So much outcry about chaos at the White House. Who’s in? Who’s out? Yet we’ve failed to consider one important question.
What happens to the Weeks?
They’ve been such an administration highlight. Who can forget White House Infrastructure Week? Or Energy Week? Or the current American Dream Week, which the president celebrated by calling for a 50 percent cut in legal immigration?
Reince Priebus was said to have been a big Week maven, and he’s been, um, disappeared. Which is why I’m sort of worried about the end of a great new national tradition.
We still haven’t heard what the next Week is supposed to be. Do you think John Kelly got rid of them? That man cannot stop cleaning house.
All modern presidents have promoted themes they want us to think about, but the current administration has been a pioneer in packaging things into Weeks and then staging lots of events to remind us about their topic. President Donald Trump also generally proposes a bill on the same subject, which Congress promptly rejects.
This happened even during Infrastructure Week – who among us doesn’t like infrastructure? But Trump hasn’t been able to get his act together on a package of projects, so he started the week off with a call for privatizing the air traffic control system, which the Senate commerce committee cheerfully vetoed.
Also, to be fair, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders read a letter from a 10-year-old boy from Virginia who wants to mow the White House lawn. And that’s going to happen. “It’s our responsibility to keep the American dream alive for kids like Frank,” she told the media.
Because this administration has been so danged exciting, it’s easy to merge the Weeks with unrelated presidential events of the moment. So we’ll also remember Infrastructure Week as the one when the fired FBI director testified before Congress. And that during American Dream Week, a golfing story revealed that Trump had called the White House “a real dump.”
But even when the White House is in control of the timing, the Weeks tend to go awry.
Obviously, the idea of having the president give a speech to the Boy Scouts during Heroes Week was planned. But it’s a good bet the planners didn’t expect him to brag to the kids about winning the election, snipe at his political opponents and tell a really long story about a friend who sold his business and bought a big yacht.
Scout leaders were somewhat unnerved by the performance, but Trump, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, said “the head of the Boy Scouts” had called him to say “it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them.” The head of the Boy Scouts immediately denied that. Sanders told a press briefing that the president was talking about someone else.
So that was American Heroes Week. Plus the speech to law enforcement officials in which Trump appeared to advocate police brutality. Which Sanders told a press briefing was just a joke.
“The president went out of his way this week to give a special honor to some very special people,” said Lara Trump, the host of a brand-new news program on the president’s Facebook site, as she recounted some of the White House events. She is the wife of Eric Trump, otherwise known as the adult son not currently under investigation for talking with Russians.
Until now we have known Lara as an animal rights activist. Perhaps she could get us a White House Be Kind to Animals Week, in which her father-in-law would have to appear in public with a dog or a cat. This is the first president since James K. Polk who does not have a pet. All this could change in a wink of a Week.
There are all kinds of ways we could turn the Weeks around to the national interest. For instance, the State Department appears to be struggling to get the normal day-to-day business done for lack of staff. Perhaps we could have a Who Wants to Be Ambassador to Norway Week. The press secretary could read letters from 10-year-old volunteers, and on Friday the president could draw a name from a hat.
One of my favorite Weeks was Energy Week, when Trump and Rick Perry went around vowing to make the nation “energy dominant,” a concept so much more manly than energy independent. But still educational. “Here’s a little economics lesson: supply and demand,” Perry said during a coal mining promotion. “You put the supply out there and the demand will follow.”
And then, of course, there was Made in America Week, which Trump observed by requesting visas to hire foreign workers for Mar-a-Lago.
And Workforce Development Week, when Trump and daughter Ivanka met with CEOs to discuss worker training. And Tech Week, when Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner met with top executives of technology companies.
“I bet you haven’t heard about all the accomplishments the president had this week because there’s so much fake news out there,” Lara Trump told her audience.
What about a Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Week?