So I recently came across a video, a publicity stunt by Donald Trump in his role as President of the United States of America. He allowed press cameras access to record a meeting that he chaired on the subject of the DACA immigration policy (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). In this meeting were attendees from both the Senate and the House of Representatives, including members of both the Democratic and the Republican party.
Putting the subject of discussion aside, the event reminded me of a similar publicity stunt pulled off by David Cameron in 2015. He allowed press cameras into a cabinet meeting, with headlines declaring “Inside Downing Street Cabinet Meeting”, British politicos were tantalised by the prospect of witnessing an actual discussion taking place within the United Kingdom government’s Cabinet.
What struck me most about Cameron’s “meeting” was that it was really nothing more than a publicity stunt. He took advantage of the press’s curiosity to give a speech that was directed more at the public than to the cabinet. Nobody else said anything. There was no evidence of David Cameron chairing any discussion. Not even the speech contained anything of substance – it contained nothing but airy-fairy platitudes full of good intent but nothing to do with how they are going to be achieved, or what actions the government can/should/could take. And at the end of his pathetically short speech, he got rid of the cameras, presumably so that they could get actually “get on with business”. We never got to witness an actual cabinet discussion. They might have been drinking champagne for the next hour after the cameras left, for all we know.
In comparison, Trump was brief and business-like with his introductory speech: he thanked everyone and introduced the subject of discussion within 30 seconds. He explained what the three goals of the discussion was, and opened the discussion by highlighting some of the known issues. The discussion kicks off at 6 minutes, starting with a Democrat Senator. Discussion then proceeds to go back and forth between different attendees, from Democrat to Republican and back again. Trump is both in control of the meeting as well as actively participating in the discussion.
This should not have surprised me. After all, Trump was an accomplished businessman long before he became a start of an over-dramatised reality television programme.
In comparison to Trump, Cameron’s attempts at publicity just showed that he was all about publicity rather than substance. I had always thought that Cameron was shallow, but to have so much less substance than Trump, was certainly eye-opening.
Granted, the entire hour might have been carefully scripted and set up for show. There’s no doubt that the speeches were carefully thought through and probably even scripted beforehand by every participant, but the fact is: members from opposing sides of the political debate participated in the discussion. There was none of the mud-flinging that we see in public politics, even in the shameful publicised debates in Westminster, which more resembles monkeys battling it out than it does civilised debate.
I did not like Trump, and I still do not like Trump. But it does look like he is doing a decent job in his position of office so far. What do you think? Watch the two videos below and let me know your thoughts.
David Cameron chairs meeting (2 mins):
Donald Trump chairs meeting (54 mins):