The Washington Post hasn’t exactly been friendly to the Trump administration– so it isn’t very surprising that the newspaper would contact the White House for comment on a story examining whether Trump is aloof when it comes to relationships with key staffers. What was surprising was a White House statement that sounded a little bit like… overcompensation.
WaPo on Monday published a piece announcing “Snubs and slights are part of the job in Trump’s White House.”
That a president may be clueless when it comes to making sure interactions with members of his team is an extremely original premise. Barack Obama was sometimes accused of being arrogant. George W. Bush was accused of living in a fantasy world. And Bill Clinton’s wife famously berated Secret Service agents as though she were queen of America.
When you’re one of the most powerful people in the world, it turns out that a lot of people think you’re an asshole. And we’ve certainly had our share of presidents who were.
Trump has spent most of his adult life being the boss. So the idea that he may not actually be in tune with the feelings of his underlings doesn’t come as a shock.
This was the crux of the WaPo report:
In Trump’s White House, aides serve a president who demands absolute loyalty — but who doesn’t always offer it in return. Trump prefers a management style in which even compliments can come laced with a bite, and where enduring snubs and belittling jokes, even in public, is part of the job.
Allies say the president’s quips are simply good-natured teasing, part of an inclusive strategy meant to make even mid-level staff members feel like family. But others consider Trump’s comments pointed reminders to those who work for him that he is in charge — barbs from the boss that keep aides on guard and off kilter, and can corrode staff morale.
Again, not huge news.
What is perhaps newsworthy, is the bizarre way in which White House spokesman Hope Hicks responded to WaPo questions about the president’s management style.
President Trump has a magnetic personality and exudes positive energy, which is infectious to those around him. He has an unparalleled ability to communicate with people, whether he is speaking to a room of three or an arena of 30,000. He has built great relationships throughout his life and treats everyone with respect. He is brilliant with a great sense of humor . . . and an amazing ability to make people feel special and aspire to be more than even they thought possible.
Hicks could truly believe everything she said. But she comes from a PR background and she currently works in the White House. So, unlike president’s tweets, it’s pretty safe to assume that this wasn’t an off cuff remark to a question about the mood in Trump’s White House.
It certainly wasn’t her intention. But with one fawning quote, Hicks turned what would have otherwise been a yawn of a news-piece into a story that makes you have to wonder how much energy will have been wasted polishing Trump’s image and padding his ego by the time his presidential tenure is up.
The bottom line is that no one who cares about the nation’s future could give a damn whether Trump is kind to his White House staff. If he does a good job on the economy and working to get the U.S.’s nose out of everyone else’s business, his supporters would be perfectly fine with the president dog cussing the entire West Wing at 8 a.m. every morning.
But if he keeps taking the mainstream media’s bait, the Trump administration will remain too busy responding to make any real news of its own.