As the famed Notre Dame cathedral in Paris burned, President Donald Trump, watching the news of the fire live on Fox News aboard Air Force One, took to Twitter to offer some advice.
“So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris,” the President tweeted. “Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!” After landing, Trump added: “When we left the plane it was burning at a level that you rarely see a fire burn.”
Which is, well, kind of weird. Presumably, Trump was talking about the planes that drop water and fire-stopping chemicals on wildfires in the US when he referred to “flying water tankers.” And presumably, the French police and government had thought of that idea prior to Trump tweeting it.
What we know for sure is that Donald Trump isn’t a) a trained firefighter b) an emergency responder c) an architect or d) an engineer.
The French Civil Security agency responded to Trump’s suggestion, saying that dropping water from the air onto the building could collapse the entire structure.
“The weight of the water and the intensity of the drop at low altitude could indeed weaken the structure of Notre-Dame and result in collateral damage to the buildings in the vicinity,” tweeted the agency, which is part of the French Ministry of Interior.
In similar situations, past presidents would typically release a statement expressing their shock and sadness about the damage to such an iconic structure and offering to help the French authorities in any possible way as they grapple with the aftermath of the fire.
Which is exactly what first lady Melania Trump, who was traveling to Ft. Bragg Monday, did. “My heart breaks for the people of Paris after seeing the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral,” she tweeted. “Praying for everyone’s safety.” And what Vice President Mike Pence did: “Notre Dame is an iconic symbol of faith to people all over the world – and it is heartbreaking to see a house of God in flames. Our thoughts and prayers are with the firefighters on the scene and all the people of Paris.”
Neither the first lady nor the vice president nor any other politician I could find on Twitter suggested, a la Trump, the best way for the Parisians to put out the raging inferno. Because they are politicians. Not firefighters.
That Trump offered his own two cents on the best way to put out the fire as opposed to simply expressing condolences is a reflection of his belief that a) everyone wants his opinion at all times and b) his is an expert opinion, no matter what the subject matter.
Earlier on Monday, we had another shining example of Trump’s everyone-is-entitled-to-my-opinion approach to life. Seemingly out of nowhere, Trump tweeted this:
“What do I know about branding, maybe nothing (but I did become President!), but if I were Boeing, I would FIX the Boeing 737 MAX, add some additional great features, & REBRAND the plane with a new name.
“No product has suffered like this one. But again, what the hell do I know?”
He’s referring, of course, to the grounded fleet of 737s following two crashes linked to the stabilization system in the new-model planes. Boeing – and the Federal Aviation Administration – are in the midst of an investigation into what went wrong and how to fix what appears to be a software problem on the new planes. Trump is, again, not a) a pilot b) a plane mechanic c) an aviation or aerospace industry executive. (He did have his own private plane prior to being elected President, though, and even owned a short-lived airline he called Trump Shuttle.)
None of that matters to Trump. What matters is that he’s the President of the United States. And someone who had made a lot of money on branding. So why not share his opinion on what Boeing should be doing to rebrand itself after they figure out what went wrong to bring two brand-new planes down in crashes that killed everyone aboard?
We’ve all met people like this in our lives. People who think they have all the answers, on every subject, at all times – and want to make sure they share them with you. In this case, the person just happens to be the President of the United States.