The president’s idiot hijinks with his unprotected iPhone were bleak but funny. Yesterday’s Politico story about “executive time” was just bleak. The message—which is no surprise to anyone who understood in the first place that Donald Trump is a decrepit old man who hates work—is that the job duties of the presidency are too much for him and he’s already quit:
President Donald Trump had about three times as much free time planned for last Tuesday as work time, according to his private schedule. The president was slated for more than nine hours of “Executive Time,” a euphemism for the unstructured time Trump spends tweeting, phoning friends and watching television. Official meetings, policy briefings and public appearances—typically the daily work of being president—consumed barely more than three hours of his day.
In the universe where people pretended Trump might become a cheerfully nihilist disruptor of the Imperial Presidency, and possibly of empire itself, it could imaginably be good news that the president is not a relentlessly overscheduled workaholic. Republicans still cherish the memory of Ronald Reagan bumbling and snoozing through his schedule, and the nerdier ones always talked about Calvin Coolidge doing as little as possible, as a fable about true commitment to limited government. (The fable ends with the collapse of the entire global economy, but not until after Coolidge had made his getaway.)
But no, the president is an addled old ninny who yells at the television all day and insists he is being chief executive, and so our executive branch is governing the country via television-yell:
[E]ven Trump allies who say the president is always working concede that the Trump presidency is uniquely defined by his down time, when his short-term bugaboos become the drivers of his agenda, rather than any long-term vision. “He might read something in the paper and immediately you’d get an impromptu meeting on trade,” said a person familiar with the president’s scheduling. “It’s just more impromptu than like a month in advance you have a policy time set that you’re going to work up to.”
When past presidents were incapacitated—Woodrow Wilson by a stroke, Richard Nixon by being too drunk and paranoid to function, Reagan by dementia—other people were able to maneuver around them and run things. But the euphemism of “executive time” is functionally a fact: This is how the chief executive spends his time. Trump, despite having “chafed at back-to-back meetings that kept him off his phone and away from the television” is still in charge, so the boring parts just don’t get done.