Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sunday Week in Review

What else did Donald Trump do this week?

Lost jobs. Earlier this year, Trump claimed credit for somehow saving or creating jobs at a Carrier manufacturing plant in Indiana, and at manufacturing giants Boeing and Ford. In each case, the "jobs" were the result of plans those businesses had made long before Trump took office. 

All three of those employers announced layoffs or offshoring that would affect those "saved" jobs this week.

Secrecy. In recent weeks, the White House has been steadily scaling back media access to the daily workings of the Trump administration, in keeping with Trump's increasingly hostile relationship with the press. With cameras now sporadically barred from press briefings, CNN resorted to sending its courtroom sketch artist to provide some visual record of Friday's proceedings.

Cameras were also shut off during Thursday's briefing. Reporters were notified of this in a memo, but the White House declared the memo itself off-limits for reporting.

Mood management. The Washington Post reported on Friday that Trump now spends some time most mornings talking to his personal lawyers about the Russia collaboration investigations. In and of itself, this is not surprising: Russia's interference on Trump's behalf could ultimately end his presidency.

But according to the Post, Trump is not using the calls to actively assist in his own defense, but treating them as a "presidential venting session." And even this, which his own staff has encouraged him to do, rarely allows Trump to "compartmentalize" his moods in the way his aides hoped for.

Campaigns and self-dealing. One of the very first acts of Trump's presidency, done on the day he was inaugurated, was to declare himself a candidate for 2020. It quickly became apparent that Trump's habit of holding rallies was a form of psychological self-care for Trump: it allowed him to feed on the energy of a screened, friendly crowd while escaping the actual responsibilities of the job.

However, there is another benefit: when "campaign" functions are held at Trump properties, as they frequently were during his first campaign: they allow him to generate income and exposure for his businesses with donors' money. The Trump campaign announced this week that candidate Trump would hold a fundraiser at the same Washington hotel where Trump is also both landlord and tenant.

This blending of public resources with personal enrichment is par for the course for Trump. He also leases floors of Trump Tower to the Secret Service and his campaign. His insistence on taking up part-time residence at Mar-a-Lago has forced the government to pay for improvements to the property--and allowed the club to raise its fees.

Why should I care about these things?

  • Presidents who declare themselves responsible for good news should be able to accept responsibility for bad news.
  • Presidents do not get to operate in secrecy.
  • It's bad if a president's moods are occupying this much of his staff's attention.
  • A president who profits directly from political donors is susceptible to corruption by them.