President Donald Trump is well known for his vacation time. He has made numerous trips to his Mar-a-Lago country club in south Florida, costing taxpayers millions and forcing the Secret Service to rent his golf carts.
But even when he is in the White House, he apparently spends a lot of his time goofing off. According to the Washington Post, Trump likes to kill time by just showing people around his residence:
Often spending days ensconced in the presidential residence, Trump relishes giving tours to acquaintances and strangers by the hundreds, bragging all the while about improving it while he lives there, according to nearly a dozen visitors and current and former White House aides, most of whom requested anonymity to reveal details of the private events. With dangling new chandeliers and imported art work added during his tenure, sightseeing with guests in the White House is among his favorite activities, they said.
During the 35 days that the government was partially shut down over his demand for border wall funding, Trump gave a number of visitors looks inside the West Wing, White House aides say. After hosting a fast-food feast for the Clemson Tigers football team on Jan. 14, he surprised some players by bringing them into the Oval Office.
Apparently, one of Trump’s favorite topics for White House guests is telling people where former President Bill Clinton and White House intern Monica Lewinsky consummated their affair. He also reportedly likes to bring members of Congress up to the Lincoln Bedroom and speculate on how a man of Abraham Lincoln’s height could have fit in such a small bed.
There is nothing inherently unusual or inappropriate about presidents making themselves accessible within the White House, but as presidential historian Douglas Brinkley describes it, these impromptu tours have become something of a procrastination method for Trump. “He’s very restless and doesn’t like desk work,” said Brinkley to the Post. “He’d rather roam around and B.S. with people than hunker down.”
And the problem is that when Trump distracts himself like this at critical moments, like during his disastrous government shutdown that left 800,000 federal workers without pay, millions of people at risk of losing food and housing aid, and major airports grounding flights, it reflects poorly on his priorities and sense of urgency.
It is clear that Trump is every bit the showman as president as he has been throughout the rest of his career in the national spotlight. But showmanship is not all it takes to be an effective head of government.