For those feeling as though the current political reality in the US is starting to look like hyperactive fiction, last week provided a lot of fodder for the notion that everything is speeding toward some kind of season finale. First, there was the news from intelligence agencies that voting systems in seven states were actually hacked by Russians. Then there were reports about special counsel Robert Mueller asking the Trump campaign when they knew about Russia hacking DNC and Clinton campaign emails. And, finally, there was Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's admission that the platform is unhealthy. What in the world is going on? Glad you asked. Read on, dear friends. A cornucopia awaits.
A Real American Hero
What Happened: Everyone knows that the real role of the president is to literally run toward danger in an unrealistic fantasy scenario intended to prove his macho-ness, right?
What Really Happened: As the conversation about gun control—and school safety—continues in the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, President Trump revealed last week what he would've done if he was on the scene.
…most just laughed at the sheer unbelievability of the idea.
The best response might have been from the The Root, which ranked the presidents more likely to save people than Trump. As always, the White House press secretary was around to clarify that the president wasn’t really making such a ridiculous, laughable and, honestly, somewhat offensive claim.
Well, sure. That’s definitely what he meant. Still, even if that actually was the case, it’s not like there weren’t other things for the administration to feel embarrassed about during that same meeting.
The Takeaway: It wasn’t just the idea of Trump heading towards danger that some deemed ridiculous, however.
Ivanka Trump’s Big Dodge
What Happened: When is a senior presidential advisor not a senior presidential advisor? When it’s easier to call herself the president’s daughter and avoid answering questions.
What Really Happened: Speaking of important issues: sexual harassment. The fact that society as a whole is having a long-overdue reckoning on the subject of sexual assault and harassment while President Trump has been accused of inappropriate behavior by multiple women remains one of the more uncomfortable facets of the current climate. But at least news organizations keep asking about it—even if they’re not given many answers.
Indeed, not only did the lead singer of Guns N’ Roses got in on the act…
…but even the dictionary couldn’t help but throw shade:
With this kind of pushback, it’s no surprise that Ivanka took to Twitter later that day to clarif—sorry, we’ve just been told she just posted a travel update:
That’s sure to put an end to the debate. For those wondering, she’s still not responded to the criticism, but perhaps she’s too busy helping out on another family problem, which we’ll get to in a second.
The Takeaway: Maybe everyone was too harsh on Ivanka, though!
Hey, we did say “maybe”!
Jared Kushner’s Security Clearance—or Lack Thereof
What Happened: Speaking of senior presidential advisors in trouble, things really weren’t going Jared Kushner’s way last week.
What Really Happened: Actually, let’s get into what might be distracting Ivanka right now: The collapse of the political career of her husband, Jared Kushner. Those with memories might remember that, back in the halcyon days of mid-February, White House chief of staff John Kelly ordered an overhaul of security clearances when it emerged that all kinds of people in the Trump administration were working using interim clearances having not passed FBI standards for whatever reason. One of those people happened to be Trump’s son-in-law who, it turned out, had access to the highest-level intel briefing available, again for whatever reason. This, according to reports, put Kelly and Kushner at odds, a situation that the president was all too happy to steer clear of.
Well, this week, the situation apparently got resolved.
Yes, Kushner’s clearance got “downgraded,” which is a polite way of saying, “Someone finally realized that they couldn’t get away with letting Jared see everything anymore.” Twitter, of course, was quick to offer comment.
Let’s just take a moment to think about what this could actually mean in practice, though. Sure, Kushner won’t be reading the president’s daily brief anymore, but is that actually a good thing? Well probably, yes, it is. But there’s also this to consider:
Still, it is what the people wanted. Or, at least, these people.
Still, say many on the right, what’s the big problem? Kushner’s probably a nice guy, why can’t he see the secrets? Well, because at least four foreign governments were reportedly working on ways to seek leverage on him, which is kind of a big deal. But, really, who could’ve seen that coming?
And that’s not to mention that his family businesses seemed to have received loans after White House meetings, which seems … not exactly ideal. For what it’s worth, Kushner apparently thinks this is all part of a big plan against him, which is in itself a little concerning. As his star falls inside the White House, many are wondering how long he’ll last.
The Takeaway: Just think what it’s like for poor Mr. Kushner, however.
Big Little Lies
What Happened: Perpetuating the theory that the current White House is filled with people who might not be great at their stated jobs, the communications director failed to communicate what she’d intended when testifying before Congress last week.
What Really Happened: For a woman who’s tried her best to stay behind the scenes, White House communications director—and most powerful person in Washington, according to GQ—Hope Hicks has found herself worryingly visible recently. First of all, there was her (now ex-)boyfriend Rob Porter’s domestic abuse scandal and her role in the whole thing, and then last week, she found herself testifying in front of the House Intelligence Committee about the ever-deepening Russia scandal and what role, if any, the Trump campaign and administration played in attempts to undermine the 2016 election. For anyone hoping that Hicks was about to spill the beans, however, her entrance to the hearing didn’t bode well.
…As it turned out, there was good reason for that.
It also did have some revelatory moments, hanks to one unfortunate comment from Hicks…
In what could only seem like a bad idea for an administration that is, in theory, trying to protect itself from allegations of lying, Hicks did, indeed, testify that she lies for her boss, but that it’s OK because she definitely wouldn’t lie about Russia. Well, if you can’t trust the word of someone who just admitted to lying, who can you trust?
Oh, and if you’re wondering, yes, the “white lies” puns you expected were, indeed, made.
All of which made the news that Hicks was resigning soon seem pretty much like a foregone conclusion, really.
The Takeaway: Remember, Hicks is the communications director at the White House. You’d think she’d have more of an idea of things not to say in testimony.
Come Fly With Me
What Happened: For those wondering if the conservative mindset would ever reject the free will of the markets, the answer was revealed last week when a company dared to do something that some conservatives didn’t like.
What Really Happened: Let’s look back at the fallout of the gun control debate for a brief second. It may have escaped your notice but, as part of what appeared to be a movement, albeit an unpopular one, Delta Airlines pulled its discount partnership with gun lobbyists last week.
Delta’s movie, it turned out, was one that would have somewhat surprising repercussions.
That’s Casey Cable, current lieutenant governor of Georgia, which happens to be the home state for the airline. And, yes, he’s apparently threatening to use politics to punish the company for making a decision he doesn’t personally support, something that Twitter definitely noticed.
Promising to do? Oh, Debra. This, it turned out, was no mere promise:
Yes, the state’s Republicans crossed, as the Washington Post called it an “ethically murky line” by killing a promised $40 million tax exemption for the company, a move that definitely raisedeyebrows and, say some, potentially hurt the state’s chances of landing the second Amazon headquarters. Nonetheless, Cagle was unrepentant, and perhaps with good reason. After all, the right was certainly happy about this turn of events:
But could the whole thing backfire in a way that’s very bad for the state?
The Takeaway: Oh, and because corporations are people, my friend, there’s another complication to consider.
This one could potentially run and run… OK, fly and fly.