By Bob Gaydos
You’ll have to pardon me here as I try to catch up on the news. Last I knew, the narcissist-in-chief (NIC) had just shown himself to be presidential by reading a speech (which he did not write) from a teleprompter for about an hour straight without veering off message, insulting any minority group or mentioning the size of his, uh, inauguration crowd.
A lot of people who call themselves journalists apparently thought this was evidence of a heretofore well-hidden capability to do presidential things.
With that reassurance that all was well with the republic, I busied myself with other, more pressing personal stuff: Reading; having dinner with my sons; wading through a mountain of unopened mail that had been gathering since I was involved in an accident; deciding whether my partner and I should have Chinese or Mexican takeout for dinner; looking for something to add to my Netflix queue while waiting for Denzel’s 2004 version of “The Manchurian Candidate” to become available; being impressed at how well the Sinatra version from 1962 has held up.
Then it got a little spooky. I heard that after his “presidential” reading, the NIC apparently went off message a few days later. Correct me if I’m wrong, but from what I’ve been able to piece together from all those alternative “news” sites on Facebook, some time late Saturday night, the NIC was wandering around the White House in his bathrobe when the phone rang. His cell phone, not THE phone. A voice on the other end that sounded remarkably like Steve Bannon channeling the NIC’s deceased mother suggested that to occupy his time, since Melania preferred to stay in New York, he should play his favorite game — Solitaire.
“Yes, mother,” the NIC obeyed and hung up.
Having stacked the deck with red queens, the trigger card, the voice called back a minute later and said, “Blame Obama.”
Again, “Yes, mother.”
And that’s apparently how we ended up with one president accusing his predecessor (on Twitter) of wiretapping his home phone. At least that’s the best I can piece together from news reports since no one has offered a scintilla of evidence of such a wiretap and the FBI director (the guy who clinched the election for the NIC) says it never happened. The White House ignored that response and a cadre of lawyers reportedly set out to find proof of what their master had tweeted.
Now, apparently, all those “journalists” who swooned over the State of the Union reading are what one might call non-plussed for having been suckered again by a performance. “Sir, what proof do you have of this dastardly deed by Mr. Obama?” they asked the NIC, who had none, of course. Never does.
No one apparently thought to ask, “Sir, since you’re the president and have the power, why don’t you just declassify the documents that prove you were wiretapped?’’
Well, because: (1.) If there really was an illegal wiretap (the president can’t order one), the guilty parties would have left no records.
(2.) If such records did exist, they would prove that a judge thought there was sufficient reason for the FBI to wiretap the NIC even before he took office and how embarrassing would that be?
But probably mostly (3.), because he didn’t know that the president couldn’t order a wiretap or that a president could declassify any document he chooses. Details are not the NIC’s strong point.
As I take it, you-know-who was so angry that no one — even Sean Spicer struggled to keep a straight face — believed him when he said Obama had his Trump Tower phones tapped — he kicked Bannon and Reince Priebus, his two top aides, off Air Force One when he flew to Florida for his regular weekend of presidential golfing.
Bannon, however, was smart enough, I gather, to pack a few stacked Solitaire decks in the NIC’s bags. Some time over the weekend, as he wandered the halls of Mar-a-Lago in his bathrobe, the phone rang again.
This time, THE phone, not his cell phone.
“How about a game of Solitaire, son?”
“Yes, mother.” Hang up.
Short pause. Red queen.
“Okay, now listen carefully, son. Last time I called you the damn cell phone dropped the call after I said, ‘Blame Obama’ and you made up some cockamamie story about him tapping your phone. What were you thinking? (Bannon’s voice getting a bit hoarse.) Blame Obama for that botched SEALS raid in Yemen, you ninny.”
And as far as I can tell, that’s how the NIC came to exploit the widow of a Navy SEAL who died in that raid during his State of the Union address, while at the same time blaming his predecessor and his generals for the failure of the mission. How’s that for presidential?
I can’t wait for Denzel’s “Manchurian Candidate” to arrive in the mail. Hope it’s as good as Sinatra’s.