The new chief of staff’s task is herculean. Many efforts to curb President Donald Trump’s juvenile behavior failed. Trump, 71, insists he’ll keep tweeting random thoughts to 110 million followers.
WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s golf buddies say he rationalizes spending almost every weekend at one of his private golf clubs or resorts (at a cost of millions to taxpayers) because “that White House is a real dump.”
Granted, the storied house that boasts 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms and 28 fireplaces does not feature the fake French ornate gilt and gold-plated faucets Trump adores. But, really, a dump?
The White House at first refused to comment on the Golf Magazine and Sports Illustrated report, which was based on conversations with members of Trump’s Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey. You’d think a White House known for mendacity about secret meetings with Russians, economics and why Trump fired the FBI director would put out a few white lies about this. “What? Our beloved president belittled the people’s house? No way.” Nope. Silence. Until the story ran on TV. Finally, a sort of denial.
Maybe it was a joke. Often, when Trump says something outrageous, the White House laughs. Like when Trump told police to rough up suspects taken into custody. Police officials, desperately fighting an image of police brutality, quickly repudiated that.
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As someone who covered the White House for more than 20 years and felt awe every time I walked through the gates, I’ve been stunned at Trump’s daily disrespect of the presidency. But that’s what Trump does — denigrate our institutions, such as respect for facts, free speech and the judiciary.
Washington is excited that an adult, a four-star retired general, has arrived to bring normality and decent behavior to the White House.
The new chief of staff, John Kelly, fired the appalling Anthony Scaramucci as communications director on day one.
On day two, he streamlined meetings and shut the Oval Office door to staffers used to wandering in to try to influence the president.
On day three, he reached out to Democrats to try to work out bipartisan legislation and made Trump sign a sanctions bill against Russia and North Korea he disliked but that was overwhelmingly passed by Congress.
Kelly’s task is herculean. Many efforts to curb Trump’s juvenile behavior failed. Trump, 71, insists he’ll keep tweeting random thoughts to 110 million followers.
The world is increasingly dangerous. Trump has no idea what to do about Russia, North Korea or China, alternating between tough talk and malleability. He decimated decades of experience and expertise at the State Department.
He is making life miserable for millions worried about health insurance, for immigrants and minorities. He prizes loyalty above all but discards staff like used tissues. He is throwing out regulations that protect the environment and consumers from unsafe products. He is opening up national parks and monuments to oil, gas and real estate development.
But trash talking the White House? Certainly, even Trumpeteers will balk?
Nope. Four out of 10 love him.
A guide for non-Trumpsters who find themselves in states such as West Virginia, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Alabama — where Trump has a huge, inexplicable majority popularity — would urge restraint.
Cover that fading Obama-Biden bumper sticker with one ordered from the Kentucky Creation Museum. (If you physically go, it’ll cost $60 per adult and $34 per child to visit the museum and its “life-size” Noah’s Ark). Do not talk about climate change to people who think dinosaurs existed 6,000 years ago.
Affix a gun rack (empty) to your vehicle.
You don’t have to sing Trump’s praises, just distract. In North Dakota, inquire why South Dakota got Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, the Corn Palace and Wall Drug. In West Virginia, ask to see all the new coal mines. In Wyoming, shake your head, muttering, “Repeal and replace. It should be easy!”
Don’t ask what Trump actually has accomplished to improve lives.
As for Kelly, do we even remember what normality means? We hope it means an end to White House chaos. Perhaps no more threats to sic the FBI on political opponents. The president may speak to Boy Scouts without their issuing apologies for wildly inappropriate remarks. Perhaps an end to promises to sabotage the health insurance system so it implodes. Maybe the president will avoid insulting foreign leaders and embarrassing the nation.
Yes, Trump thrills four of 10 Americans. But six of 10 wish he’d stop being irreverent, impulsive and obnoxious and consider he’s the only president not to reach 50 percent approval rate once in his first six months.
By the way, Trump has played golf every 5.8 days.