The Donald's Daily Routine
The New York Times published, or rather, painted an alarmingly intimate portrait of Mr. Trump in its recent article, “Inside Trump’s Hour-by-Hour Battle for Self-Preservation”. In it, the Times breaks down quite literally from one minute to the next Trump’s diurnal goings-on. It’s a curious existence, Trump’s is, but this much we’ve known for some time. His life has always lent itself to eccentricities and exposés, paparazzi and fanfaronade. One doesn’t become a real estate mogul, beauty pageant host, reality television star, self-proclaimed scion and symbol of a city, and connoisseur of all things controversial without opening oneself to intrigue and probing eyes. This was the case when he was a “private” citizen (if ever he was), long before he crash-landed into the West Wing. Now, as the chief public figure, in a country whose chief past-time is boring into people’s privacy, Trump’s daily routine is laid bare for all to see.
His day starts off auspiciously enough, with an early morning alarm stirring him from his sleep. Much like his early predecessor, Thomas Jefferson, who was proud of his ascetic sleep schedule (he once boasted that “the sun has not caught me in bed in fifty years!”), Trump also beats to the starting line that vital ball of heat. He rises at 5:30 a.m., a most sublime or soporific hour, depending on your personality. Most hit snooze, but I for one find the time lovely—although it’s a conditioned love, no doubt. Some use the quiet hour for calisthenics, others for philosophy and exercises of the mind. Still others for a tranquil cup of coffee or tea bathed in solitude.
President Trump, on the other hand, forgoes all of these physical and spiritual delicacies by the dawn’s early light. Instead, as the dew rests heavy on the White House lawn, he turns his attention to cable news. His eyes fall first upon CNN, his bête noire and guilty pleasure. There, he receives breaking stories or second-helpings of yesterday’s conversations. He also begins collecting tinder; something New Day’s Chris Cuomo says is bound to anger and enflame him. From Cuomo’s mouth to Trump’s ears, he’ll find fuel to stow away for a later conflagration.
He then switches over to Fox and Friends, a haven never far from his heart. There he finds himself soothed in an acrid but familiar salve. The show is stridently to the Right with little interest in impartiality. The anchors there laud and grovel, knowing they serve themselves best when they massage Trump’s caprice. Still in the early morning, perhaps no later than 6:30, the president is smitten with the sycophancy. He charges up his iPhone and urges his nearly 40 million Twitter followers to tune into the Fox and Friends’ segments.
Fox News provides fertile ground for him. It’s his edenic escape, where he finds solidarity and where the majority of his supporters converge. It used to be considered the least trustworthy of the three major, 24-hour news networks, but this recently seems to have changed. There was a time all of the stations (Fox, CNN, and MSNBC) were lamentably slanted, but not commensurately so. Now, it seems like all three are equally unreliable in viewer’s eyes.
If CNN is Trump’s tinder, Fox News is his oxygen. With it, he’s one step away from a combustion. All that’s missing is friction, and we know he needn’t be given that. Friction, you see, grinds in his constitution. Nothing comes to him more naturally, for it’s in his DNA. He wears it with a chip on his shoulder or an epaulet on his sleeve. That said, if in fact he needs just a little more priming, he turns to “Dumb-as-a-rock” Mika and “Psycho” Joe on MSNBC. With this final channel change, he moves from cosseting back o contemptuous and is ready to begin his day.
I’ve spent so much time here exploring the televisual habits of a seventy-one-year-old man because the “tube” subsumes a remarkably large portion of his life. Extended screen-time is no longer just a young man’s affliction. And while it’s become increasingly common for elder Americans to find themselves sedentarily glued to the tube, it’s odd to see this trait in a sitting president—aged though he may be. It’s been reported before, but the NYT’s journalists iterated that the president spends at least four hours each day in front of the television. And while he’s not actively watching it, it’s audibly on in the background. And while he’s neither watching nor listening to it, it remains turned on but muted within a glancing view. Some aides have confided that on occasion, his actual T.V. time might be closer to eight hours—one third of the day.
Lest we think him some kind of vapidly consumptive T.V. addict, a sack of bones in a paralyzed state of anoesis, Trump also has a long-seated interest in the written word. He’s said to be an avid newspaper reader, preferring his familiar New York dailies. These include the Wall Street Journal, the N.Y. Post, and the aforementioned New York Times. He marks them up and down with a black Sharpie and has his amanuensis aides convert them to PDFs. He’s nothing if not broad-minded when it comes to scouring the media for information. And yes, he may just be doing it to find articles that confirm his biases and others that redouble his scorn, but at least he’s perusing multiple outlets and many sides. Most people are constrained to their choice outlets as though indentured. Here, in absorbing so many antithetical opinions, the president might actually (albeit unwittingly) serve as an example we might do well to follow. We should all dip a toe in every side and in every aisle, always careful, though, not to dive in.
Putting on the back burner for a moment his media diet, which seems to me rather well-balanced if not wholly nutritive, The Times outlined Trump’s eating habits. They’re enough to induce a hyperglycemic scare. Most shockingly is the copious amount of Diet Coke he guzzles throughout the day. It’s said that from sunrise to set, he can finish off twelve cans. Admittedly, it’s a sugar-less drink, but there’s something to be said for all things in moderation. Perhaps the bubbly beverage explains his effervescent personality and unquenchable energy.
When he’s not quaffing Diet Coke, he enjoys “well-done steak, salads slathered with Roquefort dressing and bacon crumbles, tureens of gravy, and massive slices of dessert with extra ice cream”. The umbilical button leaps from its stitch just thinking about the bloat from this meal. But he is a large man, clearing 6’2”, and a powerful one at that. Accordingly, we mustn’t be surprised that he dines powerfully, with forceful forkfuls of red-meat, the quintessential All-American staple.
Satiated, sated, and sodden in saturated fat, it’s time for the president to rest. Before drifting into five or six hours of sleep, he caps the day as it began. Remote in hand, and Melania by his side, he flips the channel to CNN. There, with obtrusively heavy eyelids—less able now to withstand gravity’s gentle tug—he “hate watches” the evening programs. Like bullets in barrel, he stows the ammunition for the coming day. Having had enough, he nods off to sleep, where his dreams replace lost battles with long-sought victories. In due time, a New Day will again begin.