Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He showed French President Emmanuel Macron his vision of America: one with no opposition or media.

Trump invited no members of the press to his administration's first state dinner, and no congressional Democrats. (The governor of Louisiana, a Democrat, is the only member of the party invited at all.) Normally, state visits--and in particular the festive state dinners--are among the most open and nonpartisan events that a White House can hold. 

It's not clear whether Trump was motivated by a desire for secrecy or simply to snub his political enemies, but congressional Republicans were among those criticizing Trump for the decision.

Macron himself attended the last state dinner held in honor of a French delegation, as deputy chief of staff to then-President Fran├žois Hollande. At that dinner, the Obama administration invited many Republicans and members of the media, including:

  • Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, then House Majority Leader
  • Kentucky Rep. Harold Rogers
  • California Rep. Ed Royce
  • Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan
  • Tennessee Gov. William Haslam
  • Jill Abramson of the New York Times
  • Steve Clemons of The Atlantic
  • Julianna Goldman of Bloomberg News
  • Laura G Haim, of Canal Plus and I-Tele French TV
  • Steve Holland of Reuters
  • Corine Lesnes of Le Monde
  • Jeff Zucker of CNN
The United States has hosted hundreds of state visits since the tradition was established in 1876. This may be the first state dinner ever to exclude opposition lawmakers and the free press.

Why does this matter?

  • In a democracy, the free press has access to major events of state.
  • Normally, presidents at least pretend that politics stops at the water's edge.