The shape of the downward spiral: The downward spiral is hard to watch. The Conwayism has been horrific. Our tribe has been horrible too.
Last Saturday night, Trump press secretary Sean Spicer staged a ridiculous public breakdown, screeching about the press corps' alleged dishonesty while offering crowd size information which plainly seemed to be false.
Yesterday, in his first press conference, Spicer copped to the fact that he had used bad numbers about public transit (Metro) ridership during recent inaugurations. Speaking with Jonathan Karl, he authored these claims about where his bad information had come from:
KARL (1/23/17): Is it your intention to always tell the truth from that podium, and will you pledge never to knowingly something that is not factual?Did Spicer believe his Metro numbers were correct at the time he pimped them? We have no way of knowing. Luckily, our team had Kevin Drum to let us know, right from the start, that Spicer was peddling "lies."
SPICER: It is. It's an honor to do this, and yes. I believe that we have to be honest with the American people. I think sometimes we can disagree with the facts. There are certain things that we may not fully understand when we come out. But our intention's never to lie to you, Jonathan. Our job is to make sure that sometimes—and you're in the same boat—
There are times when you guys tweet something out or write a story, and you publish a correction. That doesn't mean that you were trying to deceive readers and the American people, does it? And I think we should be afforded the same opportunity.
There are times when we believe something to be true, or we get something from an agency, or we act in haste because the information available wasn't complete, but our desire to communicate with the American people and make sure that you have the most complete story at the time. And so we do it.
KARL: Do you have any corrections that you would like to make, or clarifications on what— I don't want to get into it or relitigate the whole issue, but like, on the issue of Metro ridership, you made a statement about—
SPICER: We did, and at the time, that was provided by the inaugural committee, came from an outside agency that we reported on. And I think knowing what we know now, we can tell that [Metro] numbers are different, but we were trying to provide numbers that we had been provided. That wasn't like we made them up out of thin air.
Meanwhile, the press corps did its usual terrible job nailing down Spicer's new account of the facts. Nor have we seen any sign that any news org is going to seek further clarification about Spicer's original ridiculous statements. Truth to tell, they don't actually care.
Spicer also offered these complaints concerning that mistaken press pool report about the bust of Dr. King. We think this is worth considering:
SPICER: I want to make sure that we have a healthy relationship. We saw the other day that—and I'm not trying to rehash history, but you're asking the question so I'm going to answer it.We think those remarks are reasonable, including the remarks about Rep. Lewis. Luckily, we have plenty of tribal sachems to tell us Our Own Tribal Stories, exactly The Way We Like Them. We're all dittoheads now!
You know, we had a tweet go out about Martin Luther King. Think about how racially charged that is. And someone rushes out and says to the entire press corps that the president of the United States has removed the bust from his office. Do you—I mean, think about what the signal—hold on, please.
I'm just saying that when you—when things like that happen, when John Lewis says that he's never missed an inauguration and we find out actually he did, he skipped George W. Bush's, that there are points in which we have a right to make sure that we correct the record.
it's a two-way street. We want to have a healthy and open dialogue with the press corps and with the American people about what he's doing to help this country and to unite it. But in a time when he's trying to unite this and he keeps talking about uniting this nation, bringing this nation together, and then a tweet goes out in a pool report to, what, a few thousand people saying that he removed the bust of Martin Luther King, how do you think that goes over?
Donald J. Trump strikes us as diagnosable. It seems to us that he's a very dangerous person; it seems to us that Kellyanne Conway is a visible crackpot nut. It seems to us that Trumpism is a very dangerous movement, in a way which goes well beyond childish cheerleading for the use of the thrilling term "lie."
That said, our own side stinks to high heaven. The journal Slate isn't the White House, and Heather Schwedel isn't president of the United States. But good God! Schwedel's reports the past two days are signposts to conservative triumph (links below). The fact that our team can't seem to grasp this fact just shows how helpless we are.
Then too, there are the thing The Other Team hears and sees, the things from which we're shielded. Last night, Hannity viewers saw and heard some of the downside from Saturday's march, including some of Madonna's endless self-dealing garbage. Nor was Madonna alone.
Conservatives get exposed to this crap. On cable, Our Own Corporate Liberals shield us from being forced to consider the things Our Own Tribal Crackpots do.
Donald J. Trump strikes us as deranged. The haplessness of Our Own Self-Impressed Side is what sent him to the White House.
It happened in Slate: We're so old that we can remember when Slate was almost for grownups.
Yesterday, Schwedel wrote this, then followed with this. (Good God. "A Detailed Forensic Analysis of Melania Trump’s Creepy, Devastating Inauguration Smile/Frown!")
That second piece even includes a groaner correction. ("Correction: This piece originally misstated that when reversed, Melania's smile turns into a frown. When the footage is played backward, her frown turns into a smile.")
No, we aren't making this up. This is who we actually are.
Regarding Schwedel, it's hard to believe that grads from Penn (class of 2009) can be almost as childish, self-involved and dumb as their counterparts from Wharton. Or that Slate is willing to publish such ludicrous pitiful nonsense.
Our tribe worked hard to put Trump where he is. We show few signs of stopping.
At present, we simply don't have what it takes. We've been this way a long time.