Trump’s grotesque first outing, and ‘alternative facts’

Trump preening in front of Langley's Holy of Holies.

Trump preening in front of Langley’s Holy of Holies./Still from CBS video.

Before I even knew what he said Saturday, I cringed at the image: Donald Trump… who has likened our intelligence community to Nazi Germany for its sin of having told the truth about Russia injecting itself into our election on his behalf… standing in front of the wall at Langley that honors CIA officers killed in the line of duty.

That, alone, was grotesque. But hey, maybe that’s not Trump’s fault. Maybe the CIA people set it up for him to stand there. Move on…

Then I learned what he said while he was there. He was there to mend fences — and good for him wanting to do that, and making it a priority. But he dishonored those assembled and even more those on the wall by spending a huge portion of his time moaning about the awful media and how they lie all the time.

What would be the pettiest “lie” for him to focus on? Yep, he claimed that the turnout for his inauguration was greater than it was, and lambasted the media for reporting it accurately.

He went on and on about it. To some who were there, it seemed he spent most of his time  talking about his grievance with the media rather than mending fences with the CIA. That’s not quite the case. Here’s a transcript of his rambling, hard-to-follow monologue (no, President Trump will not be any more coherent than the candidate was). I went through and tried, as well as I could, to separate the “CIA” parts from the “me, me, ME!” parts. My rough division came up with 1,450 words in the CIA sections, and 937 words that were purely moaning about himself and the media.

Still, pretty bad. And worse if you consider that he finds it hard to talk about the CIA without self-aggrandizement showing up in the same sentence. An example:

You know, the military and the law enforcement, generally speaking, but all of it — but the military gave us tremendous percentages of votes. We were unbelievably successful in the election with getting the vote of the military. And probably almost everybody in this room voted for me, but I will not ask you to raise your hands if you did. (Laughter.) But I would guarantee a big portion, because we’re all on the same wavelength, folks. (Applause.) We’re all on the same wavelength, right? He knows. It took Brian about 30 seconds to figure that one out, right, because we know we’re on the same wavelength.

But we’re going to do great things….

Maybe I shouldn’t have included those 114 words in the “CIA” file, since it’s so “me, me, me.” But hey, that’s how this guy reaches out to people. The basic form is, Wow, I am so great and awesome, and I know you appreciate that, so you’re great, too. I include you in my awesomeness.

So it’s hard to know what to put in the “focusing on others” category, and what is purely “focusing on me.”

A side note about the part about him and the media: He mentioned one actual error that one reporter had committed (a TIME reporter failed to see the bust of MLK in the Oval Office, and reported it was missing) — and then corrected right away as soon as he knew it was wrong. Which is what reporters do, immediately, when they report things that aren’t right. Trump, of course, uses the incident to suggest that this is but one example of the dishonesty of the media. (At least, that seems to be what he’s saying. As usual, it’s a bit hard to parse. At one point, he’s excusing the mistake; at another, he’s attaching universal significance to it.)

Note that Trump couldn’t even tell this anecdote without an extensive, childishly pathetic digression about how awesome he is: “So a reporter for Time magazine — and I have been on there cover, like, 14 or 15 times. I think we have the all-time record in the history of Time Magazine. Like, if Tom Brady is on the cover, it’s one time, because he won the Super Bowl or something, right? (Laughter.) I’ve been on it for 15 times this year. I don’t think that’s a record, Mike, that can ever be broken. Do you agree with that? What do you think?” Just, wow.

And how were the media being dishonest? By truly reporting a simple fact: The crowd that turned out for Trump’s inauguration was smaller than those for Obama in 2009 and 2013. This is obviously, clearly true, whether you go by photographs or Metro ridership. Here’s the 2009 crowd, and here’s the 2017 crowd. And it’s no big deal. Only the most fragile and insecure of men would be bothered by such a fact being reported. Hey, it was raining — so who cares, right?

Trump cares. Trump cares bigly. And therefore, so do his people.

That same day, we were treated to what may have been the most extraordinary White House press briefing in history — and hey, this was just the press secretary’s first outing! He marked the occasion by fuming at the reporters that lies were truth and truth was lies. His lies were patently obvious ones, easily refuted. And after spouting these lies, he stormed off without taking questions, which would have been remarkable in itself.

