Tag Archives: Sarah Huckabee Sanders

WH press flack redefines rhetorical elusiveness

I am going to offer a tip of the hat — sort of — to Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

The White House press secretary is either (a) exceedingly quick on her feet or (b) gets a thorough briefing from other West Wing staffers on how to answer direct questions.

Sanders got a question today about Donald J. Trump’s answer when he was asked by a reporter whether he still thought Russia posed a threat to our electoral system, as it did in attacking it during the 2016 presidential election.

The president said “no.” He said Russia did not pose a threat.

Sanders got the question at the White House press briefing: Did the president really mean to say Russia was not trying to interfere in our midterm election?

She said the “no” response to the question was the president’s way of saying “no more questions” from the media.

Isn’t that clever? Slick? Cagey?

It’s also untrue.

Sanders trotted out that amazing response to chief of staff John Kelly’s visible body language while Trump — at the NATO meeting in Brussels — was scolding the Germans over their supposedly being under the “total control” of Russia. A reporter asked her about Kelly’s reaction. She said he was angry because he wanted a full breakfast, but instead got only “pastry and cheese.”

That, dear reader, is hilarious.

Except that I ain’t laughing. Neither should you. It’s deceptive. She’s lying for her boss.

WH chief of staff angry over breakfast menu? Wow!

Sarah Huckabee Sanders has just notched my all-time favorite lame response from the White House press office.

It’s a beaut, man!

White House chief of staff John Kelly was seen grimacing, looking at the floor and fidgeting while sitting two seats away from the president, who was lambasting Germany over what Donald Trump contended was Russia’s total control over our strategic ally.

The person next to Kelly, U.S. North Atlantic Treaty Organization ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison — the former U.S. senator from Texas — was seen looking around as if to suggest she’d rather be anywhere other than where she was at the moment.

As the New York Daily News reported: As Trump laid into Germany, Kelly pursed his lips, looked down and appeared generally uncomfortable. Kelly seemed particularly unsettled when Trump made the “captive” comment, firmly pressing his lips together and staring off into the distance.

Someone then asked Sanders about Kelly’s apparently visceral response, that some had interpreted as extreme discomfort over what he was hearing from the president.

Sanders’s response? She said Kelly “was displeased because he was expecting a full breakfast and there were only pastries and cheese.”

Isn’t that a great retort? Doesn’t that qualify for entry into the press secretaries’ hall of shame for lame responses?

It’s got my vote. To be candid, I thought Sanders’s response to the question was quite, um, creative.

Stand tall, Sarah.

They work for us, however …

A woman confronted Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt yesterday while Pruitt was having a meal in a restaurant.

Kristin Mink teaches school in Washington, D.C., and said she had a “civil” discussion with Pruitt about EPA policies, which she says hurts her children.

“We deserve to have somebody at the EPA who actually does protect our environment, someone who believes in climate change and takes it seriously for the benefit of all us, including our children,” Mink said, “I would urge you to resign before your scandals push you out.”

OK. Maybe it’s just me, but I happen to shrink from this kind of confrontation of public officials in that context. Do I detest the policies that Pruitt is enacting at EPA? Yes. Do I also detest the policies coming from the Oval Office? Again, yes.

This whole issue has come to the fore in recent days ever since White House press flack Sarah Hucakabee Sanders was asked to leave a restaurant. Then came U.S. Rep. Maxine Water, D-Calif., who has declared that it’s OK to harass Trump administration officials even when they’re on their own time with their own families.

Whoa! Again, I disagree.

Kristin Mink makes a valid point, which is that Pruitt and, indeed, Donald J. Trump all work for us. They are our employees. They owe it to us to be accountable for their actions and we have every right to confront them whenever we damn well feel like it, or so the belief goes.

I just don’t like the idea of confronting these individuals in that manner. I certainly understand that they work for me — and you! There happen to be plenty of ways to hold them accountable. I try to do that with this blog, for instance. You can write them. You can call their staffs and bitch at them.

Or … you can vote for officials who will select people to administer public policy more to your preference.

I’ve confronted a (former) public official only once in my life. It was early 1996. I was walking along a street in Washington, D.C., when I encountered former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, who had just published a memoir in which he acknowledged that he knew as early as 1962 that the Vietnam War was a lost cause.

Well, I was one of the millions of young men who served for a time in that war. So … I told McNamara how angry I was to learn that my country sent me into harm’s way to participate in a war the former defense boss believed could not be won.

He thanked me for my comments. I thanked him for coming clean — finally! — and we parted ways. It was just him and me. McNamara is now deceased, so I’m the only party who can speak to what occurred that day in Washington.

I didn’t consider it in the moment to be a form of “harassment.” I do consider it harassment when you berate a public official who’s seeking to enjoy some private time.

At least they understand, however, that they work for us.

Here we go again with the insults

Donald J. Trump is at it again. A lawmaker criticizes him and his followers and he responds with … insults.

