President Trump expects members of his administration to debase themselves with displays of personality-cultism, in order to dispel the suspicion that they are working for him in order to manipulate him or to save the country from his dangerous ignorance while secretly despising him as a kind of child monarch. Today, Budget Director, Acting Chief of Staff, and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Mick Mulvaney — whose many job titles bring an equally large responsibility to flatter the boss — told a story about Trump’s almost superhuman work ethic.
The president, he told an audience, did not sleep at all on his flight home from India, and then continued working through the entire next day. When Mulvaney protested that Trump should rest, he confided to his audience, Trump demurred with the explanation that he wants to wring every working moment out of his time in the White House. “I only have eight years, I want to get as much out of it as I possibly can,” Trump allegedly said.
One problem with this heroic narrative of Trump working himself to the bone is that it is not true. He has played extraordinary amounts of golf, hiding the total from the public. Axios and Politico have both obtained secret copies of Trump’s schedule, both of which show the president squeezing about a day’s worth of actual work into every week.
Another problem is that Trump doesn’t even do an especially good job of pretending it’s true. Let’s look at yesterday. Amid a potential global pandemic that is both a public-health and economic crisis, Trump found time to schedule a meeting with two washed-up actors who star in a play depicting two FBI agents who investigated his connection to Russia. And Trump turns out to be such a patron of the arts — or, at least, right-wing agitprop in the guise of art — that he shocked his guests by tripling the length of the meeting. “We went for a 15-minute meeting that took 45 minutes,” gushed the playwright.
Trump also scheduled an on-camera meeting with YouTube stars Diamond and Silk. Watch this and bear in mind that almost every government in the world is on emergency footing right now:
Trump also keeps a live journal recording his lack of actual governing responsibility, posting regular entries on Twitter.com. Often he livetweets commentary about the cable-news coverage he binge-watches. A staffer at Media Matters has a job largely consumed with matching up Trump’s tweets with the cable-news shows that he is tweeting about. It’s endless:
Maybe when Trump said he wants to “get as much out of it as I possibly can,” he meant watching television when all the shows are talking about Trump constantly?
Now, it is true that Trump does not sleep much. He is also notorious for refusing to sleep on overseas flights, tormenting his staff by engaging them in pointless banter when they are trying to rest up for their actual jobs. But his lack of sleep is definitely not a function of manic work ethic.