News and Commentary

HE SO DUMB: Politico Says Trump Doesn’t Understand How Time Zones Work

When George W. Bush was president, one heavily pushed Democratic talking point was that Vice President Dick Cheney really ran the White House. Why? Cuz’ Bush, he be so dumb.

The same meme went mainstream with President Trump very early in his presidency. Having just worshiped at the altar of The Chosen One for eight years, the mainstream media had to let the world know that no one could ever be as smart as Barack Obama — certainly not a crass billionaire reality TV show host from New York.

So it makes sense that Politico, a liberal website founded by two former Washington Post reporters, is once again pushing the idea that Trump is very (very) dumb.

“Trump’s diplomatic learning curve: Time zones, ‘Nambia’ and ‘Nipple,'” reads the headline of the story, written by Daniel Lippmann. Says the sub-headline: “The president has often perplexed foreign officials and his own aides as he learns how to deal with the world beyond America’s borders.”

Several times in the first year of his administration, President Donald Trump wanted to call Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the middle of the afternoon. But there was a problem. Midafternoon in Washington is the middle of the night in Tokyo — when Abe would be fast asleep.

Trump’s aides had to explain the issue, which one diplomatic source said came up on “a constant basis,” but it wasn’t easy.

“He wasn’t great with recognizing that the leader of a country might be 80 or 85 years old and isn’t going to be awake or in the right place at 10:30 or 11 p.m. their time,” said a former Trump NSC official. “When he wants to call someone, he wants to call someone. He’s more impulsive that way. He doesn’t think about what time it is or who it is,” added a person close to Trump.

Let’s unpack this a bit. First, Trump is a world traveler and has been for decades and decades (he even has his own 747). So the notion that Trump doesn’t know how time zones work is absurd.

Second, the piece says Trump would want to call “in the middle of the afternoon,” but then quotes “a former NSC official” as saying some leaders might not be up at “11 p.m their time.” Because we do understand how time zones work, we want to point out that mid-afternoon — say, 3 p.m. — in Washington, D.C., isn’t 11 p.m. in Tokyo, it’s 4 a.m. Not a better time to call, mind you, but at least it’s accurate.

The Politico piece goes on and on painting Trump as dumb — he called Nepal “Nipple” and Bhutan “button,” the story claims — before offering the White House a chance to rebut the inside scoops by anonymous people, identified only as “two sources with knowledge.”

But first, the author wrote this: “The mistakes may not be surprising for a leader inexperienced in foreign affairs and accustomed to flouting convention. But some seasoned former diplomats say they risk doing real harm to America’s image — and interests — overseas.” A supportive quote follows — by a former aide to Presidents Clinton and Obama (shocking).

Then the article finally quotes White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders:

“The president has developed strong relationships and good rapports that are not only friendly, but also allow for candid conversations with many of America’s closest allies,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told POLITICO. “He has even worked the phone with our competitors, injecting stability into bilateral relationships that are undergoing contentious, but necessary readjustments to place American interests first. Foreign leaders appreciate that the President is willing to take their calls day and night.”

“The president has made clear that when leaders reach out for calls, [aides should] set them up right away. He has had foreign leaders calls very late at night and never wants another leader to wait before their call is returned,” she added.

So which is it? Does Trump not understand how time zones work or does he just want to call promptly to be polite?

Says the article:

A White House official said Trump, as a former jet-setting global businessman, understands how time zones work but doesn’t dwell on such details when he wants to talk to a foreign leader. “He’s the president of the United States. He’s not stopping to add up” time differences, the official said. “I don’t think anybody would expect him or Obama or Bush or Clinton or anybody to do that. That’s the whole reason you have a staff to say ‘Yes, we’ll set it up,’ and then they find a time that makes most sense.”

And America’s mainstream media wonders why Trump calls them “fake news.”

By the way, our guess is that when Trump calls at 11 p.m., those foreign leaders get on the phone lickety split. He is the leader of the free world, after all.