Dana Milbank: Please help Donald Trump find work during the shutdown

President Donald Trump holds a photo as he leads a roundtable discussion on border security with local leaders, Friday Jan. 11, 2019, in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Washington • President Trump needs a job.

The government is shuttered, and the president has nothing to do. “I am in the White House waiting for you!” he tweeted plaintively to Democrats on Saturday.

“I’m in the White House, waiting,” the underemployed executive tweeted again on Sunday.

“I’ve been waiting all weekend,” he tweeted on Monday.

“I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats,” he tweeted during the holidays.

Yes, poor him. He shut down the government, taking hostage 800,000 furloughed federal workers, but nobody is willing to pay him ransom. Now, the economy is hurting (S&P Global Ratings put the damage at $3.6 billion so far, nearly the amount Trump sought for his border wall), and most Americans correctly blame him (he is, after all, the one who boasted: “I’ll be the one to shut it down”).

Trump’s allies are trying to clean up his mess: Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, R-S.C., who had said surrendering on the shutdown would be “the end of his presidency,” now urges Trump to reopen the government; others propose building the wall with assets seized in litigation (Paul Manafort will pay for the wall!).

And Trump? He watches TV and tweets insults at Jeff “Bozo” Bezos, the Amazon founder and chief executive who also owns The Washington Post, and Sen. Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren. With so little to occupy him, it’s as though he is on furlough himself. He’s certainly nonessential.

If only there were something productive Trump could do with his idle time — something like what the Trump administration suggests government workers do while they aren’t getting paid.

As the Post reported, the Coast Guard published helpful suggestions about activities furloughed workers can do to make ends meet while waiting to return to work: “have a garage sale,” “offer to watch children, walk pets or house-sit,” “turn your hobby into income,” discover “untapped teaching skills and expertise” or “become a mystery shopper.”

Trump is already housesitting, it’s doubtful many people would trust him with their children or pets, and he’s a bit too recognizable to pull off the mystery-shopper routine. He tried using his “untapped teaching skills” before, and we got Trump University.

But “turn your hobby into income”? This has potential. If Trump were to set up an insult service — for a fee, he would fire off tweets attacking your boss, your competitor or your ex-spouse — he would not only occupy himself during the shutdown but also earn enough money to pay for walls along the Mexican and Canadian borders.

There are other ways in which our idle president could put his untapped skills to work during the shutdown. Using O*NET Online, a website sponsored by the Labor Department to assist job seekers, I found several potential furlough jobs for Trump fitting his work values and skills.

I searched the database looking for jobs that appeal to those who “seek recognition” and have “potential for leadership,” positions that, according to O*NET, satisfy needs for “authority” and “social status” — all Trumpian requirements. I also looked for jobs that reward “persuading others to change their minds” (Trump, recall, got Republicans to abandon free trade and embrace Russian President Vladimir Putin).

Conversely, I sought jobs for Trump that place a low priority on “maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger and avoiding aggressive behavior.” Likewise, I de-emphasized jobs requiring skills Trump lacks: “the ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong,” “trying to reconcile differences,” “using logic,” “not interrupting at inappropriate times” and “taking time to understand” others.

Some of the resulting recommendations for Trump were obvious (product promoter, public-address announcer), and some less obvious (manicurist, shampooer, barista). His people skills, my search found, argue for work as a paper hanger, machine operator or possibly an animal slaughterer.

Interestingly, Trump would find satisfaction if not success doing his wife’s job (a model), but he also has potential as a street vendor or marriage counselor.

Curiously, a certain type of work came up more than once when I searched for a shutdown vocation for Trump. For people who, like Trump, score very low in two attributes — “job requires being sensitive to others’ needs and feelings” and “job requires being honest and ethical” — the database returned a common result: “fence erector.”

It’s an elegant solution. Instead of moping around the White House, talking about a border barrier, our furloughed president should go to the border and start erecting one. Build the wall, Mr. President — yourself.

Dana Milbank | The Washington Post

Dana Milbank is a Washington Post op-ed columnist. He sketches the foolish, the fallacious and the felonious in politics.