Donald Trump is a performer at heart. He’s also an alleged billionaire, a real estate mogul, a reality star, a husband, and a father. Yet what he loves to do is get up on stage and do his thing, making outrageous statements and entertaining his audience. So, it’s easy to see how he might have thought being president is like playing a role, and now — according to a behind-the-scenes report from Politico — reality has come crashing down around him, and none of it is much fun. Sad? Or inevitable.
The remarkable aspect of this report, if true, is how Trump has grown disenchanted with his job in only three weeks. If one had to pick one quote from the whole story that summarizes the vibe, it would be “He doesn’t like this sh*t.” This assertion came from one source close to Trump, who was furious at how his appointment of a major fundraiser to a White House job wasn’t going as planned, and he’s also really upset at how his cabinet choices weren’t immediately passed through the Senate with flying colors. Further, he’s used to being the boss, and so he doesn’t see why his moves have been met with resistance. He won the election, after all.
There’s so much to this report, including how Trump’s incensed that unflattering details from his conversations with foreign leaders have surfaced, and he’s demanded an investigation into his staffers’ electronic communications to figure out who is leaking. So, we’re hearing leaks about the leaks, and it would be almost comical if Trump didn’t have an actual, all-encompassing job to do. Mostly, Trump seems awfully unhappy at the overwhelming scope of his duties, and he’s avoiding details of conversations that he doesn’t understand:
Trump often asks simple questions about policies, proposals and personnel. And, when discussions get bogged down in details, the president has been known to quickly change the subject — to “seem in control at all times,” one senior government official said — or direct questions about details to his chief strategist Steve Bannon, his son-in-law Jared Kushner or House Speaker Paul Ryan. Trump has privately expressed disbelief over the ability of judges, bureaucrats or lawmakers to delay — or even stop — him from filling positions and implementing policies.
There’s also plenty of talk of infighting, which Trump doesn’t want to tolerate because it makes him look bad, but he can’t stop the flow. He’s very concerned about appearances, and Sean Spicer has landed on his list of top staffers who Trump reportedly criticizes for his demeanor or phrasing. Much of the rest of the staff sounds miserable:
Most of those interviewed for this story requested anonymity to describe the inner workings of a White House where they say the tension has been intensified by the president’s propensity for knee-jerk micromanaging when faced with disappointment, and jockeying among aides to avoid blame or claim credit when possible. The interviews paint a picture of a powder-keg of a workplace where job duties are unclear, morale among some is low, factionalism is rampant and exhaustion is running high. Two visitors to the White House last week said they were struck by how tired the staff looks.
Meanwhile, Reince Preibus and Steve Bannon are — surprise — blaming each other for everything that goes wrong. That “buddy comedy” story about their so-called beautiful friendship looks even more ridiculous after reading this report. Oh, and Trump would like to start firing people already, but he recognizes that this wouldn’t be a good look.