A Politico report on the White House’s effort to manage the president’s reaction to today’s James Comey testimony contains the remarkable revelation that even though nobody on his team thinks it would be smart for him to watch and live tweet, nobody thinks they can stop him either:
White House aides are trying to keep Trump busy Thursday morning with meetings so he won't watch TV and tweet during the hearing.
"But if he wants to watch it, it's not like we can say, ‘oh, the TV doesn't work,’" one official said.
My toddler gets to watch TV on rainy days when he can’t go to the park, which sometimes leads him to demand TV the next day, even if the sun is shining. For a while, we were able to trick him by saying the television wasn’t working. More recently, we’ve just had to tell him the truth — we’re not going to let him do it — and listen to him complain for a bit. The difference, of course, is that he’s 2 years old and not the president of the United States.
It turns out the staff isn’t going to be able to enforce the rule, and Trump will watch Comey — though with a team of lawyers on hand to make sure he doesn’t tweet anything too crazy.
In general, I think analogizing Trump to a toddler is a disservice to toddlers and underplays the critical role a life of privilege and impunity has played in shaping Trump’s worldview.
But it is striking and telling that Trump’s own advisers repeatedly describe him in these terms. The public often had the perception that George W. Bush was a bit of a dim bulb, but his closest advisers always strenuously denied this and said that in person he was extremely alert and intelligent — and most journalists who sat down with him one on one agreed.
Those who’ve worked with Hillary Clinton, similarly, describe a warmer, more passionate, more compelling figure than the one perceived by the public. That’s the norm for any high-level politician — his or her closest aides and advisers will swear that he or she is even more wonderful than anyone in the public knows.
Not Trump. The friendliest spin about Trump that you ever hear from inside the White House is that the president is immature and inattentive, not actively malicious. It’s bizarre.