Already, this guy has made us nostalgic for the honesty, affability and quiet reason of Ron Ziegler.

OK, so a new administration’s rookie press secretary gets up and makes a jackass of himself in his first at bat. So you acknowledge it and move on, right? You hope to do better in the next game.

Nope. Not this team. The media’s refusal to embrace this lie about how many people attended the inauguration is, in their minds, the first crisis of the new administration, and calls for lashing out and circling the wagons.

The next morning, Kellyanne Conway responded to Chuck Todd’s questions about Sean Spicer’s bizarre performance by saying:

Don’t be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. You’re saying it’s a falsehood, and they’re giving — our press secretary, Sean Spicer, gave alternative facts to that.

And she was serious about that! Watch the video below.

OK, so now you have it: This new administration that was going to “Make America Great Again” spent its first weekend in power engaging in a full-court press insisting that a lie was true. Insisting adamantly, because this utterly trivial matter is of the highest importance to this crowd, because anything bearing on his fragile ego is of the highest importance to the new president!

And that the new president kicked off this farce while standing in front of a monument to patriots who died in the darkness, without credit or acclaim, transforms what might otherwise be low comedy into obscenity.

74 thoughts on “Trump’s grotesque first outing, and ‘alternative facts’

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    By the way, leading newspapers have been bending over backward, giving Trump every possible benefit on this stuff.

    For instance, The New York Times sort of excused Trump’s belief that his turnout was huge by showing photos of what his crowd, and Obama’s in 2009, looked like from the Capitol, the end from which Trump saw it. Which of course was wildly different from the way they looked from the Washington Monument — from the back of the crowd, where the gaps were most in evidence.

    Spicer acknowledged this, but completely twisted the point. Rather than being what it was — an explanation of how Trump may have made his mistake — Spicer asserted that “even” the NYT had published photos that “proved” that Trump was right and all the media were deliberately lying. Which is, you know, yet another kind of remarkable.

    The Washington Post did something similar, publishing a piece about how difficult crowd estimation is, and how fraught with political pitfalls.

    These efforts were lost on the Trump people…

    1. Claus

      What difference does it make how many people showed up? It was something like the 3rd or 4th highest attended inauguration ever. If they’re going to record attendance, have in on a Saturday not during the week when people are working.

      Looking at the pictures, why would you even want to go when you’re a quarter of a mile from the stage?

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        “What difference does it make how many people showed up?”

        That is precisely the question. So you might want to ask Trump and Spicer that. Why did Trump ruin his visit to the CIA by bringing it up and talking so much about it? Why did Spicer come out and rant about it for several minutes, in his first-ever White House briefing (which suggests that to him and the administration, the issue of “how many people showed up” was THE most important issue in the world), and then charge out of the room without taking questions?

        Why? It defies all logic, so I’d love to know…

        1. Claus

          Why did Chuck Todd lead into his questioning with that question and then not drop it once everyone but him realized that he wasn’t going to get an answer? I don’t understand reporters… or lawyers.

  2. Norm Ivey

    The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.

    -George Orwel, 1984

        1. Bart

          Damn bud, would you just back off the insulting name calling for a while? Not all members of the GOP support Trump, if anything, true Republicans don’t support him. The recent “wannabee associates” claiming to be Republicans are just that, interlopers and wannabees. And calling everyone in the GOP a “bastard” only lowers you to the level of the other side calling Democrats names when in truth, true Democrats and true Republicans are not that much different on most issues that are good for the country.

          And if you want to continue to attack GWB, start your own damn blog that is dedicated to doing nothing else but going after him. Frankly, I am weary of your constant attacks on Bush and painting every conservative member of the GOP with the same brush you do Trump supporters. You and a couple of others are opposite sides of the same coin, radical partisans.

          As I have noted on many occasions, I belong to no political party, I am an Independent with allegiance to this country, not an ideologically driven rabid partisan who cannot see the forest for the trees.

          For someone who is supposed to be so intelligent, it for damn sure isn’t showing in your remarks when you stoop to the opposition’s level.

          However, you are not obligated to change the way you express yourself but if you are not willing to change the tone and name calling, how can you expect the other side to be persuaded to listen to anything you have to say?

