The White House Has Reportedly Lost Its Luster for Donald Trump – Vanity Fair
For awhile, the White House had that new administration glow for Donald Trump. He complimented its telecom systems in a seminal report by The New York Times published in the days after the inauguration. “These are the most beautiful phones I’ve ever used in my life,” he said. (Worth noting that the new president was possibly less enthralled with their aesthetic beauty and more enamored with the way they weren’t bugged.) His aides told Maggie Haberman that he “marveled” at the “splendor” upon arrival. “They have a lot of board rooms,” Trump astutely observed. He called the place “elegant.”
Oh, what a difference six months or so makes. Trump has made something of a habit of spending weekends away from the presidential residence, preferring his Florida club, Mar-a-Lago, in the winter months and his Bedminster golf club in New Jersey this summer. (Though it’s difficult to know for sure—the White House and the clubs themselves won’t confirm the number of presidential visits—but NBC News has estimated that he’s spent 14 days at Bedminster in close to 200 days in office.) And now we may have some insight as to why. According to a new report in Golf magazine by Alan Shipnuck on the president’s, well, golfing habits, he chattily explained to some members of Bedminster that he visits the property so frequently because, “‘That White House is a real dump.’” A White House spokesperson refuted the report.
He’s not the only one to toss off remarks like that. Presidents have likened it to prison before, including Barack Obama and Harry Truman. The executive mansion endured a complete gut renovation under Truman, too. That was finished in the 1950s, and it hasn’t undergone anything as massive since, though general upkeep and preferential touches are added with each new administration. Trump’s fabled gold drapes, for example.
Is that the issue? Does the palace need more gold? Does it need more gilding and marble and bigger chandeliers? Maybe! Maybe he doesn’t want a Southern White House to escape to; he wants a Northern Mar-a-lago to live in. It’s difficult to say, but it’s no secret that the president’s compliments tend to have little to do with the actual merits of whatever he’s talking about and everything to do with how well the thing is working for him, like the phones mentioned above or Jeff Sessions. “‘Is this not the most beautiful asphalt you’ve ever seen in your life?’ he’ll say of an ordinary cart path,” according to Shipnuck. Those are his cart paths on his property. Of course he calls them beautiful. The White House just fundamentally cannot carry his gilded name as he is so accustomed to—at least not under our admittedly tenuous political norms. So it’s a “dump.” (Allegedly.) Better to spend his time at a place that literally bears his name, among people who paid to be there.