During the Obama years, one of the ways the White House presented itself to the public was through a dedicated in-house photographer named Pete Souza, who would post all manner of glamour shots of the administration’s doings to social media feeds. The actual White House news photographers weren’t big fans of the arrangement ― let’s face it, the administration’s aim was to cast itself in the best light ― but it left us with some iconic images. (Plus, it allowed MTV News’ Ana Marie Cox and me to make a lot of silly jokes about it over at The Awl.)
Souza, of course, is gone from the White House, and is now repurposing his work as a means to troll the current occupant of the Oval Office. With him has gone his relentless pursuit of a presidential era through the eye of a camera lens. Yes, the Trump administration has its own Flickr feed, and generates its own photo-opportunities. At some point, the Trump White House could find a similar photographic groove. But Souza’s self-consciously artful approach created an interesting prism through which to view a presidential era ― a sort of sidelong glance at that world that we’re now lacking.
Or so I thought. Recently, New York magazine’s Brian Feldman suggested that one could find this intriguing prism again, simply by looking at the Instagram geotag for President Donald Trump’s Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago. So I did, and discovered a pretty unique universe there, one that mirrors the oddness of our times. So join me now, in a journey into Trump’s gilded world.
Donald Trump's Mar a Lago estate Tag a friend who loves Trump! #mensluxurytoys
A post shared by ✨Mens Luxury Toys✨ (@mensluxurytoys) on Apr 18, 2017 at 4:29am PDT
Welcome to beautiful Mar-a-Lago, Marjorie Merriweather Post’s one-time Palm Beach haven, now rechristened the “Southern White House” by Trump. That’s a re-rechristening, actually: Trump first referred to it as the “Winter White House,” but he’s been going there a lot more often. The resort will soon close for the summer ― and it’s looking like it may be Bedminster, New Jersey’s, turn in the barrel for hosting Trump getaways.
It's a vibe….
A post shared by Jacob Sipala (@jacobsipala) on Apr 14, 2017 at 3:21pm PDT
So, my working theory of Mar-a-Lago is that it’s basically a weird, bubble universe like “Portlandia,” except it’s focused on 1980s anomie-and-bonhomie rather than post-1990s hipster wish-fulfillment schemes. (The odd thing is that Kyle MacLachlan is the mayor of both universes.)
#tbt Last Name: Ever, First Name: Greatest #winterwhitehouse #maralago #palmbeach #florida #33480
A post shared by Michael T. Bowden (@michaeltbowden) on Apr 13, 2017 at 8:37am PDT
Also, many of the partiers at Mar-a-Lago are reminiscent of Max Greenfield’s pre-housing crash mortgage broker character from “The Big Short,” but here in this Palm Beach hideaway, they are all somehow unscathed from the ravages of that world. Here, the only bubbles that have popped are in champagne flutes, and the only subprime commodity appears to be the food.
The architecture, sculpture, planning and craftsmanship that went into Mar-a-Lago in 1924 could not be duplicated today. The estate seamlessly blends together many Old World features of the Spanish, Venetian and Portuguese styles.
A post shared by The Trump Organization (@trump) on Feb 7, 2017 at 7:34am PST
The caption reads: “The architecture, sculpture, planning and craftsmanship that went into Mar-a-Lago in 1924 could not be duplicated today.” So, it’s not all bad news.
Dinner in Palm Beach
A post shared by Becca Schulman (@thestylishb) on Mar 11, 2017 at 4:45pm PST
One thing you can say about Mar-a-Lago is that it’s a good substitute for the “Infinity Mirrors” show that’s been all the rage at the Hirshorn Museum in Washington. (To be fair, Mar-a-Lago is also a lot easier to get into than the exhibit.)
#POTUS #president #palmbeach
A post shared by Ryan Gartner (@lilryan10788) on Mar 17, 2017 at 5:30pm PDT
Graydon Carter really nailed it with that “short-fingered vulgarian” remark, huh? (Kinda makes up for The Waverly Inn.)
The helo pad has been constructed and there is a Sikorsky on it this weekend.
A post shared by Steven Herman (@newsguyasia) on Apr 9, 2017 at 8:35am PDT
Remember when Mark Halperin was so excited to ride in Trump’s helicopter? It’s only a matter of time before he’s teaching sunrise Pilates at Trump’s resort.
