Much of the country has been puzzled about Trump’s choice of his attention in the recent week. There was the failure of the GOP to repeal the ACA and Tom Price’s inappropriate spending of taxpayer money, but a great deal more of his attention went to professional football players. Why was he not primarily focused on helping Puerto Rico? Shouldn’t that have been the thing that needed the most attention and where he could gain the most points? And now that he is talking about Puerto Rico, his focus isn’t on what is being done to help but on how the criticism of what he has done is unwarranted.
I think I have it figured out. Trump has lived for years on the outside with opinions about what he would do if he were on the inside. He’d see something he disapproved of and tweet about it. He knew what should be done – if only he were in a place where he could do something about it. Trump is our first armchair president who actually got called up. Like somebody who criticizes the NFL quarterback they watch on TV suddenly finding themselves wearing the helmet in a huddle on a real football field.
Except in this case, Trump has discovered that he cannot just decide to throw the ball somewhere else and immediately impact change – there’s another team on the field, after all. Presidents don’t govern as Kings. And he is still watching TV seeing what people say about his presidency and deciding where his focus should be based on that. As though he was the quarterback who was supposed to be in the game but instead he’s up in the booth yelling at the TV about how the game he is supposed to be playing in isn’t going well. And it’s clearly not his fault since he’s not on the field.
So he didn’t tune in to a channel showing coverage of Puerto Rico – partly because the devastation was so bad that there wasn’t plentiful TV coverage. Instead he watched a football game with people kneeling. That got him worked up so that was his focus. And then that created a feedback loop. Now that he is seeing coverage about PR, it is about how he isn’t doing enough, so that is his focus. Which creates a new feedback loop. Somebody just needs to turn his TV to a channel that only shows suffering in PR so that will be his focus. So Fox & Friends, how about a story on Monday morning about how these American Citizens in Puerto Rico are without food and water and electricity weeks after Hurricane Maria destroyed their cities and homes and lives?