          1. Bill

            Really now, I have to chuckle at this insistence that Trump is not a “true” Republican. In Reagan-esque fashion he has repeatedly insisted in one way or another that Washington is “the problem” – and now has imposed a hiring freeze on federal employees while also saying he wants to cut 75% (and maybe more) of federal regulations (both of which are sure to please the “small government” crowd). He wants to reduce corporate tax rates and he’s called for a massive income tax cut (aimed mainly at high-end earners — remember “trickle-down”?). He is all in on eliminating Obamacare, of course, plus he wants to “block grant” Medicaid, an idea “states’ rights” Republicans love. One of the centerpieces of his campaign was his critical view of immigration, long a favorite whipping boy of the conservative right. His cabinet is chock full of free-marketeers, high finance and business execs as well as military – perfect fits for a Republican administration. So what is it that makes him “not genuinely Republican.” His stance on free trade? Or maybe his comments about NATO? Nope, some folks seem to forget that protective tariffs and isolationism were essential elements of the Republican Party’s platform up to the Second World War (Smoot-Hawley; Taft isolationism). Or is it the fact that he’s essentially a narcissistic shock jock? Sorry, but Republicans definitely don’t hold a monopoly on selflessness, decorum or good taste. So, yes, by all objective measures, he fits neatly into the Republican fold.

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            Bill and Bud, how about taking a moment and considering the one biggest policy move Trump has made since Friday… ditching TPP.

            Not only is that dramatically anti-business, but labor loves him for it.

            Labor leaders enthusiastically applauded him in a meeting yesterday, and one said, “It was by far the best meeting I’ve had [in Washington].”

            The GOP has stretched its “Big Tent” to untenable dimensions. Embracing Trump (only after they had no alternatives left) is their biggest stretch ever. I’m looking for the bubble to pop and the whole thing to collapse on itself soon. Of course, I’ve been looking for that for the past year…

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              And Bill… you’re right that the GOP was the more isolationist party before Pearl Harbor.

              But in my lifetime, not so much — outside of the Pat Buchanan paleo wing.

              After the war, both parties embraced internationalism. We had a consensus.

              After Vietnam, the Democrats backed away from that somewhat, but Democratic presidents still bought into internationalism, even while “leading from behind.” The GOP embraced it more enthusiastically, through Reagan and the two Bushes. The last few years, since the rise of the Tea Party, that support has receded as anti-intellectualism rose… leading to an opening for the outlier Trump.

            2. Bill

              Yeah, we get that this was really, really, really, really important to you – towering over practically everything else. And while it’s not unimportant, it’s not something most folks care much (let along know anything) about — and it’s doubtful it swayed a lot of voters. More importantly here, his rejection of it was just an expression of his protectionist/isolationist (see above) tendencies and bit of sales/showmanship — not a kowtowing to unions.

            3. Claus

              Funny how this isn’t headline news, no screaming in Washington, backed by Bernie Sanders and the only complaining are the anti-Trump folks. I’m guessing 90% have no idea what they’re screaming about.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Actually, when I posted it, I think it was the top story on the Post’s site.

                But you raise an interesting point, and it takes me back to something Bud said. He and I seldom agree, and when others have said this in recent months I’ve tended to reject it, but now I’m starting to wonder.

                Basically, Bud suggested such nonsense as the “how big my crowd was” controversy “could be a clever strategy to divert our attention from his terrible executive orders.”

                Yeah, maybe.

                But I still have a way to go before I can be convinced that anything Trump does is “clever.”

                Also… word leaking out of the already-divided Trump White House is that the reason the administration launched the whole “alternative facts” fiasco was that Trump threw a complete tantrum about it Saturday morning, and forced Spicer to go out and shout those lies. Cooler heads tried to tell him that a president has more important things to talk about, but there was no reasoning with Trump, because his snowflake-fragile ego was threatened.

                And THAT sounds much more like the Trump I’ve come to know…

                1. Bart

                  On the subject of Trump throwing a tantrum and sending Spicer out to shout those lies, it may be a good idea to recall that after the four were killed in the Benghazi attacks, Obama sent Susan Powers out to several Sunday morning talk shows to tell the viewing public the embassy compound attacks were spontaneous and a reaction to a video that very people had ever seen. Then to compound the lie, Clinton told one of the mothers of one of the four the same lie when his body was brought home.

