Sunday, March 5, 2017

The PR Presidency

A few days after Donald Trump’s inauguration, Sean Spicer was asked why his boss had not signed as many executive orders on Day One as he had promised to do during the campaign.

Spicer's answer: “If we put 'em all out on one day, they get lost in the ether, I think.”

In other words, what is more important than taking executive action is making a show out of taking executive action. If Donald Trump signs, say, ten documents on the same day and does one photo op about it, that is less useful for PR purposes than spreading out the signings over ten days, each with its own photo op.

Not very efficient in terms of getting things done, but at least that way you get the maximum amount of attention out of it.

The same thing is happening now with Trump’s revised travel ban. When the first one was stopped by a judge in Washington State, Trump darkly warned that any delay in implementing the ban would endanger Americans, since there was an "imminent" threat from the seven countries covered by the ban.

Now, the executive order for the new, improved travel ban order is apparently ready for signing, meaning that by the stroke of a pen, Trump can take action immediately against what he claims are dangerous people trying to enter the US.

The order was supposed to be signed on Wednesday, the day after Trump’s speech to Congress. But it was delayed reportedly because the White House didn’t want it to overshadow all the (relatively) positive coverage Trump has been getting from his surprisingly calm, adult-sounding speech on Tuesday night.

An unnamed official reportedly told CNN, "We want the (executive order) to have its own 'moment.'"

It seems that the threat to American is not nearly so “imminent” that the executive action designed to stop it can’t be put off a day or two, you know, to leverage the PR benefit to the hilt. For Trump, it seems appearances is what's really important. But, then again, that should come as no surprise to anyone. Trump, when it comes down to it, is all image and no substance. 

Related to this, I have a question that I have not seen covered by the media. The Trump travel ban is to be imposed only temporarily (just 90 days), not permanently. This is in order to give Trump time to find out “what’s going on” with immigration from dangerous countries.

My question: is the government actually doing anything to “find out what’s going on”?

I suspect the answer is "no". I think Donald Trump -- and his supporters -- simply liked the idea of a ban, whether it's actually needed or not. For appearance's sake, you might say. And that's all that really matters, isn't it?  

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