Our Hardest Working President

On Sunday, April 26, Donald Trump once again described himself as “the hardest working President in history.” And he claims his supporters know it to be true.

This makes me question the history education of those who support Trump. Because, up until March…

  • He’d spent 20% of his tenure as president playing golf.
  • He watched hours of TV – mostly Fox News – every day.
  • He often had only two or three specific appointments. With many hours blocked off for “executive time.”

How Hard Does This President Work?

I chose a recent day at random – January 28, 2020 – to compare. This seemed fair, because it’s both recent and before the coronavirus panic. Here’s a screenshot of President Trump’s day…

Look at all those items! President Trump clearly had a busy day. He had so much going on, it couldn’t fit on one screen!

Until you look a bit more closely…

During the normal workday, Trump spent a half-hour with Israel’s Prime Minister and took his daily intelligence briefing.

An example of Trump's daily schedule.
Trump’s schedule, January 28, 2020.

Almost everything else on this page tracks his travels – to and from a 1.5-hour political rally in NJ.

Almost everything on this schedule is related to air travel for a political rally.

The day before, more than a dozen countries reported the spread of Covid-19. And the University of Hong Kong warned of up to 100,000 new infections per day, worldwide.

So, our “hardest working president” spent a couple of hours working, a couple of hours at a political rally, and pretty much a full workday traveling from D.C. to NJ and back for that rally.

That’s the standard to be the “hardest-working” president. Maybe a half-day of actual work. Now let’s compare that to the man Trump constantly blames for leaving him a “mess.”

Same Day, Different Chief Executive

Four years earlier, President Obama was in the same position as Trump. Just a few months from an election. Maybe not his own, but a key election to show how effective he’d been as president.

His calendar for January 28, 2016 starts a little behind Trump’s: 10:00 AM.

Wow! Look at how few items are on Presidet Obama’s schedule! Maybe Trump is right. Maybe he works a harder than other presidents.

Or maybe not.

An example of President Obama's daily schedule.
Obama’s schedule, January 28, 2016.

Most of the items on Trump’s schedule were travel. Obama’s were mostly work.

Yes, in the evening, he spoke to the House Democratic Issues Conference. But that’s not a campaign rally, even if it is partisan.

And, during the day, he didn’t just deal with a briefing and one dignitary. He welcomed new ambassadors from key U.S. allies – including the U.K., New Zealand, Australia, Portugal, Austria, Saudi Arabia, and more.

Three of Obama’s events are “open press.” In other words, he didn’t restrict media access the way Trump’s administration does almost constantly.

He even closed the day with a press gathering.

Obama had fewer items on his schedule, but a lot more work was getting done.

Disclosure: While President Obama’s schedule came from the official White House website, Trump’s did not. A search of the site came up empty on an official schedule. (As did a broader Google search.)

Generating B.S. Is Hard Work

Donald Trump spends more time talking about his imagined accomplishments then actually doing anything. He blocked most travel to the U.S. from China in January… then coasted on that one “accomplishment” for the better part of two months.

But he’s spent a lot of time talking about it.

He invoked the Defense Production Act, but failed to apply it for weeks.

Meanwhile, he sure talked up the reference. Before finally using it very selectively. Applying it mostly to companies that were already cooperating.

Trump spewed reams of B.S. about hydroxychloroquine. Then invented some shaky “proof.” That’s hard work. And it can’t have been easy inventing the sarcasm excuse for suggesting we inject disinfectants into our bodies. Let alone coming up with the insane suggestion in the first place.

So, yeah, Trump is a hard-working president. But only in the sense that manufacturing outrageous B.S. is hard work.

If you look at his day-to-day performance, Trump is a sluggard.



The White House Blog. Whitehouse(dot)gov.