                  Not defending Trump but media spins are not unique to Trump and fair is fair. Both were lies and both should be held accountable. The difference is that presenting “alternative facts” about the number of people at Trump’s inauguration vs. blaming the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi are not on the same scale.

                  Just remember the line from a Lou Rawls song, “you knew I was a snake when you took me in.” Apropos for a politician of any political party.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Yeah… I just remember that differently. I remember administration sources being cited in news reports within 24 hours saying it wasn’t about the video (an explanation that originally made sense, since such demonstrations were going on in other places), but was a concerted terrorist attack.

                    Since that’s what I remember –since I dismissed any notion it was just about the videos from that moment on — I’ve always been puzzled as to all this talk about Susan Rice — someone whose thoughts I’ve never put much stock in.

                    I don’t know about the claim that Hillary told a family member that. Who’s the source for that — the family member that Trump was trotting out several months back?

                    Anyway, whatever confusion may have have surrounded the Benghazi thing, even if that Susan Rice hack deliberately misled people, has anyone seen any indication that this was a concerted effort by the president of the United States to mislead anyone?

                    Isn’t that what all those hearings were about — the ones from which ex-Sec. Clinton emerged unscathed?

                    In this case, there’s no doubt. Spicer was sent out to call a briefing in which he was directed to read a series of obvious lies — lies that everyone present KNEW were lies.

                    Seems pretty different to me.

                2. Bart

                  “Rice made the rounds of the Sunday morning talk shows on Sept. 16, five days after the attack in the Libyan city, and in each one she said the fatal assault appeared to have stemmed from a spontaneous protest over an anti-Islam video.”

                  “The facts are there was never a riot,” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday on “Face the Nation.”

                  “My belief is that that was known by the administration within 24 hours and, quite frankly, Susan Rice, on your show on September 16th, the president on the 18th and the 25th, kept talking about an attack inspired by a video.”

                  Excerpts from the Washington Post, October 15, 2012.

                  And I would like to offer my most sincere apologies to Susan Powers, it should have been Susan Rice. Mea culpa! Hope I can escape the “Wrath of Claus” for making another mistake. 🙂

                3. Bill

                  I know it probably won’t do any good, but here’s an in-depth interview with someone who has actual knowledge of the Benghazi matter, former deputy chief/acting director of the CIA, Mike Morrell, who gives his inside, step-by-step account of the attacks and how those now infamous “talking points” came together:


                  Actual facts probably won’t make much of an impression on those folks here who have already made up their minds, but I thought I’d offer some anyway just for the record….

  3. Doug Ross

    The first requirement in a press secretary’s job description is lying. They all have done. Ari Fleischer was a master at being a bald faced liar. Obama’s guys have done the same thing. Rewind the tapes to the Obamacare rollout and start counting the lies about how many signed up. They all do it.

    What’s hilarious is how much “analysis” results from every statement Trump tweets or makes. I bet it took Brad longer to write this post than Trump’s speech.

    You all should really decide how much of your lives you’re going to devote to stalking Trump over the next four years. Nothing you write or say will change things. If you really WANT to change things, then run for office. Let’s see how far that gets you. All this time COULD be spent improving yourself or interacting with your families or actually helping people.

    1. Claus

      This new guy just isn’t as polished as Obama’s two liars. He probably doesn’t have the practice they did.

    2. Mark Stewart

      Doug, you have a new competitor for the darkly morose corner – DJT himself. The failed, decrepit factories! The crime in the inner cities! The unemployment across this sad country! The insured – and insurable wretches! It’s horrible out there, folks! Truly horrible! But I have a plan; I can change things! Just cheer for me and I will lead you into chaos and darkness – and look forward to making some bank off those great hats!

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        You forgot to say, “carnage.”

        That was a jolt.

        I was sort of listening with one ear, only halfway following what he was saying while doing other stuff, and when he said “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” I went WHOA! What did I miss? What had he said just before that that justified that word?

        And the answer, when I went back to see, was nothing. The word just sort of came out of nowhere…

    3. bud

      Doug he’s already signing orders that will have real consequences. This crowd issue nonsense is way beyond standard spin. It is true however that Bush lied us into war. That should make it all that much more imperitive to call him out. Also, this could be a clever strategy to divert our attention from his terrible executive orders.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Bud, I edited your comment for civility reasons.

