When Senator Bob Corker unabashedly described the White House as an adult day care center on Sunday, very few people seemed shocked by the comparison—and why would they be? Corker certainly wasn’t the first person to suggest President Trump possesses the political deftness of a toddler. And, according to an account in Politico, his assessment was extremely accurate.
Ten former and current administration officials appeared to corroborate Corker’s comparison in a Politico story published on Monday. Not only do staff members rely on “guardrails for a president who goes on gut feeling,” they’ve also reportedly mastered quite a few strategies for distracting Trump so that he doesn’t go off the rails, as Corker implied in a New York Times interview on Sunday. Those strategies sound a lot like ones used by childcare providers at a day care.
Before he resigned, former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus pulled the old “we’ll do that next week” technique when Trump floated an impulsive decision—like ending NAFTA or firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions:
Delaying the decision would give Priebus and others a chance to change his mind or bring in advisers to speak with Trump – and in some cases, to ensure Trump would drop the idea altogether and move on.
Manipulating the president’s impulsivity with a trick that anyone who has tried to stop a toddler from crying has used was followed by another tactic in the event it failed: call all of Trump’s friends and ask them to persuade him from the edge. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, an aide told Politico, was called at least five times to soothe an angry Trump. Aides had Corker’s number on speed dial, too:
Corker, for example, has been called by White House aides several times to speak with Trump about foreign policy, from Iran to Syria to North Korea to his Afghanistan strategy; sometimes, he’d check in with senior officials like Tillerson and Mattis before talking to the president. One senior administration official said Corker had even been put on speaker phone in the Oval Office, where aides sat gathered in chairs.
And then there’s a tidbit about Trump’s friends and aides deliberately and publicly criticizing him in hopes that he might listen to their concerns after reading them in print or hearing them on cable news:
Chris Ruddy, a longtime Trump friend, said on television in June that he thought Trump might fire special counsel Bob Mueller on TV, creating a firestorm – a calculated attempt to pre-empt what he feared could be a politically fatal move by the president.
Trump, a former executive at his company said, is “always reacting.” You know who else can’t help but react to anything and everything that affects or challenges their underdeveloped worldviews? Toddlers.