Michael Tanner devotes his latest National Review Online column to assessing Donald Trump’s first six months as president.

There have clearly been successes. At the very top of the list is Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, who gives every sign of being the brilliant originalist who was advertised. Trump has been slower in nominating judges to lower courts, but those he has put up, in general, appear to be excellent choices.

On the legislative front, Trump’s biggest victory may have been a bill making it easier to fire incompetent employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and protecting whistleblowers in the agency. He has also signed some 15 bills repealing all or parts of Obama-era regulations. Few have been earthshaking, but most have been steps in the right direction. And while his withdrawal from the Paris climate accords was as much symbolism as substance (as were the accords themselves), it was an important signal that America is going to prioritize economic growth. …

… But the president has mostly struck out on bigger items. Even if Republicans eventually cobble together some sort of health-care bill, full repeal of Obamacare is, by all accounts, not going to happen. Tax reform remains nothing more than a one-page outline and is unlikely to pass this year. The budget remains stalled, entitlement reform is off the table, and deficits are rising. Congress, of course, shares the blame for these failures. But Trump’s distraction, disengagement, and vacillation helped turn bad situations into true disasters.