A Matter of Perspective (Poodlefinger Mix)

#PutiTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

A child walks past a graffiti depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on the walls of a bar in the old town in Vilnius, Lithuania, 14 May 2016. (Photo by Mindaugas Kulbis/AP Photo)

This is important:

When Donald Trump makes ridiculously untrue comments, few are surprised. The president has a reputation for breathtaking dishonesty, which is well deserved. Making matters much worse, however, is the degree to which his White House makes no real effort to be more trustworthy.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP Photo)For example, the White House issued a formal written statement late Friday responding to the federal indictment of 13 Russian operatives who are accused of attacking our elections to help put Trump in power. A Washington Post analysis described the statement as “extremely dishonest,” and documented several demonstrable falsehoods—none of which has been corrected.

But West Wing officials weren’t content to stop there. On Twitter, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “Unlike Obama, [Trump] isn’t going to be pushed around by Russia or anybody else.” That might be slightly less laughable if Obama hadn’t imposed sanctions on Russia, which is the opposite of what Trump did.

In a certain way it does not matter what the esteemed Steve Benen finds laughable. There is a long story, of course, behind the statement that, brain chemistry is brain chemistry, or that brain chemistry will as brain chemistry does, but the proposition of laughability depends on circumstantial norms observably not in effect.

When the Press Secretary says President Trump will not be “pushed around by Russia or anybody else”, we need to consider what that means to her. Because either Sarah Huckabee Sanders believes what she says or she does not. The latter is actually the extraordinary alternative, so the question becomes how she believes such a seemingly ridiculous statement.

And to this the answer is actually straightforward:

• President Trump will not be pushed around by Russia because Russia is not pushing him around.

• President Trump will not be pushed around by anybody else because he will not be pushed around by Congress or the Special Counsel’s Office.

We can call it laughable if we want, to be certain. Still, the first part is the Trump administration poodling for Puti-Toots. The second is the White House showing Congress and the Special Counsel its finger. If we wish to describe the moment as laughable, it would behoove us to consider what evokes that chortle, peal, or guffaw. After all, as Benen follows the story from his vantage, we find ourselves considering Fox & Friends and deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley. In this superficial sense, virtually everything the Trump administration does is laughable.

Are we laughing at the absurdity of a lie, or the spectacle of delusional human beings telling us largely unvarnished truth about what they think they see?


Image notes: Top — Graffiti in Vilnius, Lithuania. (Photo by Mindaugas Kulbis/AP Photo)  Right — White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP Photo)

Benen, Steve. “White House caught fibbing about Russian operatives’ indictments”. msnbc. 19 February 2018.


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