Behind the hedges #justcalllmeXiJinping #palmbeach #southoceanblvd #maralago #trumpdisneyland #ootd
A post shared by Michael Gray (@michaelgrayhey) on Apr 9, 2017 at 2:02pm PDT
I recently read a tweet that attested to the existence of rompers being made for men. At first glance, that’s what I thought we were dealing with in the image above, but thankfully not. Nevertheless, if the rompers-for-men fad takes off, Mar-a-Lago will almost certainly be Ground Zero.
A post shared by Alex Hernandez (@alexhdz305) on Jan 29, 2017 at 11:44am PST
As you can see, Mar-a-Lago attendees can be pretty mixed on Trump. Still, what I’d point out is that you should have an innate distrust of any organization that hands out a “Six Star” award. Five stars is more than enough, man. Don’t be a try-hard, American Academy of Hospitality Sciences.
This is one of my most favorites pieces of arts in Mar-a-Lago (Winter White House ❄️). Does you be liking this paintings of my husband?! I did be showing it to Madame Pang (queen of China !) but she was not that impressed. Little ivanka used to being staring up at this painting when she was little girl, but she is not queen of America Great Again yet, she must be waiting her turns. -M #maralago #art #sexworkerrights #winterwhitehouse #trump #trumpart #america #model #beautiful #gaschamber #nazimemes #bombsyria #chemicalwarfare #letthemeatcake #flotus #firstlady #melania #melaniafashion #politics
A post shared by Melania Trump (@realmalaniatrump) on Apr 9, 2017 at 9:53am PDT
VANITY OF VANITIES…..ALL IS VANITY. The golden bowls of Mar-a-lago. What would Henry James have made of it all. #bathroom #lavatory #donaldtrump #maralago #goldenbowl #henryjames #floridalife #mansion #sink #mirror #vanitymirror #vanity
A post shared by Judith Olney (@juditholney.cookery) on Mar 12, 2017 at 2:44pm PDT
Mar-a-Lago’s sinks are from Kohler’s “A Bit Much If I’m Being Honest” line of designer bathroom fixtures.
Sharing the water with bigger boats today keeping everybody safe here in Palm Beach
A post shared by Taylor Austin Rachel (@jantztaylor) on Mar 19, 2017 at 5:57pm PDT
This will be a sight Mar-a-Lago goers will rarely see if Trump gets the $1 billion cuts to the Coast Guard budget that he wants.
@flotus @realdonaldtrump at the 60th Annual Red Cross Gala in Palm Beach (February 4, 2017) #melaniatrump #donaldtrump
A post shared by Melania Trump & Ivanka Trump (@melania_ivanka_trump) on Feb 5, 2017 at 3:07am PST
Melania, leaving him hanging.
Louie making new friends. #potus @realdonaldtrump #louielaurence
A post shared by Blair Brandt (@blairbrandt) on Apr 15, 2017 at 7:04am PDT
The baby’s face says it all: “Thank God I’m too young to read ‘Hillbilly Elegy.’”
A post shared by Sofia (@sofiabaratashvili) on Mar 15, 2017 at 10:29am PDT
Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t it seem like Trump’s two adult sons are a Las Vegas act looking for a casino to call home? I have a strong feeling about it, anyway. But is it a lounge act? A terrible magic show? Maybe it’s just Don Jr. and the other one shooting super-soakers at each other. (I’d pay to see that.) The exact contours of the future Trump Sons Vegas show are maddeningly hard to conjure in my imagination, and I think the reason is that we’ll all probably be dead soon.
Trump's paying members at Mar-a-Lago were witness to US-Japan huddle after news of DPRK launch. Out in open, using smartphones as lights. pic.twitter.com/Rcq4WqyLvr
— Samuel Oakford (@samueloakford) February 13, 2017
Speaking of, here’s the obligatory mention of the famous “unsecured phone who dis” moment that so captured the imagination of a Mar-a-Lago paying member, who maybe should have thought whether this was the sort of thing about which one should be enthusiastic.
