All of the political analysis in the world about the current state of the Republican Party or the mindset of the Trump administration, or even the goals, policies, or principles guiding American governance at this moment in history can never be simplified better than with a glance at the schedule of the President.
In fact, even that statement at the outset of this article probably makes you think I’m talking about golf or self-congratulatory political rallies or hastily-arranged meetings with Vladimir Putin. But I’m not even talking about anything so specific.
In the end, I believe that Donald Trump’s entire presidency will be gauged by what he calls “Executive Time.”
You’ve all heard of it before: Trump actually pencils in time for tweeting and watching television and just generally not having to be President for a little bit, and at the beginning of 2017, that was exactly what it was. We were, of course, outraged that there was a name for it, but we couldn’t actually complain because our favorite presidents had done the same — they just didn’t call it that, and of course Twitter didn’t seem to factor in much to the only other Presidents who have served while it has existed. [Side note — holy crap, we’ve had Twitter for three presidencies]
But like his daily lie count as measured by the Washington Post Fact Checker and like his constant rallies he seems to hold every other night, his executive time in this period leading up to the midterms has increased in both frequency and amplitude — the more executive time he takes, the more we know exactly what he’s doing with it.
This report from Politico took a look at Trump’s schedule during the week of October 22nd, 2018 — a week that began with prominent Jewish philanthropist and subject of countless anti-Semitic right-wing conspiracies George Soros receiving a bomb in the mail, and culminated in the right-wing terrorist attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh that left 11 dead.
Tuesday, the day that bombs arrived at the feet of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and former CIA Director John Brennan, Trump had nine hours of executive time scheduled for the day. He actually set aside nine hours to do whatever he wanted that day. And what he wanted to do was tweet 8 times, including one still blaming Puerto Rico for his botched response to Hurricane Maria, videos of himself accusing Democrats of hating America, a tweet demonstrating his crippling misunderstanding of how tariffs work, and a video trying to ironically “agree” with then-Senator Barack Obama about allowing undocumented immigrants into America — while omitting that the people he’s trying to keep out are legal asylum seekers.
It’s during executive time that you see the themes that dominate the news about Donald Trump emerging. His tweets are informed by what he’s reading or watching during executive time. They will show up mere moments before scheduled meetings, almost always unrelated to whatever he’s supposed to be meeting with people about. They will repeat nice things that were just said about him on Fox News.
Under Trump, the phrase “executive decision” has come to actually mean something awful.
If Democrats regain control of one or both houses of Congress, you can rest easy knowing that while Trump’s executive time will almost certainly increase, perhaps the impact of it will go down at least a little.
Featured image via screen capture.