Wednesday was a busy day for the administration. With the deadline for Donald Trump’s first 100 days barreling towards him on Saturday, the president continued to be the kid in class who didn’t do the work and tried to throw together a project at the last minute so it looks like he did something. And if that seems like an exaggeration, I shit you not, that is exactly how Trump decided to govern our country this past week. Which we now know thanks to Politico‘s damning, must-read report on Trump’s first 100 days where staffers are literally quoted as saying, “This shit is hard.” Comforting.
The fact that 100 days, as a marker, has no legal or actual significance outside the media has not seemed to matter to Trump. While he has publicly derided the deadline as “ridiculous” on Twitter, he has decidedly reshuffled his schedule, priorities and agenda in the last two weeks to notch political points, knowing the deadline would get inordinate media coverage.
He has repeatedly pressed aides to have a health care vote before Saturday. He surprised his own staff by promising a tax reform plan by this week and urged them to round out his list of accomplishments. He has maintained an aggressive calendar, wooing conservative outlets and traditional reporters alike.
He told aides this week needed to be a busy one — just as he told them after his inauguration.
So how did Trump do yesterday? Like the asshole who turns in a triple-spaced paper in 24-point font, and then goes home and completely folds on withdrawing from NAFTA.
First, he sent Steve Mnuchin out with a hilariously short one-page tax plan that, at best, blatantly cuts Donald Trump’s personal taxes and fucks the middle class at unprecedented levels by removing all deductions except for “mortgage and charitable giving.” Do you remember the fiasco with repealing Obamacare? Because Trump sure didn’t. There’s no way in fucking hell anyone in the Senate is going home and telling their constituents that they got rid of their itemized deductions.
Later that day, Trump held his “historic,” all-hands-on-deck intelligence briefing on North Korea in the White House where the president spoke for a grand total of 14 minutes about basically nothing. Was the meeting classified? Was it non-classified? Even Republicans left mad as hell that they were dragged all the way to the White House for a blatant photo-op. The good news is that despite Trump’s posturing to the contrary, he’s going to stick to Obama’s plan of strategic patience with North Korea because, surprise, the black guy Republicans hate so much wasn’t a fucking idiot. The bad news is that our current president is one and literally makes policy decisions based on TV ratings.
But they’re learning. One key development: White House aides have figured out that it’s best not to present Trump with too many competing options when it comes to matters of policy or strategy. Instead, the way to win Trump over, they say, is to present him a single preferred course of action and then walk him through what the outcome could be – and especially how it will play in the press.
“You don’t walk in with a traditional presentation, like a binder or a PowerPoint. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t consume information that way,” said one senior administration official. “You go in and tell him the pros and cons, and what the media coverage is going to be like.”
Turns out White House staffers have a really hard time making sure Trump doesn’t watch TV or talk to his friends all day because apparently our president is a goddamn teenager.
Advisers have tried to curtail Trump’s idle hours, hoping to prevent him from watching cable news or calling old friends and then tweeting about it. That only works during the workday, though—Trump’s evenings and weekends have remained largely his own.
“It’s not like the White House doesn’t have a plan to fill his time productively but at the end of the day he’s in charge of his schedule,” said one person close to the White House. “He does not like being managed.”
Trump absolutely doesn’t like to be managed, and that’s the terrifying part. Because for a guy who’s obsessed with media coverage and ratings, Trump couldn’t be more oblivious – *cough* Article 25 *cough* – that almost none of that goes well for him. Case in point, Politico‘s entire report on his first 100 days, which has now informed the public that Matt Drudge visits the White House regularly to coordinate with Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon is still a prominent figure in the administration with his own “war room,” and all of the embarrassing details above about how Trump is running the country like a reality show whenever he’s not glued to the tube.
But how did all of this information come about? Captain Ego doesn’t like to being told what to do. From Politico‘s first two paragraphs:
The 70-year-old leader of the free world sat behind his desk in the Oval Office last Friday afternoon, doing what he’s done for years: selling himself. His 100th day in office was approaching, and Trump was eager to reshape the hardening narrative of a White House veering off course.
So he took it upon himself to explain that his presidency was actually on track, inviting a pair of POLITICO reporters into the Oval Office for an impromptu meeting. He sat at the Resolute desk, with his daughter Ivanka across from him. One aide said the chat was off-the-record, but Trump insisted, over objections from nervous-looking staffers, that he be quoted.