What's the message? Trump's theme week fumbles

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Story highlights

  • The idea was to draw attention to broad economic issues like jobs and infrastructure
  • But the effort has been largely overshadowed by the President and his Twitter account

(CNN)The White House has a new communications director in Anthony Scaramucci, but the man who drives the administration's messaging has always worked from the Oval Office.

President Donald Trump has undermined all manner of Washington norms during his six months on the job. Often it's by design. He was elected on a promise to upend (and upset) the ruling class. But the strategy has its setbacks. Presidential tweetstorms have a way of washing out even the most carefully choreographed policy campaigns.
When the White House communications shop began unveiling theme weeks in the spring, the idea was to draw attention to broad economic issues like jobs and infrastructure. And, perhaps just as importantly, they would draw attention away from the Russia probes that have consumed Trump and so many news cycles.
    But these familiar ploys -- which look more and more like anachronisms in the social media era -- have wilted in the shadow of the President and his Twitter account.

    American Heroes Week

    On Wednesday morning, the President turned "American Heroes Week" (happening now) into a punchline with a series of unusually official-sounding tweets asking that Americans "please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow ... Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military."
    The decision to ban transgender Americans from serving in the armed forces -- between 1,320 and 6,630 already do, according to a recent study -- caught congressional defense committees by surprise. That it came during a week the White House said was dedicated to "celebrating and honoring our brave military service members and veterans, law enforcement officers, first responders, and workers" only amplified the controversy.
    As it stands, here are this week's dominant headlines -- from before Wednesday morning's bombshell.

    Made in America Week

    How the White House summed it up: "The President dedicated this week to highlighting and engaging businesses across the country, expanding partnerships and products made within our borders. 'Made in America Week' demonstrated President Trump's commitment to better the shared American experience, and to unite a common pride in our country."
    And here are the headlines that actually defined the week:

    Energy Week

    On June 27, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry previewed the week to come: "The Trump administration will bring together state, tribal, business, labor -- all together, one room -- happily sitting down and discussing how we're going to go forward, what the path forward is for US energy dominance."
    This also happened (before and after Perry's remarks):

    Technology Week

    The White House blog's recap begins: "This week was Technology Week at the White House, and the Trump Administration held events focusing on modernizing government technology and stimulating the technology sector."
    Here's what else you might remember:
    The Senate GOP plan to gut Obamacare, written in secret, gets its debut. A couple days later, Nevada Sen. Dean Heller takes a stand -- temporarily, at least -- against it, calling any suggestion the bill would lower premiums a "lie": Senate GOP finally unveils secret health care bill; currently lacks votes to pass ... Heller won't back Senate GOP health care bill
    More than a month after first suggesting in a tweet that he had secret "tapes" of fired former FBI director James Comey, Trump reveals that, nope, he never did: Trump: I did not make recordings of Comey ... Trump ends his self-made crisis where it started: Twitter
    The President puts pen to paper on a bipartisan measure empowering the Department of Veterans Affairs more leeway to dismiss employees for misconduct while offering new protections for whistleblowers: Trump signs VA reform bill, making good on a campaign promise

    Workforce Development Week

    Another round of scrappy political drama came to a grinding halt on the morning of June 14, when a gunman opened fire on the Republican congressional baseball team as it practiced in Alexandria, Virginia. Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, the House majority whip, was shot and nearly died. One staffer, a lobbyist, and two Capitol Police officers were also wounded.
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    The alleged shooter, identified as James Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois, was killed on the scene following a shootout with authorities. Trump visited the hospital that night and, 24 hours later, there was bipartisan baseball at Nationals Stadium in Washington.
    Two days before the shooting, the White House welcomed what was supposed to be "Workforce Development Week" with a brief statement touting the involvement of "Secretaries Alexander Acosta and Betsy DeVos, along with the President's daughter Ivanka Trump and Reed Cordish with the Office of American Innovation," and a push to expand apprenticeships.
    But the plan was quickly overtaken by a pair of Russia-related developments:

    Infrastructure Week

    By the time Trump cut the tape on Infrastructure Week in early June, by announcing plans to privatize the nation's air traffic control control system and open up "a great new era in American aviation," the White House narrative had already been overwhelmed by the President's tweets: