Traditionally, White House staffers cherish the opportunity to travel with the president overseas on Air Force One as a perk of their service. But traditionally, the president they are traveling with is not Donald Trump. CNN reports on the dread and horror that has overtaken the White House staff when duty calls upon them to accompany the 45th president. “It’s like being held captive,” one source reports.
The experience of overseas travel with Trump is almost exactly like traveling overseas with a poorly behaved toddler:
Trump won’t stop watching television. The screen-addicted president just keeps doing what he does at home, which is binge-watch TV for hours and get angry. The difference is that, on the plane, they can’t get away:
Trump will spend hours reviewing cable news coverage recorded on a TiVo-like device or sifting through cardboard boxes of newspapers and magazines that have been lugged aboard. He’ll summon sleeping staffers to his office at moments the rest of the plane is dark, impatient to discuss his upcoming meetings or devise a response to something he saw in the media.
Like at home, Trump’s method of governing is to see things on television that anger him and order his staffers to make them go away: “Trump has long insisted that he is treated unfairly by the news media, and if he sees something on television that bothers him — ‘which he invariably will,’ one official quipped — he instructs his staff to fix it, no matter if they are at the White House or flying over the Atlantic Ocean,” according to CNN.
On Trump’s Air Force One, the overnight is dark and full of terrors.
Trump won’t go to sleep. The president and First Lady are the only passengers equipped with lie-flat beds. Despite this, Trump resists his staff’s attempts to get him to go to sleep. Trump “will hold court for hours on end, despite staffers encouraging him to join first lady Melania Trump in the private cabin and get some rest,” the story notes. “He will not go to sleep,” reports a source. Unfortunately, Trump is well past the age at which pediatricians recommend sleep-training.
Trump does not like the TV in other countries. When he lands, rather than meet with foreign leaders, Trump heads straight to his hotel. He often complains about the lack of familiar television channels. “After he discovered to his displeasure on an early foreign trip that his beloved Fox News was not available in his foreign hotel, the White House Communications Agency arranged for a streaming service that would allow him to keep up with his favorite programs,” reports CNN. “He typically asks for multiple televisions in his room, depending on the size of the space, one source said.”
Trump also does not like the food in foreign countries. “Host governments worked to avoid presenting the President with food that might seem challenging, such as fish with the head still attached.” It probably seems unfair to Trump that he has to travel to all these different countries when none of them can make a hamburger as good as the ones he gets at home.
Trump does not like it when people are talking about non-Trump subjects. He is known to love meetings set up by foreign dictators that make him the subject of elaborate displays of flattery. (Trump “prefers trips where he is the guest of honor instead of the large summit meetings that comprise chunks of any US president’s calendar.”) He hates meeting with other democratically elected leaders, where he will have to listen to what other people want and possibly negotiate boring policy questions. (“At the yearly G7 and G20 gatherings, Trump has felt ganged up on by other leaders, according to administration officials.”)
The good news is that, if you can arrange to let Trump have his favorite food, his favorite television stations, and surround him with people who will talk incessantly about how much they love Trump, then the visit will be fine, until you get back to the plane and Trump starts to get upset at cable news again.