        I did not, however, edit this part:

        It is true however that Bush lied us into war.

        Even though that statement is not at all true. That’s something that simply did not happen. Neither Bush nor anyone else “lied us into war.”

  4. Mark Stewart

    Trump’s self-esteem propping up exercise in front of the wall of unknown sacrifice was, as the ex-CIA Director said, obscene.

    So was the first press “briefing”. And Conway’s statement. What a first weekend for the new administration. Will today conclude with a lawsuit over his Constitutional violations?

    Saturday’s nationwide women’s marches were almost epic. Has any other President ever entered office with so little backing and support? Has any ever earned less goodwill in its first days? Remarkable.

    1. Claus

      So what exactly did the marches on Saturday accomplish? What difference did they make… it’s Monday, what dramatically has changed from Friday? The same as what was accomplished during the Million Man March? Nothing?

      1. Bart

        You ask what the marches on Saturday accomplished. Well, since they happened on Monday, not much happened of notice on Sunday but this one had a totally different feel to it. It was not like the Million Man March and this time, most of the marches centered around women of all ages and they were held not just here but also in other countries, many of our current ally countries. This movement has feet and they are not feet of stone, they will accomplish something with their proactive theme of getting rid of Trump.

        This movement won’t stop and it will grow as long as Trump continues to behave the way he did through the primaries, the campaign, and his first few days in office. If anything, it will gain momentum and come November, 2019, in my estimation the impact will be devastating to the Republican party unless somehow Trump can change his public persona and make peace with women across this country and other countries.

        The other consideration is that a large number of men participated and they were not all “snowflakes”, they were the husbands of women who believe Trump marginalized them by his past behavior and locker room comments. And it doesn’t matter if he is guilty or not, the perception is out there and changing the perception of a controversial figure like Donald Trump will be a very steep hill to climb. Hillary Clinton can attest to that fact very easily if she would admit it. It took 30 years for the perception of Clinton to become embedded in the public’s opinion but just a couple of years for Trump.

        Boast, crow, and be in-your-face all you want but be prepared when it all comes back and you are on the receiving end. And it will because Trump is a true zebra, he cannot change his stripes, they will always be an integral part of who he is.

        1. Claus

          Okay let’s try it again.

          “You ask what the marches on Saturday accomplished. Well, since they happened on Monday,”

          Today is Monday, two days ago was Saturday.

          1. Bart

            Well “excuuuuuuuuuse” the hell out of me for using the wrong day. I guess it automatically negates any point I was trying to make in your world. No damn wonder neither side is able to come together when nitpicking seems to be about the only legitimate point some can make.

                1. Bart

                  Okay Claus, this is yours to nitpick. Should be right in your wheelhouse and there is no reason you can’t hit it out of the park. Swing away slugger!!

      2. JesseS

        Several friends of mine showed up and one even organized a small event.

        If anything I’d say it is grass roots attempting to take hold for the left and center-left. Granted I’m looking at this from the perspective of the south, so for everyone else it would be more like center-left to center-right (the same folks who would be pro-choice, but anti-smoking ban out of principal of government interference over their personal choice).

        When I say grass roots, I don’t mean the usual “grass roots” where someone related to the Democratic party sent out a memo. More like everyone got mad at the bar over a few beers, woke up the next morning and realized they were still angry. Then by the inauguration they were still angry.

        Also I’ve heard the same thing over and over again. It isn’t “He isn’t my president!”, it’s “He is my president and I hope the best for America, BUT we aren’t going to sit by passively and act like this is some kind of mandate for what I don’t want!”.

    2. Juan Caruso

      So little backing and support? Your side lost the electoral vote that decides US. elections because citizens and illegal residents of California and New York do not get to determine the fates of the other 48 sovereign states.

      All of the deplorable tactics Democratichs use to discourage attendance were applied again:

      – available room rates were higher than for other inaugurals
      – the weather forecasts was unnecessarily gloomier
      – violent protests had been announced repeatedly (and looting and viloence did manifest)

      Republichans did not use such tactics before Obama’s first inaugural, nor were most of Obama’s attendees members of the hard-working middle class holding down those temporary jobs (85% of the “jobs created” under Obama’s regime) from flyover states.