The target is a familiar one: U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, a Democrat from California.

Waters flew off the rails over the weekend with a rant that called for harassing Trump administration officials, even when they are trying to enjoy an outing with their families. White House press aide Sarah Huckabee Sanders, for instance, was asked to leave a Lexington, Va., restaurant by the owner who polled her employees.

Trump’s response was to refer to Waters as “low IQ Maxine.” He warned her to “be careful what you wish for, Max.”

Hey, Waters was wrong to blurt out that ridiculous rant. Trump, though, cannot find it within himself to keep the discussion civil and dignified. He has returned to the insult gambit that plays oh, so well with his political base.

Donald Trump isn’t acting very “presidented.”

Settle down, Rep. Waters

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters needs to settle down.

The California Democrat needs to develop a sense of decorum and decency in this overheated political climate. I know it’s hard, but it can be done.

She said the following Saturday at a rally. She was commenting on White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders being asked to leave a Virginia restaurant because Huckabee works for Donald J. Trump:

“For these members of his Cabinet who remain and try to defend him, they’re not going to be able to go to a restaurant, they’re not going to be able to stop at a gas station, they’re not going to be able to shop at a department store, the people are going to turn on them, they’re going to protest, they’re going to absolutely harass them until they decide that they’re going to tell the president ‘No, I can’t hang with you, this is wrong, this is unconscionable and we can’t keep doing this to children.'”

Waters is inciting potentially harmful — if not dangerous — confrontations.

She is angry over the president’s policy that took children from their parents at the southern border. I share her anger. It’s an outrageous effort to demonize illegal immigrants. It is punishing children because of something their parents have done.

The White House press secretary does not deserve to be hassled, harassed or hectored while she is in a public place with her family. Yes, Waters has walked back her comment just a bit. She says protest is a “democratic” process as long as it is peaceful. Fine. Protest in all sorts of ways.

However, the idea that she would encourage such confrontation of other Trump administration officials only inflames passion, drives deeper divisions between factions and creates even more hard feelings than those that exist already.

The president himself has shown himself to be the master of division and discord. There is no need to mimic what he has done to sow the seeds of anger among Americans.

Hassling officials from the administration while they are off the clock is no way to unite the nation.

Look inward, Rep. Waters

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters needs to ask herself a critical question.

How would she react if someone were to approach her in a public place and began berating her over some statement she made? She wouldn’t like it one damn bit.

Thus, why in the world does the California Democrat believe it’s all right for anyone associated with the Trump administration to except — and possibly accept — similar treatment by Americans who are upset with the president’s policies.

Waters made that ridiculous assertion recently in the wake of White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s experience at a Lexington, Va., eating establishment. The owners of the eatery asked Sanders to leave, expecting that she might be harassed by other patrons. Sanders got up and left the Red Hen restaurant.

The incident has provoked a partisan fight.

In reality, Rep. Waters is flat wrong to suggest that Trump administration senior staffers should have to expect such treatment.

As The Hill reported: “The people are going to turn on them, they’re going to protest, they’re going to absolutely harass them until they decide that they’re going to tell the president, ‘No, I can’t hang with you, this is wrong, this is unconscionable and we can’t keep doing this to children,’” Waters said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has called it correctly. He labeled such a point of view as “un-American.” Again, from The Hill:

“I strongly disagree with those who advocate harassing folks if they don’t agree with you. …No one should call for the harassment of political opponents. That’s not right. That’s not American,” Schumer said from the Senate floor.

Schumer added that he understands the “frustrations” some members of his party feel when Trump “complains about bullying [and] harassment” even though the president uses it “as a regular tool almost every day.”

“But the president’s tactics and behavior should never be emulated. It should be repudiated by organized, well-informed and passionate advocacy. As Michelle Obama, a person who represents the same kind of fineness that we’ve always had in America … said, ‘When they go low, we go high,’” Schumer said. 

Think of the Golden Rule, Rep. Waters, and ponder whether you would like to be treated in a way you would treat others.

‘Democrat’ is a noun, not an adjective

Why do conservatives — chiefly Republicans — continue to use the term “Democrat” in a way that some listeners, such as me, find vaguely insulting?

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders today has used the term “Democrat” as an adjective. She refers to “Democrat members of Congress” who, of course, do things that Republicans dislike.

OK, this can be seen as a silly point. I don’t see it that way.

Republicans began using “Democrat” as an adjective when Republican U.S. Rep. Newt Gingrich launched the Contact With American campaign to take control of Congress in 1994.

They ceased referring to members of the other party as being “Democratic” lawmakers. They say “Democrat” because it’s jarring to the ear in ways that are a bit difficult to explain. Plus, they no doubt view their colleagues on the other side as anything but “democratic” in their world view.

Thus, this new use of a long-standing word has taken root. It’s deeper than ever in this divisive period in our political history.

