It was right before the Thanksgiving holiday, and the halls were nearly empty. Most of the young wranglers in the lower press area, including Disney’s own Caroline Sunshine, were out and about. In the upper press offices, a few of the assistants skulked silently around the place, hiding behind screens, occasionally making faces at passing reporters and trying otherwise to remain unnoticed.
The preternatural calm in the White House press office had an “undead” quality to it, almost as if the staffers feared the appearance of a starving flesh eater at any moment. Four of us reporters who still possessed our press passes—this was just a few days before the White House finally restored Jim Acosta's—gathered in the tight hall, wanting to speak to either Sarah Huckabee Sanders or Bill Shine to find out what was going on.
Several media outlets reported that First Lady Melania Trump had found disfavor with a little known White House official and that Mira Ricardel—a name previously only known by policy wonks and a few staffers—had been escorted off the White House campus and flushed, just like dozens of White House employees have been during the last two years. Senior White House officials (their term, not mine) ushered us into a small office a few minutes later and dropped the dime: Ricardel was still working at the White House and hadn’t been escorted anywhere. “I just saw her at her desk guys...she’s still there,” we were told.
Eamon Javers of CNBC asked if she would be there tomorrow (that is, on a Wednesday).
"Wait and see" was the gist of what we were told in between shoulder shrugging.
The “senior White House officials” didn’t know. Their wide eyes and confused looks underscored a point that is increasingly apparent at the White House: nobody seems to know what’s going on.
Of course, as we know now, Ricardel was eventually exited from the White House, just about seven months into her tenure as deputy national security adviser.
The point is, there is no plan.
There is little communication, and the efforts to put a brave face on a growing disaster are futile and frustrating to those laboring under the delusion they can keep the ship of state righted. While the Donald Trump administration has long been an exercise in futility, anger, deception, hatred, racism and bitterness covered with a good deal of greed and avarice, ever since the midterm elections, Trump can no longer convince himself that he’s doing a good job. Hence, everyone is picking apart the administration from the inside. The sharks, including the First Lady, are circling. There is no Control Agent 86. Only Chaos.
With no firm grasp on reality, a fear has risen among some that the president’s health is in question or that an anonymous op-ed writer is at large, still claiming to be part of a coup of do-gooders that holds it all together. But it is clear the president is not only in over his head but clearly drifting away in a turgid sea of corruption and conspiracy theories of his own making.
So much has happened so quickly since the midterms that the average voter can barely get a grasp on one horrifying occurrence before being dealt another. While some may argue that hasn’t changed since the first day of Trump’s administration when a now nearly-forgotten Sean Spicer lied about the size of the president’s inaugural crowd, that narcissistic deception pales when compared to a president standing in a rare news conference and declaring victory in a midterm election after his party firmly got its ass kicked because of his shenanigans.
Of course, his shock at being handed his ass in the election is a byproduct of going to rally after rally of hardcore supporters who’d still support the president even if he actually and not metaphorically shot someone in the face on Fifth Avenue in New York in front of hundreds of witnesses.
One of the president's most memorable news conferences is destined to be studied by future generations in its entirety for the president’s loathsome antics.
One of the president's most memorable news conferences, held earlier this month, is destined to be studied by future generations in its entirety for the president’s loathsome antics, disrespect for the country, his office, himself, the press and people in general (in no particular order.) The president insulted members of the GOP who didn’t “embrace” him. He claimed nearly a total victory. He professed a platonic crush on Oprah Winfrey. He told several of us to sit down. He sparred with nearly every reporter he called on and relished the confrontations. He lied and in typical fashion lied about lying.
The fallout from that news conference is still being felt. With a demeanor that resembled a cross between a failing insult comic on open mic night and a grumpy grandfather shouting, “You kids get off my lawn,” Trump looked to be more unhinged than usual, if that is possible.
Clearly his actions have spurred a reaction few expected, but in retrospect we all should have seen coming.
Nature abhors a vacuum and Washington D.C. abhors a power vacuum. Someone had to step up. That person finally became the president's wife.
Nonetheless the president remains in a grand funk, threatening the Mueller investigation again and forgetting to politicize the band of refugees that spurred him to call up the military on a whim to our open borders riddled with crime, decadence and Middle Eastern terrorists.
In its place are packs of quick-change artists intent on voting 18 or 20 times, forcing Trump to blow a gasket and stop counting votes before he loses even more influence and power at the local, state and federal level.
The man whose supporters say is the best at finding a victory in whatever happens to him is strapped with the reality that there is little to celebrate these days. The walls are closing in on this garbage dump of an administration and as much as he sees himself as a reality star in the greatest production of his life, the reality is he is only a master of disaster.
The Democrats have their own problems with their new found success at the ballot box and cannot be counted on to act rationally because after all Trump is really good at bringing out the worst in everyone. But the one thing the Democrats cannot do is equal Trump in a race like intoxicated dung beetles to the bottom of the pile of excrement the president has created.
Those who work for Trump know how fast and how low he can go. Their faces betray their fear and loathing. Secretly they loathe the president and quietly, they fear they’ll never be employed again in their lifetime for casting their lots with such a putrid soul. One staffer explained to me how he shudders coming into work on a daily basis. “The president always seemed angry,” I was told. Most staffers got used to it and did their best to work around his monumental temper and thick-headedness. “Now it seems like he’s even angry with the furniture,” I've been told.
Even worse, there is a weariness among many staffers that is impossible to ignore. “It’s hard to defend any Trump policy because he is nuts,” a member of the GOP recently told me. Democrats and partisans who think themselves superior will shake their heads, gloat and strut like the jackasses which represent their party.
The man whose supporters say is the best at finding a victory in whatever happens to him is strapped with the reality that there is little to celebrate these days.
Sitting in your hotel room in Paris and refusing to hold hands with other world leaders at the centennial celebration of the end of World War I is unconscionable. Failing to honor our own veterans on Veteran’s day is unbelievable. Yanking press passes from reporters you don’t like is unfathomable. Screaming “voter fraud!” when there is no proof (and members of your own party say there is none) is criminal. Insulting the president of France is childish. Courting Russia and North Korea before our closest allies is exceedingly dangerous for all of us on the planet. Tax cuts to the rich and record deficit spending while cutting climate regulations, gutting the EPA and ignoring science is unwarranted, ugly, careless, unnecessary and stupid.
Blaming record forest fires on poor forest management and insulting those who are fighting the fires is the mark of an untutored and juvenile mind. Think of Archie Bunker on steroids.
The few successes Trump has achieved during his disastrous tenure is a result of chaining himself to Senator Mitch McConnell, a particularly offensive smelling bottom dweller that fellow GOP members equally loathe and admire for his soulless ability to pull the strings of government.
“I listen to McConnell for the same reason I listen to a rattlesnake’s rattle,” one GOP Congressman explained.
But boots are made from rattlesnake hide, and Trump would be the boot maker if it suited him. For now the president is in a downward spiral, and since he’s already excavated the basement and found a chasm below, there really is no telling “how low can you go.”
Get ready to do the limbo, all over this limbo world. Beyond that, keep an eye on the White House. Who is in charge? When the petulant and angry Commander in Chief wants to puff himself up, he’ll take the reins.
But when he is in his throws of panic and despair, who is calling the shots?
That unidentified op-ed writer and his cabal of sideshow freaks might still be around, but in this administration the only thing that remains certain is everything is uncertain. A real national emergency I fear would expose this clown car for what it is and that is something we should all be have on our mind.
Well—that, and whatever else Melania wants.