      Additionally, live-streaming counts like YouTube, etc. that could be watched by the working class are not included in the “estimated” attendance numbers.

      What did trump lose that the Brad’s sour grapes chorus thinks it wins by convincing the uninformed of half truths?

      Answer: the loyalty of limited minds that will accept the autocratic dictates of community activists and thugs.

      Hmmm! Could be why your side LOST what was supposedly a certain victory!

  5. Claus

    If I enjoyed watching anything this weekend it was Meet the Press when Conway didn’t back down to little weasel Chuck Todd’s badgering about the attendance numbers. Is this really a big deal and the lead question for reporters?

    I hope Trump makes the Washington reporters fly commercial, or at minimum charge them to fly on Air Force One. Taxpayers don’t need to foot the bill to fly reporters around with the President.

  6. Bob Amundson

    Brad, you may have new job opportunities in your chosen field because of POTUS, especially if you would be willing to change to investigative reporting. I’m hearing that all the major newspapers are increasing their “Spotlight” types of staffs.

    1. Juan Caruso

      I would caution former journalists to be certain of checking the facts they uncover in considerable depth (more than they may have been accustomed) before publishing a false conclusion under their own name (à la Dan Rather) and destroying their future credibility!

    2. Claus

      That depends on the definition of “investigative reporting”, copying and summarizing The Washington Post isn’t exactly investigating.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        It’s not “difficult” for me. It’s frustrating for me. The whole argument is just a stupid argument to be having.

        You know who didn’t give a hoot in hell for crowd sizes, or adoration from people clapping for him? Thomas Jefferson.

        TJ actually avoided trappings of the President that would make the President appear to be like a king. (How do Obama and Trump compare?) My man TJ was so unimpressed with crowd sizes and approval of people clapping, he just mailed in the State of the Union address. Just wrote it down and sent it over to the boys on the hill.

        No clapping Congress, no adoring ovations, no thousands of handshakes. It was just “Here’s your update from the POTUS. What’s next?

        The crowd-size thing is a stupid conversation to be having. I want the President to do his job, not argue over silly crap that doesn’t matter. It’s like arguing about the clouds. Who cares? It’s not like “Oh, gee. Trump didn’t have as many people show up to his inauguration as Obama. Trump didn’t get as many celebrities to show up! I guess that invalidates the election. Show’s over, boys. Pack it up.” He’s still the President.

        Personally, I’d prefer we not treat the inauguration of President like it’s the Super Bowl halftime show, but I guess me and TJ are a bit old-fashioned about that, and I’m certain we’re in the minority.

        1. bud

          We’re celebrating the peaceful transfer of power. I think that’s worth celebrating. Just keep it dignified.

  7. Bryan Caskey

    To the location of the press conference, that just makes me uncomfortable. It’s a memorial wall for the dead. It’s not an appropriate backdrop for giving press conferences. Maybe it’s routinely used, I don’t know. I hope it isn’t.

    In the hypothetical world where I’m POTUS (I know, I know…God between us and evil, right?): If I had showed up and my lectern had been set up in front of the CIA Memorial Wall, I would have asked to have it moved because it’s a memorial for dead people, not a background shot in what is a political press conference.

    For instance, no one would think it appropriate to give a press conference at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, or the Arizona Memorial, etc. It’s just not appropriate.

    But maybe I’m a bit old fashioned on this – I don’t even like it when kids play on monuments that have steps around them. I don’t let my kids run around on top of the confederate monument out in the front of the statehouse.

    1. Juan Caruso

      No one should argue that the memorial wall was an ideal venue.

      Likewise, dead voters should certainly not have been enrolled in the recent election. The landscape of political correctness that used to demand pause and even stop many debates, was recently overwhelmed by what is more important to the jury of voters who have followed rules, obeyed the laws, worked hard, and once trusted a corrupt, uniparty government.

      Sorry for the rude awakening the new landscape seems to have cause the unprepared. It had been equally rude for many of us since Reagan.

    2. Bart


      Thanks for this. I feel the same way. Maybe I too am a bit old-fashioned but there are certain protocols, respectful gestures, and simple manners that a POTUS should adhere to and so far, Trump has discarded all of them. Trump has not earned the right, maybe the office, but not the right to stand in front of a wall honoring CIA agents who gave their lives in service to our country.

