When I was just a little boy – standing to my daddy’s knee - I learned the gentle art of appreciating artful dodging from my mother who was a successful local actress, my father who was a very successful car salesman, uncles who were attorneys and politicians, and grandparents who were lawyers and judges.
My grandmother once told me my dad was so good at spinning the truth she would know he was lying to her and she’d still believe him. Perhaps that is why I enjoy standup comedy and politics so much – both offer great yarns.
Imagine my hope when I first saw President Donald Trump arrive on the scene. He brought with him Steve Bannon, a man who is a legend in his own mind. He brought us Kellyanne Conway, a woman I debated a few times in Philadelphia some 15 years ago.
She was defending Dan Quayle and I was promoting a book called “Spin Control.” It was a debate made in heaven. We had fun.
President Trump also brought Sean Spicer, the Kevin James of press spokesmen – so aggressive and wound up on stage he sometimes resembles a ferret on Benzedrine. But he had a reputation for some good stand up comedy, so okay.
I was looking forward to some world class spin.
Needless to say I’m disappointed and my dad would be downright angry.
The spin of this administration is so chaotic, rough and abrasive; it only provides laughter due to its often sophomoric sensibilities.
From “alternative facts,” to air quotes and from “wiretapping” to white supremacy and racism to neglect of the elderly, sick and the poor – it is chaos and bedlam.
One of the latest attempts at comedy and deflection involves Spicer complaining the press isn’t reporting on the Clinton campaign for – blah, blah, blah.
Well no kidding, the press isn’t reporting on the Clinton campaign. It’s over. They lost. I’ve heard of sore losers, but this is the first sore-winner administration I’ve ever seen. It is as if the Trump administration still can’t fathom the race is over and they are the victors. Trump’s in charge of the country; you can’t keep asking me why the campaign you vanquished doesn’t get as much attention as the President of the United States. It’s disingenuous, Spicer knows it and everyone in the press room knows it.
But we’re not Spicer’s intended audience. Neither are Trump supporters, though they enjoy it. The audience is the President. Everything said and everything done in the press room is for the President’s consumption.
“Mongo only a pawn in the game of life.”
So when Spicer scolded me on interrupting after the press room sat listening to the third round of how the press doesn’t pay any attention to Clinton – blah, blah, blah, I said “But you won.” I was loud.
Sometimes the blarney is just too thick.
That brings us to Mick Mulvaney. Here is someone brought on stage to explain to us the broad strokes of the administration’s first budget and what we got was nothing but the equivalent of an open mic night at the local Holiday Inn.
So repugnant was it that Mulvaney called a budget “compassionate” which cuts food programs to poor school children. He compounded his inexperience at telling an entertaining story by saying the after school meals program was cut because poor kids weren’t making better grades after being fed - so no food for them. Yep. He channeled the Soup Nazi.
Mulvaney was, however, breathtakingly honest in screwing the Third World. When an Al Jazeera reporter told him the UN claims we’re facing the greatest humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II with some 20 million people in four countries facing famine and starvation, Mulvaney merely thumbed his nose or gave the finger to those suffering. He didn’t even care enough about them to lie about it. The U.S. just isn’t spending as much with the U.N. Sorry guys.
If it was World War II and these were white Europeans starving and dying instead of brown colored people of religions we don’t understand and can’t tolerate, then you can bet your sweet and fluffy posterior we’d support the refugees.
But today’s disaffected sufferers don’t look like us. They don’t talk like us. They don’t worship like us and they wear funny things on their heads and want to wage Jihad on us at the drop of an unclean pork chop.
One could argue that leaving 20 million people starving and suffering from famine could fan the flames of extremism and create the terrorists we all want to prevent – but the administration is having none of that logic.
I queried, or tried to query Spicer about this – but he allowed me no further egress than the doorway of his office while he was scurrying off to wherever perpetually busy spokes people need to go.
He asked me why he should call on me and I said something to the effect that it is all about me.
I don’t think he caught the sarcasm, or maybe he did. I’ll have to learn to do a better impression of the President if I wish to sell it in the future.
I caught a glimpse of Spicer earlier in his main office when the door opened on a meeting. Inside the room were Conway, Bannon, Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders all apparently engaged in shaping the message Spicer would deliver later. You’d think that group of spin doctors could do better.
Honestly, it isn’t that these people are unintelligent. They’re smart. And they’re not elitists. But they have a fatal flaw. Some in the current administration not only believe the press is the enemy of the people, but they also think we’re stupid and they are the smartest people in the room.
It’s a not-so-rare form of arrogance in government – or from poor stand up comedians.
It is the callousness and coarseness of this administration that is becoming a worry.
The FBI is investigating the election. The move to replace the affordable healthcare act is facing significant hurdles and the president’s proposed budget resembles something assembled by Ebenezer Scrooge. Meanwhile people are starving, America is retreating from its position as a world leader in humanitarian causes and we are fed a steady diet of baloney that wouldn’t pass muster at my family’s breakfast table.
Don’t pour water in my ear and tell me it’s raining.
My dad taught me better than that.