According to The Associated Press, our 45th president had a rough day this week. Just the one? Well, no, but according to reporter Jonathan Lemire, “By any measure, Thursday was a chaotic day in President Donald Trump’s White House.”
Chaotic in what sense? Well, for one thing, there was a meeting planned between Trump and a pair of lawmakers that the press was belatedly informed had been pushed to another date. I’m not sure that this indicates “chaos” for Trump, though ― since it seems like the press, not Trump himself, was the last to know about it.
Ah, but then there was that whole bit where White House press secretary Sean Spicer told Air Force One-bound reporters that the administration’s vaunted border wall would be paid for, in part, by a tax on Mexican imports. It was a “surprise announcement” that “lit up phones across Washington,” and, as you may know, the exciting twist ending to this story was that Spicer later walked it back.
Now, this was a bit of an embarrassment for the administration ― one of many false starts and walk-arounds we’ve seen in its first week. This has stemmed from the White House’s emphasis on executive branch theatrics, which have, on multiple occasions, flummoxed the reporters covering the activity. Still, reducing the incident to the “surprise” of the announcement and Washington’s switchboards melting down makes it sound like this “chaos,” once again, was primarily felt by reporters ― not people actually inside the White House.
Anyway, from there, it seems that Trump was running late and an executive order signing would have to be postponed.
In terms of Trump’s “rocky start,” I’ll be honest with you: Thursday seems like it was a pretty tame day. Especially when you compare it to the story that Lemire and Julie Pace filed two days earlier, in which it was reported that Trump’s well-nursed grievances and the constant nagging of his personal insecurities were driving those around him to distraction. This shows no sign of changing any time soon. It’s no wonder that Trump’s White House has been as leaky as a butterfly net, with newspapers collecting dozens of sources to tell horror stories about everybody’s first week on the job.
So, I don’t know, it’s not clear that the events of Thursday truly stand out against the background chaos of the week as a whole. But then, making comparisons doesn’t seem to be the AP’s strength in this instance. Here’s how the article about Thursday closes out its tale of “confusion and change”:
But the Trump administration is far from the first to experience some early growing pains.
It took more than a day for staffers in President George W. Bush’s press office to be able to get all their phones and computers to work in 2001.
And the very first moments of Obama’s term in 2009 were muddled when Chief Justice John Roberts bungled the oath of office, forcing a do-over the next day at the White House. Staffers had to rely on reporters to guide them to the Diplomatic Room for the ceremony.
Wow, those sound like some deeply tricky adjustments! Definitely the equivalent of what’s going on in Washington right now. But that’s presidential transitions for you: Sometimes you need an afternoon to figure out how the call forwarding works, sometimes you contract enteric fever shortly after your inauguration and suddenly it’s John Tyler’s presidential transition. Your mileage will vary!
Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost Politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.