      Trump has been POTUS since Friday morning and it already feels like 3 years instead of 3 days. Think I will take a break from Trumpmania for a while and personally give it a rest for a few days. Need to build up my strength for the long haul over the next four years – if he lasts that long.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Yeah, I feel the same way.

        That’s what I meant in the post when I said, “Before I even knew what he said Saturday, I cringed at the image…” The optics, so to speak, were terrible.

        Even if he’d suddenly become presidential and said all the right things, it was a bad idea for him to be standing there. Especially since he was already in the hole with the Nazi Germany remark…

        1. Claus

          I didn’t like Obama, but my God… I don’t recall anyone on our side going of the deep end like I’m seeing here. It’s as if the Democrats have never been told the word no before or sent home without a trophy in their hands. It’s to the point where it’s gone from disturbing to slightly amusing. I’ve watched a few YouTube videos of the protests, Trump is a Nazi but these people are dressed in all black (like HItler’s SS troups), call each other comrades (maybe they’re Russian) and anarchists (because we only good things come from anarchists). They shout at the police, but then when someone touches them they’re shouting for the police. Snowflakes…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            You’re failing to see some things that should be evident.

            Here’s the most important one, which both you and Bud are missing:

            This is NOT about Democrats vs. Republicans, not by a long, long shot. This has absolutely NOTHING to do with what people on what you call “your side” did or did not do with regard to Obama. Nor does it have anything to do with what “Democrats” think. I don’t give a damn about what Democrats OR Republicans think, if they can be said to think.

            Every bit of this has to do with the fact that a grotesquely unfit person — not a party, not a group, but one extraordinarily unqualified, unbalanced individual — is now president of the United States, and to use a phrase of Lincoln’s “clothed with immense power.”

            Every one of the three days since he was inaugurated, he has amply demonstrated how unfit he is for this job.

            There’s nothing to compare this to in our history.

            It makes zero sense to say, “Republicans didn’t react this way to Obama” or “Democrats didn’t react this way to Bush,” for a couple of reasons.

            First, yeah, they did. Both screamed and hollered and moaned from the start because “their” guy didn’t win. (Absurdly, some Democrats still claim their guy DID win in 2000, and it was “stolen” from them.)

            Second, that behavior was absurd, and harmful, in that people can look back to that and think the reaction to Trump is somehow the same thing.

            It’s not the same thing. Obama, Bush, Clinton, the first Bush, Reagan… they were all, going back to Washington, FAR more fit for this high office than this gross, unstable individual now in the White House.

            There was our entire history from 1789 to 2016, and there’s now — and there’s just no parallel between the two eras…

            1. bud

              Sorry Brad I vigorously disagree with you here. This IS about party. Trump IS the face of the GOP. His demeanor DOES reflect where his party is. Just watch the cabinet confirmation hearings. These utterly unqualified people will be confirmed by REPUBLICANS. To simply dismiss the Trump phenomenon as just an aberration restricted to one individual is flat wrong. Trumps values are Republican values. This just is not the party of Jacob Javits or George HW Bush or Nelson Rockefeller or Gerald Ford. Hell this isn’t even the party of Nixon! It was Republicans who nominated him. It was Republicans who voted for him Nov 8. Trump doesn’t stand alone, rather he embodies the soul of the 2017 GOP. Just look at the evidence. It’s crystal clear what a craven organization the GOP has become. The sooner we understand that Trump=GOP the sooner we can fix this.

              1. Bryan Caskey

                “Sorry Brad I vigorously disagree with you here.”

                You “vigorously” disagree? Not just regular ol’ disagree? Okay… 🙂

                I had to laugh when I read that. My wife (who is also a lawyer) and I have this sort of running joke about when people say something like that becuase it’s in A Few Good Men Here’s the scene:

              2. Bryan Caskey

                “Just watch the cabinet confirmation hearings. These utterly unqualified people will be confirmed by REPUBLICANS.”

                For those of you sports fans scoring at home, I believe we have two cabinet picks who have been voted on: Mattis for SECDEF and Kelly for DHS.

                The official score in the Senate was: Mattis 98-1; Kelly 88-11

                Just tossing some facts out there. Or are those alternative facts? I always mix those two up. 🙂

                1. bud

                  The big ones are yet to come. Tillerson is next. I suspect the Dems will likely vote no in greater numbers. While writing this I see 11-10 out of committee strictly along party lines.

