Sunday, August 27, 2017


Image by 731/Bloomberg.

"In a simple ceremony at Camp David, attended only by a few close friends, President Donald Trump asked the Gulf of Mexico to marry him, and the well-known North American body of water, dressed in a gauzy wrap dotted with clouds and a very large hurricane in its northwest, agreed, pending completion of the pre-nuptial agreement by their attorneys..."

No, not that kind of engagement. But there's something that did strike my funnybone about Landler's story:

President Trump wrapped up a sparkling late-summer weekend at Camp David on Sunday. But his Twitter feed and the photos and statements released by the White House indicated that he did little other than monitor the catastrophic storm in Texas.
"Little other than" sounds like the impression I got as well, that he was basically watching TV for 48 hours, with two sets, one tuned to Fox News and the other to The Weather Channel, or maybe CNN, but Landler makes the case that this kind of engagement is a good thing, or at least a thing calculated to make Trump look good:

throughout the weekend, Mr. Trump posted regular updates on the status of the storm and praise for the government’s response. He held two teleconferences with members of his cabinet, announced that he would travel to Texas on Tuesday, and signed a federal disaster proclamation for the state.
It was a calculated display of energetic presidential leadership — one hardly unique to the Trump administration. But it also revealed a president who was genuinely engaged by the drama unfolding in Texas, certainly more so than he has been by other pressing issues facing his administration, like tax reform or a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
His helpful regular updates include
  • six announcements that he is "closely monitoring" (the third one is really a retweet of Scott Pruitt's thoughts and prayers, and in one case Trump is "closely watching") Hurricane Harvey and one from just before the landfall that he "will remain fully engaged"; 
  • three admiring the way city, state, and federal governments are working together, which is respectively great, wonderful, and great, plus a thank you to volunteers and shoutouts to administrator Brock Long of FEMA and to the "fantastic people on the ground", also known as "great talent on the ground"; 
  • one announcement that he's signed a Disaster Proclamation which "unleashes the full force of government help!",  three suggesting he would be attending meetings, and one responding to encouragement from Senator Grassley; 
  • and statements advising that the storm is "bigger and more powerful than projected", "record setting", the worst storm "many people are saying" they have ever seen, a "once in 500 year flood", one the like of which "even experts" have never seen, and "unprecedented".
I don't want to be mean, but it's hard to see in what sense these are "updating" us about anything. We're also told that
  • he's pardoned one civil rights–hating murderous sheriff, Joe Arpaio late of Maricopa County AZ, and admires a new "book" by another one, David Clarke of Milwaukee County WI;
  • he's going to visit Missouri too on Tuesday, to campaign for a Senate candidate who hasn't yet been nominated for the 2018 elections, so he won't be wasting a whole day on displaying compassion;
  • Mexico will pay for the wall sooner or later, though he doesn't deniy we taxpayers will have to pay for it first;
  • NAFTA is bad and the negotiating partners are too "difficult" and he might have to dump the agreement after all. 
Suggesting that he really is watching The Weather Channel or CNN four or five times as hard as he's watching Fox.

I though Haberman was pretty funny, though:

Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names.

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