Early this year, Axios obtained a schedule of President Trump’s activities, revealing hour after hour of “Executive Time” — which means, mostly, binge-watching cable television news and tweeting. Politico has obtained another weekly Trump schedule, and if anything, it appears to contain even less actual work.
Tuesday’s schedule featured nine hours of “Executive Time” and just over three hours of work. Other days on the schedule were only slightly busier. Trump had no meetings or commitments before 11 a.m. on any day of the week. Every day included long blocks of unstructured screen time.
The defense of this arrangement is that sometimes during Executive Time, Trump gets worked up about an issue and demands an immediate meeting on a whim, and then his aides have to scramble to explain whatever triggered him. “He might read something in the paper and immediately you’d get an impromptu meeting on trade,” a person familiar with the president’s scheduling tells Politico. “It’s just more impromptu than like a month in advance you have a policy time set that you’re going to work up to.”
So, yes, on occasions, Executive Time includes real work, or at least an ersatz version of work in which aides talk the president down from his state of rage or confusion, or stall for time until he gets distracted.
Trump has done such a comprehensively awful job of being president that it feels petty, or even contradictory, to complain that he spends so little time doing it. (It’s like the old joke: The food at this restaurant is awful; and such small portions!) So it might not be a bad thing that Trump hardly works at all. Still, it is noteworthy how little time the world’s most powerful person spends doing his job.