The government shutdown is now hitting Donald Trump close to home, literally: only a quarter of the regular White House staff are showing up for work each day, leaving the staid symbol of the American presidency a mostly-empty shell of its former self, with even basic things like taking out the trash being low on the list of priorities.
As Yahoo News reports, it takes a staff of 80 to keep the day-to-day operations running at the White House, and that’s just the building itself and its grounds, not the president’s own staff and its attendant guards, drivers, and so on. Thanks to the government shutdown, only 21 of those employees are coming to work each day — those 21 being the most essential people on the White House payroll.
That means that the Trump family is left with a butler and a chef. Trash is getting emptied, beds are getting made, and meals — for the family — are being prepared. And that’s it.
The White House Florist is furloughed, which means no beautiful floral arrangements decorating the Oval Office or other rooms of the Executive Mansion. The usual host of visitors to the two-centuries-old mansion are nowhere to be seen, with no guides to show them around and no staff to take care of them. The meals that guests of honor would be served, if there were guests of honor, would not be prepared because there’s no one to cook them.
Trump himself learned first-hand just how bad the food distribution situation is at the White House when he hosted the college football champion Clemson Tigers. He joked that Melania would have to make salad for all of the men. Instead, some phone calls were made and a few dozen fast-food burgers showed up.
In the absence of the White House’s regular catering staff, when a small group of Republican House members recently met with Trump for lunch, they were fed by Navy mess cooks.
By some measures, the empty White House is contributing to a sense of isolation the president feels. On Christmas Eve, Trump tweeted about his issues coming to an agreement with Democrats about border security, and he referenced being lonely.
“I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security.”
The shutdown has even affected First Lady Melania Trump; only 11 essential staff members are making it to work each day.
Meanwhile, all social events at the White House are canceled or postponed until further notice.