Friday, May 19, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He set off on his first trip abroad as President.

Trump will presumably sleep on Air Force One during the trip to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia tonight, which will be the first time he has slept away from a Trump-branded property other than the White House. A notorious homebody--late in the preparation for this trip, he angrily suggested it should have been half as long--Trump has escaped the White House in favor of Trump-branded properties as often as possible during his presidency. During the campaign, he routinely flew back to New York at the end of days spent elsewhere in the country just so that he could sleep in his own bed.

Making sure that Trump survives his first trip abroad--in countries with no Trump hotels--has become a major preoccupation both for his hosts and for his own staff. The national dish of Saudi Arabia is lamb and rice, but Trump will be given a special meal--his trademark well-done steak with ketchup. (No word on whether ice cream will be served.) His staff has built extra downtime into the schedule, and resorted to putting Trump's name prominently in each paragraph of the trip briefing in an effort to get him to read it.

More ominously, the other heads of state at the NATO summit next Thursday have been warned to tailor their approach to a president who is expected to be tired, frustrated, and with an even shorter attention span than usual. “It’s like they’re preparing to deal with a child," according to a source for a Foreign Policy piece on NATO's efforts to "Trump-proof" the meeting. Part of the Trump-pacification strategy involves praising his electoral college win, favorably comparing him to President Obama, and using pictures instead of text wherever possible.

So what?

  • A president whose own allies openly speak about treating him like a fussy child during visits is not one who is up to the task of representing the United States of America.
  • A president whose own staff treats him like a wayward schoolchild is one who is being manipulated by them.