It has been, by any objective standard, a tough week for President Trump.
A week ago Monday, he was crisscrossing the Eastern United States, rallying in support of Republican candidates in the hopes of offsetting a Democratic surge on Election Day. Three times in one day he stood behind a lectern and riffed on politics, enjoying the energetic agreement of his supporters in the room. And then, on Nov. 6, the rallies came to an end along with the idea that the midterm election may not be the sort of rebuke that he’d feared. His party held the Senate, sure, but it was expected to. It lost the House by a margin that grows wider every day as votes keep coming in.
The Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker report that this was only one component of Trump’s frustrating week. A planned trip to Paris — something of a consolation prize for his desired military parade being tabled — meant days surrounded by U.S. allies, people he often finds annoying. The Los Angeles Times’s Eli Stokols catalogued Trump’s withdrawal from the world over the past seven days, including canceling a trip to Colombia, skipping a ceremony at a cemetery for Americans outside Paris and not visiting Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day.
“Trump needs adulation, so heading into the midterms, holding these rallies, he was cheered, and it became narcissistic fuel to his engine,” presidential historian Douglas Brinkley told Dawsey and Rucker. “After the midterm, it’s the sober dawn of the morning.”
“Trump has retreated into a cocoon of bitterness and resentment, according to multiple administration sources,” Stokols writes.
We can actually visualize the shift in energy in the White House. His daily schedule — which doesn’t necessarily include every activity on his plate — shows the frenetic pace of the days before the election. Trips to rallies stacked atop one another, a presidential event or meeting occasionally slotted in.
Notice the week of Oct. 22: In addition to three rallies, Trump also held meetings and events, a sort of typical baseline of activity for the president. There was still plenty of time to tweet and watch Fox News Channel, but he also signed legislation, gave speeches, addressed policy issues and received his daily intelligence briefing.
Exclude the trip to France over the weekend (and that aborted excursion to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery), and Trump’s schedule since that frenetic pre-election Monday has included:
- Two intelligence briefings
- Two meetings (both with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo)
- One ceremony (celebrating Diwali)
- One news conference
- One event (the investiture of Brett M. Kavanaugh at the Supreme Court)
Over the course of eight days.
Those last two events, one could argue, were ones that allowed Trump some sliver of that pre-election joy. Kavanaugh was a political success for the president, both in terms of the confirmation vote in the Senate and in terms of motivating his base. The news conference gave Trump an opportunity to spin the results of the election, however unsuccessfully.
As of writing on Wednesday morning, Trump hasn’t even tweeted in nearly 18 hours. That’s not a record, but there are few better signs of Trump having withdrawn from the world — at least temporarily.