During a tense meeting in the situation room on July 19, President Donald Trump criticized the Afghanistan war plan that his top advisers had formulated, likening their efforts to a renovation at Manhattan’s ‘21’ Club in the 1980s. As you may recall, this is the clubby restaurant where Trump likes to feast on well-done beef while downing virgin bloody marys.
According to NBC News, Trump’s thoughts on the military plan were influenced by a meeting he had with some veterans of the war in Afghanistan earlier this year. During the mid-July meeting, Trump reportedly told his advisers that their policy review process was like the renovations at ‘21’ Club in the ’80s wherein the restaurant hired a fancy consultant who closed the restaurant for a year but only ended up changing the kitchen a little bit. The president allegedly argued that the waiters — who had experience on the ground, like the veterans — could have offered better advice. (As NBC notes, the restaurant actually only closed for two months for a complete renovation, which is a bit of a different story than the one Trump reportedly referenced in the meeting.)
An unnamed senior administration official remarked: “The clear message if you heard the story was: high-priced consultants or high-priced anybody, expensive supposedly-big-brained people, but who are physically far from the source of the problem, often give you much worse advice than the supposedly low-ranking guys who are right there.”
The ‘21’ Club holds a special place in Trump’s heart and mind: The tycoon-turned-POTUS and his family have a favorite table in the middle of the dining room — Gerald Ford’s old perch — which they sat at during an impromptu celebratory meal the week after the 2016 election.