Saturday, February 18, 2017

President Trump's limited attention span

President Obama used to have dinner with his family in the East Wing, then settle down in a quiet place to read his briefing books and other background reading until midnight or after.

Knowing what we know about President Trump's limited attention span, we didn't expect him to follow Obama's pattern.   But, according to some staff who know, it's worse than we thought.

Trump does not read briefing books.   He asks for his daily briefing to be reduced to a one page digest, with bullet points, but no more than nine per page.   That means, if there is a tenth important thing for him to know, it has to wait for the next day, I suppose.

Trump fills his unscheduled time watching cable news and Saturday Night Live -- and internet, Breitbart-type rantings.   Then he blasts out his thoughts on Twitter, sometimes just repeating what he's heard on any of these sites.

Personally, I feel very uncomfortable knowing our president and commander-in-chief puts our vital interests and national security at risk by responding publicly, to his millions of followers, with random, unvetted rantings of zealots and charlatans that he seems to give as much credence to as he does to the carefully vetted information from our intelligence experts.

That would explain why he still insists, without evidence, that voter fraud kept him from winning the popular vote.  And his too-brief briefing books page, which cannot include background on major issues, would explain why he had to pause, during his phone call with Putin, to ask his aides what the New START Treaty is, even though it is a major agreement between us and Russia for mutually reducing our nuclear warheads.  He didn't know -- for all his closeness with Putin.

You have to expect that a new president may not be up to speed on everything.   But combine that with a new president who does not read and will not sit still long enough to be briefed adequately.   It's really going to show as he has more contact with foreign leaders -- and even press conferences.   As happened Wednesday, when a reporter asked him if he was going to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus.  He obviously did not know what she was talking about.  


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