This is actually painful.
While stewing in the fresh juices of myriad scandals and political turmoil, the inexperienced “outsider” president is off on his first trip abroad, to speak with leaders in the highly volatile Middle East.
Why do I feel like this is the equivalent of a parent giving their 4-year old a lighter and a can of kerosene, then telling them go out into the woods and start a campfire?
The reports of the concerns of some of Trump’s advisers and Republican officials don’t look good, but they’re completely warranted, given what we’ve already seen transpire.
One Republican official, who requested anonymity in order to speak freely, said after meeting Trump recently he did not think the president had a firm enough grasp on the nuances of the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“I don’t think he understands it,” said the official, adding that Trump needed more detailed briefings before leaving on Friday. “I think it’s a very difficult challenge and I hope he’s going to talk to a lot of smart people.”
We know this much is true. Trump recently said he sees no reason why there can’t be peace between Palestine and Israel.
To prepare for this trip, the president has been meeting with others who have a bit more experience. Secretary of State Tillerson, national security adviser H.R. McMaster, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, deputy national security adviser Dina Powell… and of course… son-in-law Jared Kushner have all been trying to prep Trump for this first big test of foreign diplomacy.
Conversations with some officials who have briefed Trump and others who are aware of how he absorbs information portray a president with a short attention span.
He likes single-page memos and visual aids like maps, charts, graphs and photos.
This is nothing new. We’ve already heard the tales of Trump’s short attention span and his unwillingness to really crack down and absorb himself in the material or the necessities of the job.
This part is pretty uncomfortable, however:
National Security Council officials have strategically included Trump’s name in “as many paragraphs as we can because he keeps reading if he’s mentioned,” according to one source, who relayed conversations he had with NSC officials.
The ego. It really is all about him.
It was his ego that led him to blather on, veering off script and giving up highly classified intelligence to Russian officials last week, endangering our partners, in the process.
How far will his ego take him while in the Middle East?
I can’t even imagine, but I suspect we should all hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.