The other day, Kellyanne Conway was named counselor to the President of the United States. I can see making her the press spokesman, that's her background, after all, but why should the Trump administration be contstrained by little things like that. But counsleor to the president?? And just a day or so after being named we got a perfect example of why this was such an a lousy idea.
Last night.she was a guest on Rachel Maddow's show, and they were was discussing Trump's horrific Tweet about expanding our nuclear program. As part of the conversation. Maddow was setting up a point and off-handedly asked what country has the third most nukes after the U.S. and Russia. Conway's remarkable answer was -- "I don't know."
"I don't know."
She is going to be the counselor to the President of the United States...and she doesn't know the third top nuclear power in the world. (It's France, by the way.) One would really hope that knowing something like that would be extremely high on the list of things to know. After all, it probably helps in informing the advice you're counseling on. Being skilled though in misdirection and sleight of hand, she continued on, quickly saying "But I'm sure Donald Trump knows."
Since Rachel Maddow was making a different, larger point she let it slide to address her issue. But it's not a slideable response. First of all, no, I'm NOT sure Donald Trump does know who has the third-biggest nuclear arsenal. I don't know if he has a clue, nor do I have a reason to think he has a clue, most especially since he showed his profound irresponsiblity with his nuke-based Tweet.. But the thing is, that's beside the point, even if he does know. Because the point is -- as *counselor to the President* SHE SHOULD KNOW.
It was a horrible answer. Truly horrible.
But then that's the case with so many of the Trump nominees to the new cabinet or administration, people named who either have no business beiing in a position beyond their expertise, like Ben Carson and Rex Tillerson, or those who are publicly opposed to the agencies they've been put in charge of, like Rick Perry. Not to mention Steve Bannon who has no business being chief adviser to the president, though he certainly earned his place to be part of the administration, as Ms. Conway has. But they should be in positions for which they are qualified. (In Bannon's case, that's more of a challenge, though Second Assistant Personal Valet might work, since he is fit to shine Trump's shoes.) If Conway gets more criticism that's because she's not only been around much longer than all these other except for Bannon, who came in at the same time, but she's also the public face. It's been her job to defend the reprehensible. And now she's been put in a position to not just defend, but explain what she has no understanding of. And that lack of undestanding was shown by her answer to that question and her further inability to explain the Trump nuclear triad policy which were truly horrible.
But then, most of what I heard in the interview was truly horrible. I say "most of what I heard" because I find her unlistenable. I find her responses to be a combination of lies, avoidance, misdirection and ignorance, all wrapped in a sweet little bow of a smile that appears valid on the surface, when there's an iceberg underneath ready for the country to crash into and sink it. Even Rachel Maddow, after asking a range of hard questions, shook hands with Conway at the end for having a "civil discourse" -- missing the point that a seemingly civil discourse is the brand of shiv that she uses.
When asked about Trump's lie on the stump about the unnamed Martha Radatz of ABC News supposedly crying on Election Night (something she didn't do) -- which, yes, Maddow referred to specifically as a "lie" -- Conway avoiding answering the question about apologizing publicaly and kept talking about it being dealt with behind the scenes "in a way you'd like." Not only do I question that, since I question most everything on the surface by this team, so anything hidden away is even more suspect, but the larger point -- as Maddow kept saying -- is that the lie was made publicly, so the apology or addressing it should be public, as well.
Then there was the question about what Trump meant by his "expanding" our nukes Tweet, and she was sliding so far over the place that I'm not sure even she know where she ended up, talking about what he was trying to get across, when the question was about what he specifically meant.
Or the separate questions about Trump appointees Mike Flynn and Monica Crowley each making wildly irresponsible comments that ranged into the lunatic, one from Flynn pushing whacked-out conspiracies with Hillary Clinton running a crime ring with children from a pizza restaurant -- really! -- the other being Crowley's claims that Barack Obama isn't actually black (honest!!), which raised the question about their judgement, and all we got was a resume of the fine experiences they have. As Maddow pointed out, you may be a noble person but if you run over someone with your car, none of your past credentials matter.
Or Maddow's question about the soon-to-be First Lady suing a journalist for what she claims to be a lie (which may be a lie, for all I know), and wondering if this will be the First Family's policy once they're in the White House. And the answer was...well, who knows?. Her reply just had to do with how people shouldn't lie, which has nothing to do with the question about whether they'll be suing everyone who lies about them in print. To which Maddow made the point that every president going back to the beginning believes they're always being lied about, whether they are or not.
As I said, though, I could only take her answers so far, and most of the time my TV was on mute. But I have determined that this is a great way to watch Kellyanne Conway. On mute and fast-forward through her answers. When you see the reporter start to talk, stop the fast-forward at that point and listen to either the new question or follow-up, and then wait for the first few sentences from Ms. Conway until they start to go off into another direction or spin in on itself and she starts to implode.
And then she and Maddow shook hands. Because she was "civil." That's become our standard. I believe in civility. I also believe in honesty, decency, competence, helping others and more.
It's horrible. Truly horrible.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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