Wednesday, January 11, 2017

PEOTUS Falls Flat In Front of the Fourth Estate

Trump & props at the podium   [Photo - Getty Images]
From the moment incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer took the stage Wednesday morning to vent righteous conservative outrage over "fake news" I knew I wasn't going to make it through Donald Trump's first press conference since July.

It wasn't easy trying to swallow my lingering resentment and listen, but I gave it my best shot.

Hell it was a crapshoot whether the newly crowned PEOTUS would even show up.

His transition team abruptly cancelled a press conference back on December 15th that was intended to quell the growing unease about the unprecedented conflicts of interests his wide-ranging business interests would represent.

But as many pundits noted, there was no way that Trump's gargantuan ego and paper-thin skin could resist doing something to try and seize the media headlines from President Obama after he delivered an eloquent, stirring and emotional farewell address on Tuesday night in Chicago that made many pine for the class, intelligence, thoughtfulness and grace of the 44th President even before he departs the White House after two terms.

So after Spicer's angry repudiation of BuzzFeed's release of as-yet unverified documents allegedly written by a British intelligence agent showing that Russian intelligence has proof of PEOTUS in some disturbing compromising situations (think R-Kelly...), and a wet dishrag introduction by incoming VP Mike Pence - there Trump was at the podium.

Don Jr. & Eric get the keys to the business? Really?
In just the latest example of the orange-haired one's bogarting of Ronald Reagan's best moves, Trump stood next to a table theatrically piled high with folders of documents that we can only assume are his version of "proof" of his cutting his ties to his businesses.

It was meant to ape Reagan's use of big stacks of continuing resolutions as props as he did in the 1988 State of the Union address.

But for Trump it looked like a really cheap stunt, made worse by his assertion that he won't sell his assets, but instead put his two sons Don Jr. and Eric in charge of his hundreds of businesses.

(Funny, I don't seem to recall the indignant Sean Spicer expressing outrage over "fake news" when Eric Trump was re-Tweeting a phony story back in October about a man who claimed he was paid to protest at a Trump rally...)

In a scathing op-ed posted on The Guardian's Website Richard Wolffe eloquently summed up the impressions of many who watched some, or all of today's press conference.

He pronounced it an unequivocal "train wreck." 

Trump's tax attorney Sheri Dillon
As Wolffe observed, "After a rambling introduction about carmakers, veterans affairs and his inaugural celebrations, Trump finally arrived at his desired topic of the day: the non-resolution of the conflicts of interest that will embroil his presidency from now until he leaves the Oval Office."

When Trump said, "I will be the greatest jobs creator God ever created.", I considered turning it off.

Then when he brought attorney Sheri Dillon up to the podium to outline the plans for him to cut his ties to his business interests by placing his assets into a trust to be managed by his sons and executive Allen Weisselberg, I started shaking my head in disbelief.

Moments later when Trump returned to the podium and said he would have no conversations with his sons about any aspect of his businesses during his presidency, I just turned it off.

Overall my impression of Trump's performance at his press conference today is best summed up by a quote from a really interesting essay written a month ago by Sarah Kendzior on the Website that looks at how his controversial cabinet picks are shaping up to form a kleptocracy in the White House.

As she observed of Trump:

"He has a look I see on a lot of faces these days as people take in the news: the raw panic from knowing both too little and too much."


Pepper Miller said...

Nice post. I was not available to watch the news conference, but I wanted too, and I'm not going to watch on Youtube, so your post was invaluable. I'm definitely not watching the Inauguration. So, I'll look forward to reading your post.

culturegeist said...

Thanks Pepper. As a political and news junkie who grew up outside DC I've watched every presidential inauguration since Jimmy Carter. While my heart is definitely with the many people who plan to boycott the ceremony, I'm morbidly curious about what Trump plans to say in his speech in the same way someone would slow down to look at a train wreck.

Trump's speechwriter Stephen Miller used to work for current attorney general nominee Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, so who knows what he's going to say; if he veers off topic and improvises it's going to be either hysterical, epic fail or terrifying.

As CNN reported, Miller wrote that rambling, crazy ass fear-filled speech Trump gave at the Republican National Convention this summer, so if nothing else, the inauguration address should be both amusing and scary. But in all seriousness like millions of other people, I'm deeply troubled by his vision for this country. He's said so little about what he actually plans to do, so I want to know what to expect. I'll watch as much of it as I can stomach anyway.