Monday, February 20, 2017

“I’m Going to Have to Wear That Phrase Like Sackcloth”

“Kellyanne, good gracious!  What’s wrong with you, honey, you look terrible!”

“Please, I don’t need to hear that.  I already know.  I’ve been having trouble sleeping, and I get up in the morning exhausted. Everybody at work is going non-stop, and it makes me look like a slacker to take time off, but I had to take a break.”

“What’s the matter, sweetie?  What is it?  Are you ... you and George aren’t having problems, are you?”

“No, no, nothing like that.  George and I are fine.  He’s been great.  It’s... it’s my job.”

“Oh, we’ve been so proud of you, Kellyanne.  You were always such a hard worker.  Picking blueberries all those summers.  We knew you’d make something of yourself.  And you have.  First the president’s campaign manager and now Counselor to the President!”

Awkwardly:  “That’s the problem, really.  I’m not proud of myself anymore.”

“Why in the world not?  You’ve worked hard for everything you’ve got.  You’re an American success story, honey.  You earned a law degree, you started your own polling business, and now you’re working in the Oval Office!”

Eyes turning downward, her voice quivering:  “Right.  And I felt good about those things and about myself.  But now, every day, I have to go on TV and lie in front of millions of people.  I cringe.  I toss and turn for hours every night wondering what stupid lie I’m going to have to go out and defend the next day.”

“What are you saying, Kellyanne?”

“Oh, I shouldn’t be telling you these things, but you’ve always been there for me.  Please don’t repeat this to anybody.”

“You know you can depend on me, Kellyanne.  What is it, child?”  

“He just makes things up, he contradicts himself, he exaggerates so much that he’s like a three-year-old.  It was sort of fun for a while.  It was lively and different from all those canned speeches and scripted talking points, you know?   But he can’t help himself; it’s like a disease.  He lies nonstop.”

“Well that’s his problem, isn’t it?”

“That’s not how it works.  I’m his spokesperson.  What am I supposed to do when he claims he had the biggest inauguration crowd ever and there are all these photos that show huge empty spaces on the Mall?  When he claims thousands of people were bused from Massachusetts to vote in New Hampshire illegally, but there’s zero evidence to support that claim?  When he says that he’ll release his tax returns when the audit is completed, and then after the election says he won’t release them?  When he says that Mexico will pay for the wall and then it turns out we’re going to pay for the wall?  He lies about important stuff and he lies about trivia!  And then I have to go on TV and double down on the lies.”

Sympathetically.  “Have you been going to confession, Kellyanne?  Don’t you think it would help to unburden yourself and do an act of contrition?”

“I’ve thought of it, but I’ve been avoiding it.  What am I going to say?  That I know I’m sinning, but I’m going to keep on doing it because that’s basically what my job consists of?  That I go out and lie, day after day, in order to defend a president who lies, day after day?”

“Come on, Kellyanne, this isn’t like you.  Buck up.  You can figure your way out of this.  You were Phi Beta Kappa in college!”

“Don’t remind me.  When I came up with that phrase ‘alternative facts,‘ I thought it was clever.  Now it just sounds idiotic.  When people hear my name, that’s what they think of--that cheesy way to recast a lie.   I’m going to have to wear that phrase like sackcloth for the rest of my life.  Then there was that horrible ‘Bowling Green massacre’ fiasco.  And that Fatal Attraction skit on Saturday Night Live to top things off.” 

“I saw a clip of that, Kellyanne.  I thought it was mean.  You’re nothing like that woman.”

“It stung.  But the bottom-line is, it’s true.”

“What do you mean it’s true?  You’d never go after somebody with a knife.  Don’t be silly.”

“Of course I wouldn’t attack anybody with a knife.  But I’ve been acting just as crazy as Glenn Close in the film.  I’m attached to this man who uses me but would drop me like a red-hot horseshoe if it suited him.  I’m sick enough to go out and humiliate myself time and time again, for his sake, when I don’t mean anything to him.” 

“Is it really that bad?”

“It’s worse.  Have you been watching when I go on TV news shows now?  I’m a laughing stock!  I start to offer some explanation for the latest whopper from the White House and TV hosts just cut me off.  Or giggle uncontrollably.  Do you know how embarrassing that is—to have some veteran TV person unable to stop giggling because what you’ve said is so ridiculous?  I’ve even been banned from Morning Joe—Morning Joe, for crying out loud—because of my ‘propensity to bring forth falsehoods on multiple occasions’.” 

“Oh sweetie, that must really hurt.”

“I’m starting to go numb.  When somebody acts as if what I’ve just said is nonsense, I don’t even have a comeback.  I catch myself staring at them for a minute like ‘Don’t make me do this again, will you not?  Please?’”

“Kellyanne, it sounds as if you hit rock bottom when you reached the top.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s like that monkey trap, where the monkey sticks her hand through a hole to grab a banana and then traps herself because she won’t let go.  Maybe you need to start asking yourself what your success is worth.”

© Tony Russell, 2017


Anonymous said...

This is probably very close to reality. But the real problem may be that so much of America feels victimized by the politicians in both parties, that truth isn't that important anymore, as long as it feels right

Tony Russell said...

You may be correct. I'm just not ready to buy into labeling us a "post-truth" society. That may be a fair description of our political swamp and the moral dereliction of our business and industry sectors, but I think a major factor in people's frustration is their profound awareness of how frequently we're lied to.