Well, that was an interesting week. Donald John Trump’s administration got off to a galloping start with American carnage, riots, massive world-wide protests, a press secretary hissy fit, and bald ass lies getting a terminological upgrade to “alternative facts.” And that was just the first 48 hours. Still to come was news that his national security adviser is being investigated by a raft of intelligence agencies, official confirmation that, promises be damned, he will not release his tax returns, renewed evidence-free claims of massive election fraud, a speech to the CIA, the basic precis of which is “everything is the media’s fault,” and a complete meltdown of diplomatic relations with Mexico. And this is just a partial list of the mind-boggling accomplished in a first week of shenanigans. Not sure where this is all going, but whatever else the Trump era is going to be, it ain’t gonna be boring.
The tone was pretty much set by the first big fight the Trump administration picked, which was more or less immediate. Bewilderingly, the kick off donnybrook was with the media over the size of the crowd at his inauguration. Both Trump and his press secretary were quick to put out schnozzolla-enlarging claims of inaugural attendance. These buried the needle so deep on the pointless fib meter it precipitated something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime: the national press corps rallying as one around the damp dish rag of its long sullied honor. Even Fox News—I’ll repeat that, Fox News—started beating up on the Trumpkins for telling whoppers.
Fox’s Chris Wallace taking Reince Priebus to the crock-flingers woodshed, and Kellyanne Conway trial-ballooning “alternative facts” to a gobsmacked Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press makes for priceless viewing, but it also leaves me scratching my head. Why would the White House start piddling away its pretty limited supply of credibility on such a piffling issue? Aren’t there more important and substantive things for a president to spend his political capital on? I mean, seriously, in the greater scheme of things who cares what size it was? Well, apparently the president does. Clearly, it’s really, really, I mean super-double-and-triple-tweet-worthy important, that everyone admits his is bigger. No wonder the media had a collective primal scream this week. The next Sean Spicer presser may bring an announcement about the new White House Office of Willy Waving, no doubt to be run by 6-foot-5-inch Richard “Big Dick” Johnson.
Some of the truly sophomoric attempts to counter media reports on crowd numbers (which, by the way I hereby name “flock blocking”), seemed to be driven by the day-after reaction to Trump’s inauguration. I talk, of course, of the women’s march of January 21st. There isn’t an official total of the number who took to the streets sporting pink “pussy hats” to state, in no uncertain terms, that a goodly percentage of the electorate—maybe even most of an entire gender–is unhappy with their chief executive. These protests went world-wide, and, fair enough, that level of immediate in-your-chops rejection had to sting if you are a Trump fan. No one, though, had enough alternative fact chutzpah to contradict the story that millions more were willing to take to the street and swear at the president than the fraction who were willing to show up to see him sworn in. Trump flaks contented themselves with saying things like, “well, I just don’t see the point.” This from people getting into a massive, multiple news cycle whizzing matches over whose was bigger, Trump’s or Obama’s. Excuse me while I go join Chris and Chuck for a cathartic scream.
I suspect that a lot of last-minute motivation to participate in the women’s march was actually provided by Trump himself in his unorthodox inauguration speech. Inauguration speeches have almost universally been employed to unify, to lay out a set of uplifting goals that all Americans can embrace and feel good about. Trump promised to end American carnage, put America first, and end the rule of the chiselers and pettifoggers who run DC. He basically dropped trou and mooned the four ex-presidents behind him who apparently had American interests on the tail end of their priority lists, shot the bird at the lawmakers he’ll need to get anything done about all that dystopian carnage, and told our allies to go stuff themselves. His populist base basically went, “yeah, baby, that’s what I’m talking about!” Media commentator jaws thudded into the ground. Europeans freaked. Vladimir Putin cheered. China started measuring up the global influence suite the United States is apparently vacating. And roughly 1 out of every 100 Americans said, “gimme me a sign and a pink hat, I’m takin’ it to the streets.”
Some went further than that. A hard core group of anti-Trumpdiehards rioted on inauguration day and looted a DC Starbucks because, well, who the hell knows what strain of addled logic motivates the left’s self-appointed stormtroopers. Probably has to do with mango frappucino micro-aggressions or some such twaddle. And even the women’s march—by and large commendably peaceful and even playful—had its moments. There were arguments about whether pro-life women should be included, and there was the usual ration of “my group is more of a victim than yours” bellyaching that accompanies pretty much any attempt at collective action by sympathizers of the Democratic Party (official party motto: “We’re all in this together, except you, you, and you, but that’s okay because differences are good, except when we don’t like them because they’re bad, and if you think this motto is a meandering hot mess of contradictory humbug you should see our policy agenda”).
That said, for at least a day the left largely set aside its reflexive drive to splinter into multiple political identities and stayed on message. What was the message? Basically, “we can count, Mr. President, and the numbers on our political abacus just met your alternative facts in a dark alley and let’s just say something didn’t add up.” Any way you cut it that was a pretty damn impressive display of mass political action. Certainly enough to spritz a dash of cold water on the celebratory revels being enjoyed by certain elected officials of a certain political party who were already nervously dodging constituent inquiries on the whole ACA/Obamacare thing.
If it achieves nothing else the march provided a template for how to peacefully and forcefully react to an administration making zippo concession to its lack of popular vote cred and brazenly getting its autocratic flirt on. Act in numbers, stick together and, whenever possible, make your point with humor rather than anger. How do you deal with all that American carnage? Lots of pink cats and droll feline double entendres appears to do the trick. That’s right, pussy wry it.