Donald Trump cares a great deal about how things look. On Friday, for example, the White House forced reporters to sit closer together, despite the pandemic and the administration's own safety guidelines, because the president's team thought it would "look better."
Similarly, Trump wants to speak at his nominating convention in August in front of a large crowd that ignores safety precautions, because of his preoccupation with "a pre-coronavirus look and feel." The president also skipped a recent golf outing out of fear of "bad optics."
It's been a staple of Trump's style from the outset -- up to and including his willingness to make personnel decisions based on whether candidates fit his perceptions of "central casting."
But for a politician who focuses so heavily on appearances, many of his photo-ops have gone horribly awry.
Last month, for example, the president visited a mask factory, where he refused to wear a mask. ("Live and Let Die" played over the facility's loudspeaker to help punctuate the stranger-than-fiction moment.) Last week, Trump walked across a park that had been forcibly cleared of peaceful protestors, posed in front of a church, and briefly waved a Bible, creating a scandalous photo-op that ricocheted around the world.
And then four days later, the president arrived in Maine for another photo-op that the White House's advance team probably ought to regret. USA Today reported:
President Donald Trump traveled to Maine Friday to tour a facility that makes medical swabs used for coronavirus testing, but the swabs manufactured in the background during his visit will ultimately be thrown in the trash, the company said. Puritan Medical Products said it will have to discard the swabs, a company spokeswoman told USA TODAY in response to questions about the visit.
While Trump's visit was underway, the images suggested something was amiss: the facility appeared to take care to create a sterile environment, which the president was indifferent toward. He did not wear a mask, and one point, Trump picked up a swab -- he wasn't wearing gloves, either -- and held it up to his nose.
Given the circumstances, the fact that the facility is throwing away the swabs isn't too surprising.
The trouble, of course, is that these swabs are important: extensive coronavirus testing requires extensive access to swabs, and as USA Today's article added, there's a "national shortage" of the supplies.
Trump couldn't have smiled for the cameras outside the factory floor?