Just after the entire President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities jumped ship, Donald Trump has announced that he and Melania will break from presidential tradition and skip this year’s Kennedy Center Honors which recognizes accomplishments of artists. Everyone is thrilled.
For the record, the New York Times notes that Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter skipped due to political crises or summits. In this case, four months ahead of the event, the Trumps have made the decision to skip out of consideration for the honorees, which include Norman Lear, LL Cool J, Lionel Richie, Gloria Estefan, and Carmen de Lavallade. From the White House statement:
The president and first lady have decided not to participate in this year’s activities to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction. First lady Melania Trump, along with her husband President Donald J. Trump, extend their sincerest congratulations and well wishes to all of this year’s award recipients for their many accomplishments.
In return, the Kennedy Center has extended its gratitude for such thoughtfulness. Write Chairman David M. Rubenstein and President Deborah F. Rutter:
In choosing not to participate in this year’s Honors activities, the Administration has graciously signaled its respect for the Kennedy Center and ensures the Honors gala remains a deservingly special moment for the Honorees. We are grateful for this gesture.
The road throughout this presidency has been paved with such well-wishes, such as in the following events which President Trump has chosen not to overshadow, often breaking with decades-long tradition:
- The 72nd Hiroshima remembrance event (he was at his Bedminster golf club)
- The “Pittsburg, not Paris rally” across from the White House in support of his decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement (again at a Trump golf club)
- The White House Correspondents’ dinner (at a rally at Harrisburg)
- Part of the G-20 Summit (Ivanka sat in)
- Saudi Arabia Youth Forum (Ivanka stepped in with the caveat that Trump was exhausted and was set to negotiate a peace process with Israeli leaders over Palestine the following day)
- Annual White House dinner celebrating the Muslim holiday of Ramadan
- Annual White House Cinco de Mayo celebration
- Annual NAACP convention
It goes without saying that it’s been a rough week. The mother of the woman who was killed in the Charlottesville terrorist attack wouldn’t take Trump’s call. Steve Bannon left in a “joint decision.” Even David Duke gave him a thrashing. Artists Norman Lear, Carmen de Lavallade, and Lionel Richie (Richie, tentatively) have stated that they wouldn’t have shown up to the White House reception anyway, so, the decision is...presidential.