the national interest

Trump Said President Obama Watched Television All Day

President Obama watching something, probably basketball, on television instead of working. Photo: Pete Souza/The White House

Deep in a Josh Dawsey report about President Trump’s love of spending hours showing off the White House to random visitors is a report of Trump accusing his predecessor of not doing his job. “‘He just sat in here and watched basketball all day,” Trump told one his his many delegations of visitors, “before saying he upgraded Obama’s smaller TV to a sprawling, flat-screen one, the four people said.”

Ironically, this anecdote comes in the midst of an account of Trump devoting hours and hours to showing off his residence to all manner of visitors rather than, say, doing his job. And of course the notion Obama “watched basketball all day” doesn’t even make sense. Basketball is generally not televised during working hours, except for the first two days of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament (which ought to be a national holiday.)

But the real telling detail in this anecdote is the juxtaposition between Trump’s sneering complaint that Obama watched television all day with his boast that Trump replaced it with a much better television. It is a sign that this story is the expression of some deeper wish fulfillment by Trump.

One of Trump’s favorite riffs during the campaign was that Obama played too much golf. The golf joke was Trump’s way of promising that, if he became president, he would work to the bone day in and day out without a break, because that’s just how much he wants to help the American people.

Trump has in fact spent an enormous amount of his presidency at golf resorts. He likewise starts his days late, ends early, gets bored in meetings, generally refuses to read, and fills his hours binge-watching cable news. In so many ways, Trump’s fever-dream charges against Obama became the blueprint for his own presidency.

Trump Said President Obama Watched Television All Day