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One of the strangest things about the Trump presidency so far has been discovering that some of the things we took for granted about other presidencies—like, say, the First Lady and The President living together at the White House—don’t necessarily have to happen. They aren’t rules. They’re more like traditions, ones with good reasons behind them. But a president, it turns out, can’t be forced to follow them if he doesn’t want to.
And honestly, I’ve been having a hard time lately figuring out what is genuinely unusual and ground-breaking, and what was probably happening with other presidents but we just weren’t paying attention. I mean, I didn’t pay as much attention to President Obama in his first year as our leader as I have to President Trump in his first few weeks. I trusted President Obama, whereas President Trump does something questionable several times a day.
So often I find myself asking, is what President Trump is doing actually unusual? Or are we just getting alarmed at every little thing? Case in point: President Trump was hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his private Florida club, Mar-A-Lago, over the weekend. During dinner on Saturday night, half a world away, North Korea tested a missile, dumping it into the Sea of Japan. That’s like the nuclear version of subtweeting.
Instead of leaving the dinner table, Trump and Abe conferred with their people in full view of the other diners, and possibly within hearing of the wait staff. A nearby diner posted this to Facebook, along with two other pictures of Trump’s table:
This was in a public post by someone I assume is a member of Mar-A-Lago. I’ve blurred out his name because this guy isn’t the problem (you can see it in many other posts about the incident if you’re curious). I mean, he IS a problem, but one of about 23 million. The rest of his Facebook posts were a mix of family pictures, pictures at the club with Trump, liberal-bashing articles from sites not known for accuracy, and things like this:
At least his Facebook feed was filled with stuff like that, until it disappeared today around noon. I’m guessing that he’s having a bad day. I mean, you don’t disappear your Facebook account on a good day.
The comments on his post were initially from people who knew him:
But as the public got wind of the post, most of the comments talked about how stupid this guy was for posting those pictures. Frankly I think those commenters are idiots who are missing the forest for the trees. If I’d been there, I would have done the same thing.
Posting those pictures was almost a public service, even if that definitely wasn’t the guy’s intent – he’s obviously a huge fan of Trump, based on his now private (or gone) Facebook account. That guy wasn’t sworn to secrecy. Nobody took his cell phone. He was just having dinner in a semi-public place. Sure, it’s a private club, but Trump and Abe were dining on the terrace with everybody else. He showed the world just how lax Trump is being about security.
If there’s a problem, it’s with Trump and his choice of location. It’s with allowing fellow diners to have cell phones with them that could capture compromising pictures. It’s with choosing to have dinner with another world leader on a terrace with a bunch of other uninvited guests.
So is this weird? Did these things happen with Obama? The pictures are certainly giving us details that we wouldn’t have otherwise known about. For example, this article suggests that using cell phone flashlights to read what might have been classified documents was very stupid, just one of many questionable things Trump has done regarding security.
So, what do we do? How long do we allow our president to keep up his attempt at living his former life? How do we demand that he give up his insecure phone and his club and his businesses and his old ways? He never thought he would win the election, there’s plenty of evidence of that, so I’m sure he never gave any real thought to how his life would change as president. But that’s not really our problem. He’s the president now, he needs to act like it.
The longer things go on like this, the less weird they will seem. But they are weird. This isn’t how we do things…right? I feel like I’m losing my equilibrium.
But at least we have guys at nearby tables willing to spy on the president for us.