Donald Trump and his cabinet returned from Camp David this weekend, where they were briefed on Hurricane Irma as it made landfall in Florida. Trump praised the Coast Guard, reportedly saying that the two recent superstorms were improving the Coast Guard as a “brand.” Yes folks, as a “brand.” Our commander-in-chief seems to have no idea how important the work of the US Coast Guard is — as the Coast Guard was not previously front in center on Trump’s radar, it needed “improvement.”
Let’s briefly deconstruct this. The US Coast Guard is not a brand – it is a branch of the United States Armed Forces. Have branches of the US Armed Forces participated in branding in the past to increase recruitment numbers? Yes. Do branches of the US Armed Forces exist as brands? No.
Donald Trump is (was?) a real estate developer and a reality television star. Our 45th President is wired to think in terms of business and branding. Branding was his entire life before becoming POTUS; branding is arguably his entire life still.
Are President Trump’s comments ignorant and disrespectful? Yes. Does he do a massive disservice to all of our men and women serving in the US Coast Guard who put their lives at risk every day for the sake of safety and national security? Yes.
Are we surprised? Sadly, we shouldn’t be at this point. We’re all living Donald Trump’s television program.