Friday, August 25, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

A great deal--between about 7 and 9 p.m. on a Friday in August during a major natural disaster.

In the space of a few hours, the Trump White House made three announcements that, under normal circumstances, would each have dominated a day's news cycle. They were the pardon of Joe Arpaio for federal criminal contempt, the resignation or forcing out of the politically embarrassing aide Sebastian Gorka, and the implementation of Trump's spur-of-the-moment ban on military service by transgendered people.

It's not uncommon for politicians to wait until the end of the weekly news cycle to release sensitive news, but tonight is not merely a lull in the collective attention span. Nearly 8,000,000 Americans on the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana are in the path of the first major hurricane landfall in ten years, a Category 4 storm that is likely to cause massive or even catastrophic damage. 

The transgender service ban is very unpopular, and has earned Trump rare public pushback from active-duty military leaders. Trump is walking a very fine line with the white nationalists who are his strongest supporters, and has especially good reason to want to sweep the Arpaio and Gorka stories under the biggest possible rug, as the two are admired chiefly by white nationalists and Islamophobes.

Who cares?

  • Presidents who are doing their jobs well don't generally need to resort to this kind of distraction from what they're doing.
  • It's hard to know whether this is being done more out of cynicism or cowardice.