Saturday, January 20, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He worked very hard to portray himself as working hard.

No free press were allowed near Trump today--but today the White House Communications Office put out still photographs of him "working" to resolve the shutdown crisis.

In one, Trump is wearing one of his campaign's baseball hats indoors while seated at an empty desk. In another, he is shown laughing with a number of his own staffers, though few of the people in the picture would have any responsibility for legislative or budget matters. And in a third, he is simply walking along the White House portico.

The pictures were reminiscent of other times Trump has used staged photos to "prove" his work ethic--for example, the time he claimed he was writing his inaugural speech at what turned out to be the Mar-a-Lago reception desk.

Meanwhile, Trump's counterpart in the shutdown negotiations, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), reported that the White House had not contacted him today. Democrats and Republicans in Congress did spend the day talking to one another, but--as Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made clear earlier in the week--progress is difficult when even the president's own party doesn't know what he wants.

Some of how Trump spent his time today is clear, though: he recorded a message to be played to the $100,000-a-plate fundraiser in Florida he is missing. Trump is reportedly furious that the terrible optics of leaving to raise millions of dollars in political donations during a shutdown kept him from attending the event.

Why should anyone care about this?

  • Doing the work of the presidency should be a higher priority than staging publicity photos.
  • A president who finds it this frustrating and inconvenient to have to work weekends should probably find an easier job.