The Washington Post gives us a closer look at how Donald Trump fills some of his “executive time,” the hours of the day reserved for Donald to do very important things like watch television and call allies about whatever he sees on that television. It turns out much of it is indeed filled with watching television and calling allies about what he has seen on television.
Specifically, the piece describes his habit of calling trusted Republican senators “at all hours of the day without warning and sometimes with no real agenda.” There is no doubt that both the quoted senators and the scorched remnants of the White House press office seek to spin this as Trump being accessible and proactive. The alternative interpretation is that Trump is shamelessly impulsive, devoted primarily to reacting to whatever he’s last seen on television.
Trump regularly calls senators if he sees news about their states. Other times, he talks about what he just saw on television or asks about golf. Barrasso said their calls, usually about 10 minutes or so, span several topics and sometimes are prompted by a Barrasso appearance on cable television or a Sunday political talk show.The president’s penchant for trying to contact senators after watching them on television has forced his aides to scramble at times …
Again, though, consider the positives of this approach. Trump is infamous for his impatience with security briefings and written reports of any kind; it may be that Donald genuinely is learning most of the “news” about our various states from brief segments on Fox & Friends. Have our intelligence community and other briefing agencies thought about, rather than sending briefers and bullet points to the White House, crafting a faux-Fox News set that they could use to “televise” their briefings? Give Donald a dedicated channel all to himself, and fill it with the things he actually needs to know rather than whatever the Fox News guests of the day want to put in his head?
It really ought to be considered. For now, though, note again the enormous power being channeled here through a single small set of cable television executives. The daily presidential mood and agenda can be orchestrated in large part by arranging for this or that guest to appear on his morning programs; even sitting senators can best prod Trump to action if they can arrange for their faces to be on TV. Ninety seconds of face time on Fox & Friends can change the course of history, at least until some other 90-second segment changes it back.
There’s another tidbit in the Post‘s writeup worth calling out. Trump’s most-called senators often return the favors, calling him on their own initiative “just to offer positive reinforcement and praise.” And, according to the Post, it’s been made a straightforward process by Donald’s, ahem, remarkable accessibility.
“The vast majority, he just picks up,” said another GOP senator, who regularly calls Trump and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. “If he doesn’t … he’ll return them within an hour.”
Now that’s accessible: You can dial up the sitting president, and “the vast majority” of the time he’s not doing anything important and can immediately take your call and have a chat.
The U.S. presidency used to be considered one of the most demanding and stressful white-collar jobs in the world. Apparently, however, the previous 44 occupants were just putting too much effort in.