This story itself is not news, it’s just worse news. We’ve known from the start that Tweedledumber isn’t much of a reader, and to accommodate Trump, his daily briefing was reduced to a bunch of pages in a loose leaf binder, with lots of pretty pictures, graphs, and bullet points, no more than a page long. But now it appears that even this is too much strain on a President with the attention span of a flea.
The Washington Post is reporting that Trump has dispensed with a paper copy of the PDB altogether, instead getting a condensed version in a purely verbal briefing. But considering the fact that His Lowness” attention is going to wander, since the briefing has nothing to do with him personally, or emoluments, they bring along a series of placards with pretty pictures and graphs on them, like a teacher using flash cards for a kid in third grade math class.
The Trump White House is pushing back against not the story itself, but its implications. They say that Trump is simply continuing the longstanding practice of Presidents receiving their daily briefing in different ways. This is true, some Presidents prefer to have the daily briefing in text format only, while others prefer an interactive oral briefing with the folder as backup for reference. But what the White House is ignoring is that all of the Presidents got the PDB folder for use if necessary.
But, even with this Romper Room style of getting the President important global intelligence information, there is trouble in paradise;
Another person familiar with the briefing process said that, at times, Trump has been dismissive of his briefers. He has shaken his head, frowned and complained that the briefers were “talking down to him,” this person said.
I love that part. Here’s a guy with the IQ of the fender from a ’67 Ford, getting a daily briefing from people with more letters after their names than Trump has in his name, and he thinks that they’re dumbing it down for him. The White House stresses that Trump asks “hard,” pertinent questions. I’m guessing the questions are something like, “Wazzat?” and “You’re shitting me! Really?”
This is dangerous for two reasons. For one thing, this means that his subordinates who receive the same briefing in a normal format are better informed that he is. Nothing shocking here, since the teletubbies are better informed than Trump is, but in a crisis, precious time could be lost while his advisers try to bring him up to speed.
The second problem has to do with pattern recognition. Trump has long complained that he hates being told the same thing over and over again every day. There’s a reason for this. When you sit at your desk and look out the window, every day you see the 8:42 bus go by. It gets to be so automatic that you don’t even see it anymore. But the one day it breaks down, at 8:47 you’re saying, “Hey! what happened to the 8:42?” Hearing the same information every day on North Korea or Syria tends to highlight it when the information suddenly changes, spotlighting the change, and giving you a frame of reference for the difference.
So, there it is. Rumors have been rampant that Rex Tillerson is not long for the State Department world. When he steps down, Trump may as well nominate Steve Doocey for Secretary of State, at least he trusts Doocey’s information more than the stuff he gets from Tillerson. Or his national security briefers apparently. What a way to run a railroad.