And, oh yes. It still rankles me.

WH upset with leak more than crass comment?

There you have it. The White House press office is angrier that a crass and tasteless remark by a staffer about an ailing U.S. senator/war hero was leaked than it is about the remark itself.

That’s how I read press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s reported response to the remark.

White House aide Kelly Sadler said in a private meeting that no one should worry about Sen. John McCain’s opinion of CIA director nominee Gina Haspel because “he’s dying anyway.” McCain doesn’t like Haspel’s role in the U.S. campaign of “intense interrogation”; he calls it torture and given his own experience being tortured as a prisoner during the Vietnam War, he hates the idea. Haspel didn’t disavow the interrogation tactics to McCain’s liking and he said so.

That’s when Sadler popped off about McCain’s battle against brain cancer.

Sanders said Sadler’s remarks are “unacceptable” but then reportedly scolded the White House staff for leaking the remark in the first place.

A more appropriate topic to be discussed with White House staffers would be that (a) they are public employees answerable to the taxpayers and that (b) they need to be mindful of all the things they say, even in private.

If a chump like Sadler believes Sen. McCain is “dying anyway,” she is entitled to think those thoughts privately. Many of us out here beyond the Beltway disagree vehemently with her saying it out loud, even in a room full of other White House employees behind closed doors.

I get that Sen. McCain is an imperfect man. He was a rascal while attending the U.S. Naval Academy. He was known during his time as an aviator to be occasionally not play by every rule in the book. But then he got shot down in 1967 and endured more pain, suffering, anguish and heartache than any man should endure during his more than five years as a POW in North Vietnam.

Now he is fighting for his life. He has served with honor and distinction in service to his country for decades.

So, the White House press flack is concerned about the leaks? She should be many times more concerned that a White House staffer has a serious insensitivity streak that needs urgent repair. If she can’t control her mouth, then she needs to find another job.

How does she do her job?

“We give the very best information that we have at the time.”

So said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in response to a question about her boss, Donald Trump, and his “blatant disregard for the truth.”

The issue of the day deals with Trump’s repayment of hush money to porn queen Stormy Daniels. Trump has denied making the payment to his lawyer, Michael Cohen, who forked over the money to Daniels in the first place; Sanders has parroted the president’s denial.

Now all of that has been tossed aside.

I’ll stipulate once again that I have been no fan of Sanders’s conduct as White House press flack. However, truth be told (no pun intended), she is being asked to do the impossible. She cannot speak the truth because she is not given the truth up front from the president or those who comprise his inner circle.

According to Politico: Not just in Thursday’s briefing, but overall, “the best information we have at the time” has become something of a go-to line for Sanders — her version of apparently throwing up her arms in the face of a president who has proved not only impulsive and prone to changing his mind, but who has exhibited an unprecedented propensity for falsehoods. As his official spokesperson, Sanders’ performance in Tuesday’s briefing left some reporters further questioning not just the president’s credibility, but also that of his press secretary and the entire White House.

I won’t go nearly so far as to express sympathy for Sanders. She surely had to know what she was buying into when she replaces Sean Spicer as White House press secretary. It well might be that Spicer warned her up front: Be careful, Sarah; the boss can’t tell the truth … about anything!

I hate believing that Sanders is a willing participant in the president’s penchant for prevarication. Her willingness to remain at her post, though, seems to give critics such as yours truly little choice to believe the worst in the White House press secretary.

Being ‘not aware of plan’ is no reason for comfort

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says she is “not aware” of any plans for Donald Trump to fire special counsel Robert Mueller and/or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

I have to ask: Are we supposed to take that to the bank?

The president operates on a sort of chaotic system of strategy and tactics. He doesn’t tell those ostensibly closest to him anything in advance, or so it appears.

For Sanders to say she is “not aware” of the president’s plans gives me zero assurance that the man for whom she works is going to avoid doing something profoundly stupid.

Firing the special counsel would send Congress into pure apoplexy. Republicans and Democrats alike are urging Trump to let Mueller do his job, which is to get to the bottom of the Russia collusion issue that has dogged Trump since Day One of his presidency.

Trump reportedly has let it be known that he believes he has the authority to fire Mueller, even though he was appointed by Rosenstein.

Which brings me to the other point, which is that firing Rosenstein would be equally apoplectic for members of Congress.

I guess it’s good to remind y’all that Mueller is a Republican; Rosenstein is, too. And, oh yes, Donald Trump was elected as a Republican.

Yet the president keeps yapping “all those Democrats” who insist on the Mueller investigation continuing.

So, will the president let the special counsel and the deputy AG do their jobs? Will wisdom overcome this impetuous individual who seems incapable of listening to wise men and women who know more about government than he ever thought of knowing?

As for the press secretary telling the nation that she is “not aware” of any foolish actions coming up … well, stay tuned, Sarah. You’ll likely find out right along with the rest of us.