At present, Donald Trump has a lot on his plate. He’s got his burgeoning trade war with the U.S.’s biggest allies to fight, plus a separate tariffs battle with China. He’s got a summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un to plan for. He’s got a better Iran nuclear deal than the one he “tore up” to come up with. He’s got the upcoming hurricane season to prepare for, and an entire U.S. territory—Puerto Rico—that still hasn’t recovered from the one last fall. Historically, a president would want to absorb all of the complex details and nuance surrounding these issues before dictating policy responses to them. But in 2018, with the world’s laziest president running its most powerful country, major decisions are made based on a combination of information gathered from cable TV, and whatever three-word bullet points Trump’s advisers can get him to read while tweeting.
While President Barack Obama would reportedly “devour” the briefing binder sent to the White House residence every night—also known as “The Book”—and then “send [it] back to the staff with detailed notes in the margin,” aides working for the current president, whose days revolve around fitting in 4-6 hours of TV, have had to rely on “workarounds” to get him to read anything. Axios relays the terrifying details:
These tactics for spoon-feeding crucial geopolitical details to the kindergartener-in-chief were apparently born out of Trump’s refusal “to engage with briefers like his former national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, who’d come in with a PowerPoint deck dozens of pages long, filled with text.” That approach backfired when Trump, who is against facts in general but especially when they come with long, boring lectures, began shuffling through papers on his desk while McMaster was talking, a move intended to indicate “the general was failing to interest him,” because the former reality-show star expects not only to be the best-informed person in the world, but to be entertained, damn it. “He used complete sentences!” exclaimed a person who witnessed the former national security adviser’s briefings, aghast. So, you know, just rest assured knowing that the president will have plenty of news chyrons and MAGA-esque slogans to throw out in, say, Singapore, a world-historical summit that Trump has said is less about preparation and more about “attitude” and a “willingness to get things done.”
By: Bess Levin, Vanity Fair