and Homeland Security, former Marine generals James Mattis and John Kelly can be counted on to faithfully execute presidential policy. Worries that they're too soft on radical Islam are unfounded.
Less remarked but equally important has been the administration's speedy action on downsizing the federal government, proposing real spending cuts and reorganising the bloated bureaucracy, which has drawn bleats of protest from the DC swamp creatures watching their sinecures circling the drain.
Mr Trump's also lifted the hiring freeze, in order to flesh out a still-undermanned executive staff and replace Obama holdovers.
Despite these clear successes, the media continues to depict the White House as a floundering, latter-day court of the Borgias, a backstabber behind every arras.
But that's to be expected of a novice administration in its infancy. When the smoke clears, look for an uneasy balance of power between chief counsellor Steve Bannon and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner. Mr Trump can ill-afford to lose Mr Bannon and his diehard conservative base.
And the sooner the floundering White House press operation is rebooted, the better; the administration has played defence against a hostile, sneering media long enough.
No new president will ever match the whirlwind of new programs introduced by FDR when he took office during the Depression - the gold standard cited by Democrats who equate activity with action. But Mr Trump got elected for precisely the opposite reason: Less government is more freedom.
As long as he keeps that in mind, he - and we - will do just fine.
Michael Walsh is an author, screenwriter and contributing editor at PJ Media. His most recent book is "The Devil's Pleasure Palace"
This article originally appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission