Toilets turn out to be telling about what drives the Trump presidency—and not in a bathroom humor kind of way. The problems this administration is committed to solving are those of the 1980s.
Last week, in a meeting about business regulations, the president of the United States concerned himself with how many times Americans flush a toilet. “People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times as opposed to once,” according to a transcript of the conversation. “They end up using more water.”
That complaint should sound familiar to anyone old enough to remember the introduction of low-flow toilets after passage of the National Energy Policy Act in 1994.
Older toilets used as much as six gallons per flush. Federal regulations imposed a limit of 1.6 gallons, but the earliest low-flow toilets often were less than satisfactory. People often did have to flush more than once.
Current plumbing technology has solved that inefficiency. The same product advancements are true for vehicle emission standards, clean-water requirements and all the other environment-saving measures that the current administration is working so hard to dismantle.
Science and business have moved forward but the president hasn’t because he still lives in the 1980s when New York City was a crime-infested urban jungle, greed was good and masters of the universe ruled Wall Street. Those were the good old days, or the present if you live in the president’s head.
Pundits wonder whether the justifications that Trump employs are lies or delusions, because they don’t reflect the world circa 2019. Suppose, instead, that he is simply speaking about his world.
His world is not diverse or global. Mercedes Benz’s largest plant is not in Tennessee. China is not the largest consumer of Midwestern soybeans and low-flow toilets don’t work.
In the ’80s, Trump was in his 30s, a brash wunderkind building an improbable fortune along with an immodest brand.
The Trump administration is the political version of that ’80s show. The Trump family and those with whom he has surrounded himself are enriching themselves in a mind-boggling array of corrupt self-dealing, conflicts of interest and simple lavish spending of public funds. Greed, after all, is good again.
Unfortunately for him, Trump didn’t become president until 2016. The rest of us would do well to recognize that mismatch between Trump’s world and the one we live in.