                  Not only do I vigorously disagree with Brad I double dog vigorously disagree. 🙂

                2. bud

                  These 4 will say everything you need to know about how Democrats and Republicans are different:

                  State – Rex Tillerson
                  Education – Betsy Devos
                  EPA – Scott Pruitt
                  Health – Tom Price

                3. Scout

                  Maybe alternative facts happen in the upside down.
                  Is there any way we can get Trump into the upside down? These are definately some pretty strange things.

              3. Brad Warthen Post author

                Keep it up, Bud. Make the Republicans circle around him and defend him. Help him maintain a grip on something close to 50 percent of the electorate, instead of being isolated as he should be.

                I’ll never, EVER understand why partisans think the way they do. Rather than improve the situation, they’d rather go over the falls together with their fingers locked around each other’s throats. The competition is just so much more important to both sides than the good of the nation is…

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  I mean seriously, Bud, what good result do you expect to see from thinking the way you do instead of the way I do?

                  It’s like self-flagellation…

                2. bud

                  I think you’re naive. McConnell, Ryan, Cruz and the rest are every bit as dangerous as Trump, maybe more so. It’s just a matter of style. My way of thinking is rational. Yours is foolish. Yours just enables the rascals by giving them cover. It’s time to call them out not defend them. 11-10 for Tillerson says it all. Little Marco was the deciding vote.

              4. Scout

                Bud, I’m with you a lot of the time. But seriously, Trump is rogue. He is an amoral shell that blows in the wind of his ego, or rather Id. I disagree with a lot of republicans most of the time, but they do have a singularity of purpose that I can respect even if I disagree with it. Trump’s singular purpose is only making Trump great.

      2. Russ

        I’m late to the party but Obama stood in front of the same wall shortly after his election and cracked jokes during a speech and I don’t recall the media getting itself all wound up. I guess it is true that it doesn’t matter what was done, all that matters is who did it.

    3. bud

      But he didn’t ask for it to be moved. Then he basically spit on their honor. Worst POTUS moment since My Pet Goat.

  8. Brad Warthen Post author

    I mentioned Ziegler above.

    If only he were alive and Trump had the sense to hire him as communications director, he could save Trump thusly:

    — Fire Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway.
    — Declare everything they said an “inoperative statement.” People gave him a hard time for that phrase, but it made certain sense. Compared to “alternative facts,” it’s wisdom from Aristotle, written by Shakespeare…

    1. Claus

      Those of us Trump supporters are happy with who he has selected. I have not heard one say either needs to be replaced. It’s the people on the polar opposite who have problems with them. Much like I did with both of Obama’s Press Secretaries… everytime I saw them I wanted to smack both of their smirky, condescending attitudes off their face. Especially the first one who thought he was doing us all a favor by standing there… the last guy was just an idiot.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Since you bring up Obama’s press secretaries, you’re evidently missing the point.

        I invite you to read this response to another of your comments…

        Every Democrat and every Republican who have been president are closer to each other than Trump will ever be to any of them. Making comparisons simply changes the subject…

  9. Harry Harris

    I’m just pleased that the news media and other news outlets aren’t letting this stuff go by. For years, Republicans have promoted false premises and false equivalencies without much scrutiny. K Conway tried the same stuff (about the MLK bust) Sunday, and was called on it vigorously. If he is allowed to push his version of reality without strong, responsible push-back despite the need for cooperation where it’s possible, we can be sure he will push the truth standard back to a Trump level. He will continue to tell his supporters to believe his persecuted version of any issue instead of their own lying eyes. And many will.

    1. Doug Ross

      Oh, if we could only go back to the Obama days.. when everything was pure and open and truthful. Or the Bush / Cheney days when you could trust that every word that came out of their mouths was factual.

      They all lie to suit their agendas.

      1. Harry Harris

        Terribly false equivalency. You interpret, I interpret, but if you can’t see through Trump’s brand of dangerous disregard for truth, it might be worthwhile to do some fact-checking meditating.

        1. Claus

          Have you ever sat on a jury? Both sides will prevent facts to benefit their client. The Anti-Trump crowd will state facts to benefit them, the Trump crowd will state facts that benefit them.

          It’s not a conspiracy.

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