After returning from a presidential cabinet meeting at Camp David, Donald Trump briefly spoke to reporters on the White House south lawn yesterday afternoon, and talked about the federal response to Hurricane Irma. What stood out as notable, however, was the one group of people the president singled out for praise:
"I'll tell you what, we have great people, and a group that really deserves tremendous credit is the United States Coast Guard. What they've done, I mean, they're going right into that, and you never know. When you go in there, you don't know if you're going to come out. They are really -- if you talk about branding, no brand has improved more than the United States Coast Guard."
To be sure, I'm glad to see Trump sing the Coast Guard's praises; those men and women have clearly earned the support. But who exactly was talking about "branding"?
One almost gets the impression that the president personally had no idea what the Coast Guard does or how impressive it is. When he says the Coast Guard's "brand has improved," what I think Trump is effectively saying is he's just now starting to appreciate what guardsmen and women do.
Better late than never?
Let's not forget that in March, the Washington Post reported that the White House, eager to find money for the president's proposed border wall, was considering "significant cuts" to the Coast Guard's budget. At the time, CNBC's John Harwood spoke to a U.S. security official who described the possibility as "insane."
Almost immediately, Congress made clear it would never approve those Coast Guard cuts, but the New York Times reported in July that the Coast Guard's budget troubles continue.
One wonders if its improved "brand" might help make a difference.