Certain habits are hard to break. Longtime convicts, once released, still hover over their food as if it’s about to be taken away. Veterans of war go into fight-or-flight at loud noises. And Donald Trump still makes promises to write checks without a thought of actually doing it.
We don’t have to rehash all the times over the last 40 years Trump has made promises, walked on to platforms at charity events to which he was not invited, and lavishly pledged millions of dollars, which he never gave. At best, he’d make a few phone calls and get someone else to donate the money. Or he’d raise it through his family foundation and simply pass the money through. (The Clintons used the same ruse.)
But now the press is on to that schtick. David Fahrenthold has a legal pad full of examples, which won him a Pulitzer Prize, and forced Trump to actually fulfill his cash promises. But old habits are hard to break.
In June, Trump called the Gold Star father of Sgt. Dillon Baldbridge, who was killed by an Afghan police officer. The father explained that he was broke and his son’s ex-wife would get the death benefit check. Trump glibly told the dad he’d write a check for $25,000. Great day for a thankful dad.
Then a card, but no check.
Enter the Washington Post. On Wednesday, they reported that Chris Baldridge never got the promised money, prompting a phone call to the White House–which declined to discuss the subject. Then by Wednesday afternoon, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said “the check has been sent,” followed by a sound thrashing of the media.
The check was in the mail, because WaPo called the White House. It’s that simple.
To be fair, President Obama had a similar problem in 2015–which took ABC News 18 months to discover and report, although the amount wasn’t disclosed. I bet ABC was working on a hagiography of Obama’s miracles of light and grace, and wanted to include that story, only to find that it never happened. Obama said it was an oversight.
And Trump’s failure was probably an oversight. I mean after the heat he took from WaPo on his charitable donations going back decades, you’d think the president would be more on his game to fulfill cash donation promises.
But like I said, certain habits are hard to break.