Friday, October 6, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He delighted in the attention his cryptic "calm before the storm" comments caused.

Last night, Trump unexpectedly summoned reporters back to the White House to pose with military leaders and their spouses after a dinner. Glancing at the uniformed officers, Trump said to reporters, "You guys know what this represents? Maybe it's the calm before the storm." He ignored reporters' requests to elaborate on what the "storm" was, saying only, "We have the world's great military people in this room."

Today, Trump appeared to delight in the attention his suspenseful comments had attracted. Asked again by reporters to explain, Trump--whose only unqualified success in the business world came as a reality TV star--smiled, winked, and said, "You'll find out."

In the White House daily briefing, reporters were forced to ask press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders whether Trump was merely joking. "I think you can take the President protecting the American people always extremely serious," Sanders replied, clearly ill at ease with the volume of questions on the subject. Other questions followed. Was he feigning madness? Was this his idea of negotiation with whatever unnamed adversary he had in mind? Had he forgotten that adversaries would hear his comments too? Was he simply enjoying the chaos his comments caused among a press corps he's come to hate? 

Over and over again, Sanders gave a response long practiced by Trump's defenders: don't put too much stock in anything he says.

Why would a normal person have a problem with this?

  • The presidency is not a reality show.
  • Military matters are nothing to joke about--or tip your hand about.
  • If you have to ask whether a president is rattling his saber just for the sake of the attention it gets him, something is terribly wrong.
  • A president who seems to enjoy the idea of military confrontation is unfit to be commander-in-chief.