Donald Trump was elected president in part because he is a Washington outsider. That lets him soar above the political swamp of Washington like a luxuriously plumed bird.
Of course, there are drawbacks to being an outsider, such as not knowing some tiny technical details of how the more obscure parts of government work. Here are a few small surprises that the Trump team has run into over its first few weeks in power.
There Are Three Branches Of Government
We know, we know -- three branches of government seems like an almost comical waste of resources, but an arcane publication called the Constitution (bookmark that, it may come up again later) says that's how many we're supposed to have. Believe us, we checked.
Trump was understandably shocked when his travel-ban-primarily-of-Muslims-that-is-not-a-Muslim-ban was halted by a "so-called judge," who it turns out was "so-called" because he was in fact a judge. And as a judge, he was doing his job by limiting the executive branch when he thought it was overreaching its authority.
The Trump team might have avoided this if they'd done a more thorough check than a legalzoom.com questionnaire, but apparently the order was written basically without consulting other agencies or departments, possibly even without consulting their own Office of Legal Counsel. A helpful mnemonic we use for remembering the number of branches in our government is:
Branches of three,
Democracies are we.
Branches of one,
Are typically fucking dictatorships.
Sometimes Life Is Rough
As the commander in chief of the military, you'd think you'd be afforded some basic creature comforts. But no, sometimes the job requires mental and physical endurance, such as having to use the 40-grit sandpaper towels aboard Air Force One which The Donald reports are "not soft enough."
Yes, the job is different than it seems in the movies. Next time you watch President James Marshall in Air Force One tell a terrorist to "Get off my plane," also imagine that he has slightly chafed hands. Those are the kinds of sacrifices the public never even knows you make. Heroic!
People Will Criticize You
You can understand why Trump would be surprised that people are criticizing him. He just became president because a lot of people like him. Are we supposed to believe that after just three weeks of erratic and bungling governance, people suddenly somehow dislike him? It sure seems more reasonable to assume, as the president has, that "any negative polls are fake news."
Well, according to the fake news dreck at Gallup, his approval ratings are going down. That might not come as such a blow if you take into account an old Washington insider's trick called "looking up what has happened in the past," because it's rare for a president's approval ratings to increase over the course of their term. If Trump wanted people to maximize domestic production of applause for himself -- as he seems so concerned with from his tweets -- he should resign his presidency as soon as possible before he loses anyone else.
At least he's making SNL great again!
The White House Is Nice
Unlike the cat-tongue towels in the shitty private jumbo jet the president rides around in, his house is nicer than expected. Trump was originally reluctant to move there from his luxury penthouse building in Manhattan, but has found the White House to actually be fairly comfortable. Like, they have nice phones, as he marveled at in a New York Times interview. And it's big, and also Lincoln lived there!
When it comes to the real important things the president has to deal with -- the niceness of phones, the bigness of rooms, the softness of towels -- it's a real roller coaster ride. Would a staff of Washington insiders have helped prepare the president for these revelations? Maybe!
People Will Get Mad At You For Watching Too Much TV
It might seem like a cruel joke, but it's true: You go through all the trouble of becoming the leader of the free world, and you aren't even free to watch as much TV as you want. It's a shock to all of us, but Trump is being forced reduce the number of hours he watches cable TV, bringing it down from all the hours.
Trump's aides are trying to minimize his TV watching, so now he barely has the chance to watch Morning Joe and Fox And Friends for two to three hours in the morning, Spicer's press briefings in the afternoons, and 60 Minutes, Access Hollywood, or Saturday Night Live in the evenings, plus whatever they are trying to keep him from watching "when he gets bored."
What is the use of fighting for freedom abroad when our own president can't even watch TV whenever he wants to? Sad!
You Might Have To Read Things
We live in a world so technologically advanced that the entire Library of Congress could be stored on a few hard drives. So shouldn't we be technologically advanced enough that the president can find a way to not read any of that bullshit? Surely the government isn't still living in the era of making marks on a physical sheet and then having the president move his eyeballs across that sheet to try to glean understanding of those marks? You'd think so, but the wheels of government move like glaciers (meaning they're rapidly being destroyed).
