Donald Trump has occupied the White House for around 120 days, and even though he claims otherwise, his list of achievements as president could fit on a cocktail napkin. After taking office it wasn't long before Trump was claiming credit for all sorts of things that he really didn't have anything to do with, mainly in the area of jobs and the economy. But now, as the Russia investigation begins to gather steam and the Trump/GOP agenda has largely hit a brick wall, Trump's fans in right-wing media are looking for anything they can claim as a Trump victory. And it's getting pretty pathetic.
Derrick Wilburn is a conservative who is the vice chair of the Colorado Republican party. When he's not busy spreading fake news and conspiracy theories on social media, he sometimes writes for the website run by one-term Tea Party congressman Allen West. Poor Derrick wanted to say something good about Trump's foreign trip, but he couldn't just offer up praise for the Orange Emperor's speech in Saudi Arabia. No, other American leaders had made similar speeches, and Derrick needed to find an accomplishment for Trump that would be unique. So he settled on something that occurred due to the schedule Trump is following on his trip -- his flight from Saudi Arabia to Israel.
Wilburn's headline announces, "Trump just accomplished something no one EVER has (and liberals can't stand it)." I can't speak for other liberals, but as far as I'm concerned, I couldn't care less that Trump flew directly from Saudi Arabia to Israel. I'm only writing about it because Derrick Wilburn and some others seem to think it was a big accomplishment.
The flight is also being hailed by some in mainstream media as sort of a big deal instead of the historical oddity that it really is. There are no diplomatic ties between the Saudis and the Israelis, and there is no routine air traffic between the two countries. But if no American president has traveled the route before, it is likely only because no other president followed an itinerary similar to Trump's, not because he is anything special. The Israelis and Saudis are our allies after all. If any president requested a direct flight from one country to the other it is not likely that the request would be denied without a good reason.
In fact, the route has been traveled before, in the opposite direction. In 1998 then vice president Al Gore flew from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, according to The Washington Post. They add that two previous presidents, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, both flew from Syria to Israel. So flying to Israel from one of its enemies (or vice versa) isn't unique to Trump.
Here's the thing that Wilburn, Breitbart (whose story formed the basis for Wilburn's,) and even mainstream outlets seem to be missing. There's no comparing the flight paths of commercial airliners and Air Force One. Other aircraft sometimes have to jump through hoops to get from point A to point B, and don't always get to travel the most direct route. But the airplane that carries the president of the United States gets expedited handling from air traffic control, meaning that when it comes to flight plan filing and routing from controllers, it gets priority over practically everything else in the sky. Traffic at the departure and destination airports is kept at a safe distance, and is typically kept out of the area entirely, even when Air Force One is on the ground.
At some point in the future it's likely that Trump's direct flight from Saudi Arabia to Israel will get mentioned in the history books -- probably as a footnote, after the list of all of the scandals and investigations of his administration. So on second thought, maybe Wilburn, Breitbart, Fox News, etc, are right: this should be looked on as one of Trump's major accomplishments, even though in the grand scheme of things it's as pathetically small as his hands.