I awoke the next morning to “76 Trombones” being mangled by the Florida Gators marching band. At first I thought it must be some symptom of the evil morning, horrendously amplifying the pounding and blaring of an alarm clock I’d not yet managed to smash with my hammer. But stumbling toward the glowing window, not unlike a fawn headed fearfully toward the new world of self-ambulation, I pulled the valance back just enough for one eye to see past its polyester radiance, and found that the Administration had brought in the full band, now strewn across the East Hill for our listening enjoyment. This necessarily meant that the Leader had some big item planned for the Daily Press Briefing, (and/or some terrible erroneous act for which the Administration needed full cover). Any day that they had something big to announce the Administration would break out the full fanfare. Who could forget the ‘Masters of Illusion’ Magic Show the night the first Saudi Arabian air raid began? What might today’s big news be?
#ThirdShiftTwitter was abuzz the night before with all kinds of rumors but I had spent half the night thumbing through my (now illegal) collection of comic books and hadn’t quite kept pace with the gossip. Some were mentioning a new Executive Order focused on “law and order”, some were saying the Administration were finally going to make an official announcement about The Swamp’s new South Wing construction, presently nicknamed “Crocodile Alley” by the press pool who had been emptily reporting on it every day for at least a month. NBC nearly caught footage of what appeared to be a mob deal during the beams and girders phase but instead aired a 22-minute piece on the process of pouring cement. As for the morning’s big news, I had long ago surrendered any notion of predicting the movements of this debaucherous steam engine.
Every morning at The Swamp the press corps is served a pancake breakfast. The food is terrible, stale and without flavor, and the pancakes have too much water added. There’s a standee of the Leader by the syrup counter with a smarmy smile and the slogan,
“Make your Pancakes Sweet Again (Buy American Syrup)”
I often would sleep too late and miss this culinary disaster but on this day, thanks to the freshman corps (clearly) of tubists and trumpeters, I managed to stumble into the Swamp cafeteria as the brushed-up journalistic bon vivants were herding out to watch the performance(s).
I had gotten into the habit of bringing my own coffee everywhere. Since the Leader had initiated a trade war with the entire continent of South America, the South Korean coffee they served in most government establishments was absolute shit. Also I could add the proper “artificial sweeteners” necessary for covering the Swamp right off the bat.
As I strolled toward the pancake station, the chef simply ashed his cigarette and shook me off, seeming to say that the feeding time at the trough had concluded. I was picking through the remnants of the “fresh fruit” basket when a Times reporter made mention of my road-worn travel mug and its contents, which had apparently been the subject of some speculation.
“Whatsa matter, got no love for the Seoul beans? Or maybe you got a little something extra in there?”
At this he threw back his coiffed white hair mane and chortled loudly, drew a small Xanax bottle from inside his jacket, and gave it a little shake.
Unsure how to respond, I gave my coffee mug a similar shake, splashing a gulp onto the orange linoleum, and offer him a sip.
“But I wouldn’t take too much, man, this hippie might be on some trippy shit”.
The smile heartily dropped from his face as he rejoined a stream of phone-clutching minnows flowing out the cafeteria door.
The Press Briefing took place every day on the rolling green hill visible from the windows on the entire East Wing of The Swamp. It didn’t make for a very inspiring background, to be honest, though the golf course and water fountain behind did seem to glow in a fat and garish sort of way. On the hill and over the spokesperson’s left shoulder The Leader’s Estate could be seen while opposite on the hill, though you could frame it out for the newscast depending on your network’s angle, the golf course’s reactor billowed smoke into the Florida air.
Though you could easily watch the daily Briefing from any room in the East Wing, due to the floor-to-ceiling windows, it also played live in IMAX in the Entertainment Suite, mostly so that one-line interpretations and “breaking news” alerts could be added for public consumption. One wouldn’t want the Leader’s words administered straight without the Administration’s communication department first being able to apply the necessary spin, now would one? Eventually, in a move of efficiency rarely seen by the Leader and co, these scrolling news add-ons were simply added to the spokesperson’s podium.
