Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He demanded to be thanked for doing his job.

In his first hours back in the United States, Trump took to Twitter to ask: "Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!"

The reference is to three students who were arrested for shoplifting last week in Hangzhou during a series of NCAA basketball games played in China. Because of diplomatic efforts before Trump became aware of the situation, they were being detained in a sort of house arrest at a luxury hotel and had been expected to serve sentences of one or two weeks, rather than the ten years Trump claimed. Trump apparently did mention them to President Xi Jinping during their meeting, though it's not clear if he was aware of ongoing efforts by his own State Department, UCLA, and NBA player Lonzo Ball (the brother of one of the arrested students). 
The incident gave Trump another chance to praise the "terrific" Xi, but that was not the most uncomfortable aspect of his subsequent hint that he needed to be thanked. (The students in question had already done so, but repeated their statement of thanks after Trump's tweet.)

Why does this matter?

  • Presidents don't get to demand praise for doing their job.