Six weeks ago, Donald Trump published a tweet that appeared to include a policy pronouncement. After complaining about California's approach to forest management -- an issue he only pretends to understand -- the president wrote that he'd ordered FEMA to send the Golden State "no more money."
So, did he actually order FEMA to cut off California? Of course not. BuzzFeed reported overnight:
Although President Donald Trump tweeted that he had ordered his administration to cut off disaster aid to wildfire victims in California, federal officials confirmed on Wednesday that they never received any such directive.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which helps survivors of national disasters recover, told BuzzFeed News for the first time that Trump never issued an order to stop sending money to California.
BuzzFeed filed requests with FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security, both of which concluded that the agencies had received no such orders from the White House.
At face value, this may seem fairly minor. There was no reason to believe the nation's largest state had been cut off from federal emergency aid, so these findings are in line with expectations. Indeed, I imagine many observers had forgotten about the presidential tweet soon after it was published. I certainly did.
But what strikes me as notable about this is the degree to which it reinforces a larger point: Trump often just says stuff, issuing declarations that no one takes seriously because we know they're wholly insincere.
It happens all the time, to the point that's become the background noise of our political discourse. Late last week, for example, the president boasted, "We have a lot of great announcements having to do with Syria and our success with the eradication of the caliphate. And that will be announced over the next 24 hours."
That was 140 hours ago. There's been no announcement. No one's surprised.
Trump is now seen as an unreliable narrator of his own presidency. Whatever the Republican says about his plans and priorities must automatically, in every instance, be taken with a grain of salt.