“What kind of a day was it?” Walter Cronkite used to ask on his early weekly television program, “You Were There,” that reprised significant historic events with viewers serving as eye witnesses.
It is safe to say that if Cronkite were still hosting this show, he would find enough drama in the current White House to fill a year’s worth of programing. Take the recent dose of chaos served up by the former reality TV star and entrepreneur who won the presidential election … you know the guy who lost the popular vote by nearly three million and who claims that was because of wide spread fraud.
First the man formerly known as “the Donald” shook up the staff that is supposed to keep us all informed, pushing out press secretary Sean Spicer and installing a director of communications whose name, Anthony Scaramucci, sounds like a legendary French sword fighter and who looks like he might just be one, although the Italian version. He is a pal of the Donald and a successful Wall Street financier who confesses that he loves his new boss although he once didn’t.
He also is perfectly tanned, impeccably garbed in a suit that cost a month’s wages for most folks and sporting a coiffure that obviously didn’t come from Mayberry’s Floyd the barber. Oh, yes, he knows nothing about the job. But then what can be hard about backing up the dissembling and disingenuousness that fills the rarefied air of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, much of it emanating from the famous corner office?
Standing nearby as Scaramucci appeared before the generally disheveled entourage of reporters in the White House briefing room was a study in contrast, at least in appearance — Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the deputy press secretary who had just been elevated to the main post that Spicer quit because he protested Scaramucci’s appointment. She looked like the before and he like the after. Viewing her assemblage from top to bottom, I could hear my mother’s assessment, “Poor child!”
Along with frumpiness, Sanders has the distinction of making “I’ll have to get back to you on that” the most overworked expression in the history of the White House. The embarrassment of having the rug snatched from under her by the building’s Supreme Being who tells her one thing, then tweets another doesn’t seem to embarrass her. Spicer should have quit much sooner.
On the same day that was occurring, the Donald’s favorite law enforcement officer was pondering what to do about Trump’s overt public criticism of his decision to recuse himself from the increasingly tense Russian investigation. Just about the time it looked like he was going to ignore the “I would never have appointed him” words from the boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was hit with a damning revelation that may explain why he was so quick to run away from the Russian affair.
The Washington Post reported that contrary to claims of no involvement with our traditional adversary while he was enthusiastically backing Trump as one of Alabama’s two senators, Sessions just may have been discussing campaign strategy with the Russian ambassador to the United States. Sergey Kislyak was overheard by U.S. intelligence telling his Moscow superiors that he and Sessions had talked about the campaign in a meeting Sessions had portrayed as a routine visit, according to the Post. Ouch!
At the same time, Jared Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, the first daughter, who both wield substantial influence in the Oval Office were back in the headlines. Turns out that Kushner failed to report 70 assets worth millions of dollars in financial filings required for White House aides. His lawyers said the oversight was “inadvertent,” leaving us with the burning question of how one “inadvertently” forgets 70 assets? Never mind. It’s probably fake news.
Meanwhile, with a gesture toward getting his Republican majority in line over at least one or two of his campaign promises, the one-time TV star is facing the reality of falling flat. Reform of health care reform still is a very long shot. If that can’t be resolved, can taxes, immigration, and all the other quick fixes Trump blustered about to convince a base of frustrated voters that he had the answers succeed? Probably not.
“What kind of day, (week, month) was it? One filled with the events that alter and illuminate our times. The only difference was you were there.” To which we might add, “Sadly.”
Dan Thomasson is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service and a former vice president of Scripps Howard Newspapers. Readers may send him email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Column courtesy of the Associated Press.