I'm sure you heard it everywhere in the last week. On TV. On the radio. In line at the supermarket. From your family. "Do not stare into the sun" seems to be the one rule of solar eclipses. And yet, as has come to be customary of President Trump, he threw logic and fair warning out the window on Monday, and from the balcony of the White House, Trump stared up directly into the solar eclipse.
The image of Trump leaning out over the balcony railing, squinting upwards as his corneas were likely at least a little fried, is being touted on Twitter as the perfect analogy for his presidency thus far. Anything that is expected of a president — or most rational humans, for that matter — he does the opposite. He has made it a habit of not heeding the advice of experts in science, in military endeavors, and in politics in general.
From his statements last week regarding the violence in Charlottesville to his statement the week before regarding bringing "fire and fury" to North Korea, he frequently defies conventional wisdom. He doesn't seem to think his actions through, and that's the same shortsightedness that would lead someone to look directly at the sun during an eclipse after weeks of warnings.
Twitter couldn't get enough of the photo of sunglass-less Trump, and people were quick to see the parallels between this and the last six months of his presidency. Some figured he just thought the warnings were "fake news," one of his favorite labels for media he finds unfavorable. Others suggested that it was an example of his continued skepticism toward scientists and their fields, like how on Sunday the administration disbanded a federal climate change advisory committee. Or how the White House's initial budget proposal slashed funding to the Environmental Protection Agency. Or how after more than six months, Trump has still not appointed a head for NASA.
Others teased that his daughter Ivanka had urged him to wear glasses, but that he had decided not to, to her disappointment, hearkening back to the Paris Climate Accord fiasco in June. The younger Trump was reportedly pushing her father to stay in the agreement, like 195 other countries. But Trump chose to pull the U.S. out of the agreement, an extremely unpopular decision worldwide.
It was another instance of Trump ignoring the opinions of experts in a field, much like how before his inauguration, he said that he didn't think he needed to attend daily intelligence briefings, an unwavering presidential duty for decades.
While the photo surely sparked a laugh by most who saw it, the symbolism behind it is far more depressing.