I knew I’d miss the eminently gracious President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama entertaining at the White House. They hosted cultural celebrations of various kinds, opening the People’s House to a broad and diverse swathe of America, inviting in the rest of us via coverage on TV. One of those events was the elegant White House reception before the Kennedy Center Honors.
This year the Trumps are not attending the Kennedy Center Event. Trump doesn’t want to go anywhere where he risks being booed. I doubt this high end crowd would actually boo, but clearly the reception would not be warm much less adulatory. And the pre-event at the White House is canceled after three of the five honorees announced they wouldn’t go because of Trump’s moral equivocation re white supremacists and Neo-Nazis after the tragedy in Charlottesville.
There are many signs of how isolated from American life Trump is, this far from the most serious or consequential. But it is significant, and to me a little shocking, that after so little time in the White House, the Trumps are already radioactive.
Beyond big events, there is no visible evidence of family life in the White House, as there was with the Obamas. Trump seems to spend his free time golfing with male friends, watching TV, or on the phone with people who still want to talk with him. I don’t know what Melania does all day. The White House can be a lonely and isolating place. I’m sure she misses her New York friends, and it’s much harder to make new friends — as opposed to sycophants and hangers-on — in the hothouse environment of Washington D.C. There is no sign that the Trumps are going to host cultural events, or work to demonstrate that the First Family is there in part to model family values for the nation.
The Trump presidency represents so many losses, it’s hard to say this is the biggest or the worst. But it is noticeable. We don’t really have a First Family, and the White House — which Trump describes as “a dump” — is not much the People’s House.