THE MAN WHO ISN'T THERE

It’s time to start ignoring the president of the United States

Obsession
"America First"
Obsession
"America First"

Another week, another crude Twitter outburst from the US president, another torrent of outrage from his detractors. But what if we just agreed to ignore the man?

At Quartz it’s already our policy not to write stories about how crazy the latest crazy thing he said is. But even the not-crazy things he says are increasingly irrelevant. The president has essentially ceded foreign policy to his generals and his son-in-law, and when he does speak on such issues as NATO or Qatar he only creates confusion. His staff manage him like a child. Foreign governments go around him (paywall). NATO has learned to look like it’s doing his bidding, increasing its budget just slightly faster than before. State and local governments set their own policies when they don’t like his. His promises to save factories from closing are turning out to be the kiss of death. His promises to build a wall with Mexico, punish China, or cancel Nafta… well, we don’t need to tell you.

A normal US president is like a creature in the middle of a lake, his every move creating far-reaching ripples. This one is like a rock in a stream; he creates turbulence and is to be avoided, but everything flows on around him.

OK, he has nuclear codes. You don’t ignore a man with nuclear codes. But you don’t have to lavish attention on him either. Actually, attention is what gets him riled up.

It’s time to stop being outraged. It isn’t even really outrage—it’s gloatrage, when you’re secretly thrilled that he’s proving himself to be just as bad as you thought. (Admit it.)

The president of the United States is an irrelevance. Pay close attention to those around him, but ignore the man himself. We can do it. We have the technology.

Look, we didn’t even say his name.

A version of this essay appeared in the weekend edition of the Quartz Daily Brief. Sign up here for our newsletters, tailored for morning delivery in Asia, Europe and Africa, or the Americas.

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