Despite being King of the America, it appears that the man himself is still expected to read and comprehend every single executive order he signs. Don't believe us? He apparently didn't realize he was appointing Steve Bannon to the National Security Council with an executive order he signed. Everyone is blaming him for this just because he signed something his staff didn't explain clearly enough to him. Even though he isn't a career politician, the president is somehow expected to read and understand every little thing he orders other people to do. Exhausting!
It Is Bad When People Die
When you become president, you know you're going to have to make some tough calls. You know that, possibly through no fault of your own, sometimes military operations will go sideways and blood will be shed. Apparently, what you don't know is that's a bad thing.
In an operation in Yemen on January 28, things did go awry, and there were horrific casualties: 23 civilians, including an eight-year-old girl and an American soldier. All in what was either an "intelligence-gathering" operation or a strike that missed a top target. Of course, Trump couldn't have known that the mission would go badly. But according to the think tank known as the Institute for People Who Aren't Sociopaths, two-dozen civilians and a SEAL dying in a raid is not "a successful operation by all standards."
It's OK, there's a learning curve to these things. How could the president be expected to know on day one that civilians dying is a bad thing? He's focusing on the Big Picture (the large flat screen he installed in the White House dining room). Sharp!
You Aren't Supposed To Profit Off The Presidency
Now, we all know that the president draws a salary from the government, but we also know that for top-level execs, salaries are bullshit. The main compensation from a high-level job isn't in the salary -- it's in the perks. But it turns out, not only does the presidency come with no profit-sharing, no options in the country, and no structured bonuses, but it's actually illegal to use the office to make real money for yourself or your family.
Trump counselor and zen koan master Kellyanne Conway is finding that out after she, in the middle of a televised interview, gave what was essentially a free commercial for Ivanka Trump's brand. We say it was essentially a free commercial because she literally said "I'm going to give a free commercial here. Go buy it today, everybody." There weren't ladies in lingerie whispering "Ivanka" or anything, but people got the point. Legal experts are currently looking into whether that might have legally crossed a line, because it was one of Trump's subordinates using their appointment to profit his family, which might have been -- as the chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform put it -- "wrong, wrong, wrong, clearly over the line, unacceptable."
Melania Trump is currently embroiled in a lawsuit wherein it recently came to light that she is planning on making a lot of money off her position as first lady. Surprisingly, that has actually come out in a suit in which she is the plaintiff, essentially bringing it up herself to establish how much her brand is worth. Now, first lady isn't a salaried position in the U.S. government, so enriching herself might be fine on paper. But if she was using her position to also enrich her husband, that could be a violation of the Foreign Emoluments and Domestic Emoluments clauses of the Constitution (told you that would come in handy later).
But Trump will eventually learn that he can't profit off the presidency ... or not, we don't actually know. According to the law, he isn't supposed to. But because he has yet to release much of his financial information -- despite being asked to do so by the Office of Government Ethics -- it's impossible to tell. We do know that his interests are more conflicted than a seminary student at a strip club, but nobody can stop him from doing anything without more information. But look, if you can't get a little side cash from the presidency, other than free pigs in a blanket what the heck is the point? Very, very, very sad!
The landmark case of Stairs v. Existence determined that stairs are in fact real-world objects, so you have a high probability of encountering them at some point. It looks as though Trump was ready to handle all the angles except all the right angles that make up stairs.
A wonderful bit of investigative reporting by Jezebel reveals that stairs terrify and confound the president. Every time he encounters them, he looks like he expected to be done with them once and for all, like your mom seeing your stoner friends from high school.
Contrary to what it very clearly looks like he was expecting, Trump will occasionally be called on to do battle with these platforms against patriotism, these shifty shelves, these probably-paid-by-Soros steps. Horrible!
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Most rich kids just want to be pop stars.
How did these hyper-specific tropes spread so quickly?
The Hollywood rumor mill has been playing games with celebrity deaths for at least a century.