In addition to his big news, the Leader’s spokesperson hit the Press Briefing Bingo that day, employing at least five of the eight rhetorical devices for which the Administration had become famous:
denial, misdirection, obfuscation, questioning reality, hypocrisy, outright lies, talking out of both sides of your mouth, and tautology.
The Huffington Post ran a series where the briefings were scored like poker hands or Yahtzee – misdirection, obfuscation, and an outright lie would be considered a small straight, for example, while three denials, and two tautologies was a full house (and a strong one, at that). HuffPo was quite ahead of their time when it came to conversational sabermetrics.
Originally, the Leader had tried to deliver the daily press briefings himself and failed miserably. Nasty words and spittle were exchanged, furniture was thrown, a writer for The Guardian was on crutches for two weeks. It was not a pleasant event. But since that time, the press briefing announcer would play coy with the reporters, pausing just slightly, enough to give them apprehension as he said:
“Ladies and gentlemen, the Leader of the United States’… information secretary slash spokesperson.”
The spokesperson was a small, round man named Richard, with big glasses and small, beady eyes. His tie was too short and always crooked, and the strained, aggressive tone in his voice made us all believe he was one bad Tuesday away from congestive heart failure.
After the normal schedule updates and daily “Stock Ticket Shout-Outs” to the titans of industry loyal to the Administration, we learned that day’s big announcement concerned a new profit venture of which the Leader was very proud. It seems he had recently been informed about a trove of military gear from which the armed forces had upgraded. Old tanks and helicopters, large caliber weapons, and various high-grade explosives that were once rented to local police departments under the now-defunct 1033 program were now taking up space in government warehouses and the Leader saw this as a “great, preposterous tragedy”.
“The Leader sees an enormous profit opportunity for the American taxpayer and with EO911X we will look to possibly raise billions by getting this lawful equipment into the hands of good, (white), freedom-loving patriots. Beginning tomorrow, this equipment will be available for purchase exclusively through our online marketplace, free from the tyranny of the 3-day background check.”
Little Dick (as the #fakenews had been calling him), despite his other faults, knew the value of a frenetic pace of information and kept the briefing rolling on, while the website address for weapons purchase scrolled across tv screens and the press podium.
It had become a regular occurrence for the Administration to call into question the results of the election they had won, mostly to lay a foundation of doubt for any future elections they might lose (#QuestioningReality).
“The Administration has nearly completed the preparations for the formation of a special councel [sic] to investigate the between 4 and 7 million illegal votes, many by persons not of this continent, positively known by any who know anything to have unfairly disrupted the election in favor of our crooked and un-American opponent.
Furthermore, the contingent of our populace that deny this illegal voting ever even took place seems, quite alarmingly, to be growing by the day and only serves to highlight just how broken and corrupted our government has become. (Tautology?) It is the view of this Administration that such traitors should be barred from sullying any future elections with their participation, aiming to illicitly install their own leaders with foundationally un-American views and interests.
Finally, I have an official statement and then I will take some of your questions:
‘The Leader’s words, on social media or elsewhere, should not be taken as literal words. They should be viewed as symbols, for words and ideas, sometimes metaphors, that should obviously and with good reason, be allowed to change later.’
With this in mind, I think the Leader’s tweets stand for themselves.
In addition, some of you have asked in recent weeks about discrepancies between the Leader’s tweets and my statements from this podium. This is, frankly, offensive as it ignores the basic fact of how active and robust our Leader is. The busy schedule he keeps doesn’t necessarily allow for me or others of his representatives to represent his views with the most up-to-date and some might say “accurate” information. This Leader is a mover and a shaker and, as I’ve said numerous times before, he doesn’t like to telegraph his moves by telling me or (m)any members of his staff. Hell, to protect our national security, he often doesn’t like to even consider important decisions too far in advance for fear that he himself might give away his next move. This is 4d chess people, try to keep up. You know what the fourth dimension is? Backgammon.
And I don’t know how much clearer we can be on this.”
At this the Swamp press pool looked around at each other, searching for faint glimmers of rational thought. Each found none, each said nothing, and simply moved on to clawing each other down like infant pterodactyls at feeding time.
“Dick, over here! Dick, me first.. Dick! Dick!….”