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Trump caters fast food for Clemson Tigers

President Trump said he is personally paying for the meals provided to Clemson for their White House visit due to the government shutdown. Trump told reporters that he is serving "McDonalds, Wendy's and Burger King with some pizza."

Posted: Jan 15, 2019 9:40 PM
Updated: Jan 15, 2019 10:00 PM

On Monday night, President Donald Trump hosted the Clemson University football team at the White House to celebrate the team's victory in the national college playoffs. Because of the government shutdown, Trump decided to pay, out of pocket, for a boatload worth of fast food to feed the players. And just before the team arrived, this photo was taken.

Asked about the spread, Trump had, well, a lot to say.

"I like it all. I like it all," he began. "It's all good stuff, great American food. And it's going to be very interesting to see at the end of this evening how many are left. Pressed on whether he preferred McDonalds or Wendy's, Trump expounded -- at length:

"If it's American, I like it. It's all American stuff. ... But it's good stuff and we have the national champion team, as you know, Clemson Tigers. And they had a fantastic game against Alabama and they're all here. They're right outside the room and I think we're going to let you see them. But I'll bet you, as much food as we have — we have pizzas, we have 300 hamburgers, many, many french fries, all of our favorite foods. I want to see what's here when we leave, because I don't think it's going to be much. The reason we did this is because of the shutdown. We want to make sure that everything is right, so we sent out, we got this. And we have some wonderful people working in the White House. They helped us out with this."

Twitter went wild. And yes, the photo is amazing. (Please note there is a massive stack of Filet-O-Fish sandwiches. No one eats those. NO ONE.)

Trump tweeted about the spread Tuesday, saying, "Great being with the National Champion Clemson Tigers last night at the White House. Because of the Shutdown I served them massive amounts of Fast Food (I paid), over 1000 hamburgers etc. Within one hour, it was all gone. Great guys and big eaters!"

But there's also something interesting -- and telling -- in the photo. It is, in a word, Trumpian.

I've written before about the oddity of Trump's appeal to the average Joe -- a very wealthy man who has lived in New York City his entire life and whose taste trends toward gold (or at least gold-plated). It seems like a very, very weird fit. Most people don't live and work in a building they own. Or have silk draperies. And wine with their name on it. And, yes, steaks with their name on them.

Part of the answer lies in fast food. Trump loves it. Revels in his love for it. And uses it -- as he did Monday night -- as some sort of stand-in for patriotism or America First-ism or, well, something.

This, from a 2016 New York Times profile on Trump's eating habits -- and how they differed from past presidents -- is instructive on that point:

"In an era of gourmet dining and obsession with healthy ingredients, Mr. Trump is a throwback to an earlier, more carefree time in American eating, when nobody bothered to ask whether the tomatoes were locally grown, and the first lady certainly didn't have a vegetable garden, complete with a bee hive, on the South Lawn of the White House."

And then there's this from a February 2016 CNN town hall:

Anderson Cooper: "I understand that you're a big fast food guy as well, that you actually bring fast food to your plane sometimes. When you roll up at McDonald's, what does Donald Trump order?"

Donald Trump: "The Fish Delight sometimes. [laughter from audience] The Big Macs are great, the Quarter Pounders with cheese."

Fish Delight! (I mean, maybe that explains the overwhelming amount of Filet-O-Fish sandwiches on the table Monday night.)

Trump is best understood as a weird amalgam of high and low American culture. He's rich but says he identifies more with blue-collar workers. He's President of the United States, thanks in large part due to his star turn on a reality TV show where he essentially played himself. And he's a guy who could eat at only Michelin-starred restaurants but, instead, likes fast food better.

Which brings me back to the picture. At first glance, it seems incongruous -- to say the least. Stacks of Quarter Pounders and chicken nuggets flanked by two gold-plated candelabra. Trump, in a formal black winter coat, holding his hands gleefully over the food while Abraham Lincoln's portrait looks on from above.

And it is incongruous. High and low culture smashed together will-nilly, with no seeming sense of how odd it all looks and how different it is from what's come before it. Exactly like Donald Trump.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 320174

Reported Deaths: 7390
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22294271
Hinds20755424
Harrison18450317
Rankin13923282
Jackson13733249
Madison10273225
Lee10063176
Jones8473167
Forrest7837153
Lauderdale7263242
Lowndes6523150
Lamar636288
Lafayette6314121
Washington5427138
Bolivar4841133
Panola4671110
Oktibbeha466398
Pearl River4606148
Marshall4574105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425973
Monroe4162136
Union415877
Neshoba4065180
Lincoln4009113
Hancock387687
Leflore3516125
Tate342586
Sunflower339491
Pike3373111
Alcorn327474
Scott320374
Yazoo314571
Adams308486
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma299084
Simpson298689
Tippah292268
Prentiss284261
Leake272374
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264842
Grenada264087
George252451
Newton249064
Tishomingo232369
Winston230282
Jasper222148
Attala215173
Chickasaw210659
Holmes190574
Stone188733
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174232
Yalobusha167940
Smith164134
Walthall135447
Greene131834
Lawrence131224
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127538
Amite126342
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108334
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96729
Franklin85023
Quitman82316
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66328
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 549013

Reported Deaths: 11311
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810461571
Mobile42145831
Madison35718525
Tuscaloosa26179458
Shelby25626254
Montgomery25089614
Baldwin21901314
Lee16287176
Calhoun14724327
Morgan14639285
Etowah14183364
Marshall12454230
Houston10791287
Elmore10301214
Limestone10188157
St. Clair10161251
Cullman9958201
Lauderdale9612250
DeKalb8977190
Talladega8462184
Walker7341280
Autauga7242113
Jackson6953113
Blount6950139
Colbert6415140
Coffee5638127
Dale4930116
Russell454941
Chilton4478116
Franklin431782
Covington4279122
Tallapoosa4144155
Escambia401880
Chambers3728124
Dallas3610158
Clarke353161
Marion3245107
Pike314578
Lawrence3134100
Winston283572
Bibb268564
Geneva258481
Marengo250665
Pickens237062
Barbour234559
Hale227178
Butler224671
Fayette218962
Henry194443
Randolph187644
Cherokee187345
Monroe180641
Washington170739
Macon163051
Clay160159
Crenshaw156357
Cleburne153644
Lamar146937
Lowndes142254
Wilcox126930
Bullock124542
Conecuh113630
Coosa111629
Perry108626
Sumter105832
Greene93634
Choctaw62125
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