10,000 strong at the protest last night, maybe more. Strong beautiful people speaking their truth! #resist #resisttrump #nobannowall #thisiswhatamericalookslike #peacefulprotest #marchonmaralago #first100days #document2017 #photography #contemporaryart #popart #protestart #wadenegus #laughingowlstudios #urbanartist #palmbeach #london #miami #losangeles #newyork @empathycollective @unitewomendotorg @womenunite__ @box_gallery @banbannon
A post shared by Wade-Negus (@wadenegus) on Feb 5, 2017 at 5:57am PST
Meanwhile, let’s check in with The Resistance, which apparently use the Mar-a-Lago geotag to riddle its Insta feed with memes and anti-Trump content.
Shady w a Capital SSSSSSS Rg @therealphilliplim #impeachtrump #democracy #dumptrump #stopbannon
A post shared by Jen Sall (@thejensall) on Feb 3, 2017 at 10:09pm PST
Mmmm. Yes, this will be the meme that finally brings Trump down.
So apparently these every weekend trips to #Florida weren't included in this "campaign promise." Note to Trump worshippers: stop drinking the kool-aid, your #dictatorinchief #lied #bigly. Continues to #LieBigly #trumpapocalypse #mangomussolini #trumpworshippers #liarinchief #impeachtrump #cheetoinchief #drumpf #pence #conway #flynn #devos #uneducated #NotMyPresident
A post shared by Impeach the Dictator in Chief (@impeach_dictator_in_chief) on Feb 18, 2017 at 6:30pm PST
I think what this image is getting at is that Trump promised to stay in D.C. and keep his nose to the grindstone, but now he’s jetting off for near-weekly getaways. Just your typically subtle content from user “@impeach_dictator_in_chief.”
#notmypresident #impeachtrump #dumptrump #fucktrump #thehangover #maralago
A post shared by @nicholastharpe (@foulperalta) on Mar 19, 2017 at 11:30am PDT
Guys, if you’re going to make a “Hangover” joke (circa 2009), then you have to get the casting right. Paul Ryan is the Ed Helms character, and Mike Pence would be the Zach Galifianakis analogue. Steve Bannon, like it or not, would be the Bradley Cooper ― but this is obviously a dated photo now that Jared Kushner has taken over.
#drove by #trump's #mansion in #palmbeach #florida #today. We made sure to say a #proper #hello. #cheeto #drumpf
A post shared by Joel Cox (@whoaitsjoel) on Mar 11, 2017 at 9:49am PST
Well, that’ll show him. Let’s get back to Mar-a-Lago, now.
Congratulations to our new National Security Advisor, General H.R. McMaster and Chief of Staff, General Keith Kellogg!
A post shared by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on Feb 20, 2017 at 12:55pm PST
Trump conducts a lot of important work while at Mar-a-Lago, including what he sees as his chief duty: promoting his business, Mar-a-Lago. But here he is making his best, “I’m-stuck-with-my-second-choice-of-national-security-adviser” face.
Follow @ChinaXinhuaNews for more about China Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump in the latter's Florida resort of Mar-a-Lago in the United States, April 6, 2017. Xinhua/Lan Hongguang #xijinping #trump #china #us
A post shared by Xinhua News Agency 新华社 (@chinaxinhuanews) on Apr 7, 2017 at 3:38am PDT
Perhaps this is Trump receiving that 10-minute Cliff’s Notes version of Far East foreign policy from Chinese President Xi Jinping that convinced the president that solving the thorny issue of North Korea was actually “not so easy.” Take that, Holiday Inn Express!
White House releases photo of Pres. Trump receiving briefing on U.S. strike in Syria from national security team last night at 9:15 ET. #Trump #Syria #USA #NationalSecurity #Military
A post shared by ABC News (@abcnews) on Apr 7, 2017 at 8:22am PDT
And here’s Trump abruptly changing his mind about the Syrian conflict and hoisting a bunch of cruise missiles at the country in a totally “Jacksonian” move.
030317sdc-PREXY/KUSHNER– WEST PALM BEACH, FL-MARCH 3, 2017-White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner arrives in West Palm Beach with his family, Ivanka Trump and their three children en route Mar-a-lago. #donaldtrump #ivankatrump #maralago #palmbeach
A post shared by Stephen Crowley (@crowleygraph) on Mar 3, 2017 at 2:43pm PST
Sometimes, the actual president and first lady come to Mar-a-Lago as well.
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