The folks who staff the Alternative Fact of the Week research desk are often asked how they can sort through seven days of misleading statements, falsehoods and cock-and-bull stories, particularly from an administration that has, according to our brethren at The Washington Post, produced 8,158 of them in two years. The trick to sussing out the truly monumental whoppers from the mere blatant untruths, dear readers, is to look for early patterns — spotting the proverbial butterfly wing flap that launches a Category 5 lie hurricane.
And, as it happens, our sharp-eyed crew may have spotted just such an event on Wednesday evening at 10:18 p.m. when President Donald Trump tweeted something truly remarkable — a reasonable, rational and, dare we say, presidential thought. “I will do the [State of the Union] Address when the [federal government] Shutdown is over. I am not looking for an....” the president wrote in a two-part post, “....alternative venue for the SOTU Address because there is no venue that can compete with the history, tradition and importance of the House Chamber. I look forward to giving a ‘great’ State of the Union Address in the near future!”
Say what you will about the current standoff in Washington (whether, for example, Mr. Trump had much choice given House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s dis-invitation to give the address in the U.S. House of Representatives), President Trump offered a grownup response. Rather than hold a pep rally somewhere or speak from the Oval Office or just stomp his feet, he took the rarely-used high road. Good on him. But, alas, that’s what less highly-trained individuals see. Our crack Alternative Fact team sees the beginnings of something much bigger. If the past is any guide, what’s about to happen will go something like this:
Day 2. President Trump’s decision is seen by right-wing talk radio types as a complete capitulation to the communist-left who dare to treat the government shutdown as a government shutdown. Trump aides start explaining that he didn’t actually say he wasn’t going to delay the State of the Union, then they change course and say the president was speaking only hypothetically. Later, Mr. Trump tells reporters that they should be ashamed of their “Fake News” reporting of recent events, like printing his actual words. Meanwhile, it comes out in The New York Times that an administration insider encouraged the tweet. He or she is hailed as competent.
Day 3. The president calls in to “Fox & Friends” to tell them he’s thinking about seizing the House chambers and forcing Speaker Pelosi to introduce him. What do they think? The hosts nod in approval. He also suggests that aide who recommended his tweet is an idiot and mocks the staffer as disloyal and not very bright.
Day 4. A CNN panel of veteran news correspondents concludes that the Trump administration needs more people like the “Hero of Twitter” to finally end the shutdown. A Trump spokesperson says the president is considering declaring the House chamber to be a national emergency. The aforementioned aide, who now is the subject of a tribute YouTube video with 16 million hits (with its pulse-pounding soundtrack of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”), is rumored to be on the chopping block.
Day 5. Rudy Giuliani says in an interview on MSNBC that the whole State of the Union decision should not be written on his tombstone. The interviewer asks him what he’s talking about. The subject turns to collusion, and Mr. Giuliani pretends his microphone is no longer working. Elsewhere, President Trump declares the “YouTube guy” the dumbest man who ever dumbed down his dumb White House.
Day 6. Aide quits. Working title of his planned tell-all book: “Fire the guy down the hall and sanity will soon fall.”
Day 7. White House issues a statement claiming the whole State of the Union is an invention of a hostile press. Announces plans to invite Democratic leaders to Mar-a-Lago to discuss ending the government shutdown while celebrating Groundhog Day. Sen. Chuck Schumer and Speaker Pelosi say they won't go until workers are paid. President tells reporters while heading to Marine One that they probably would have been paid by now if that aide he fired had done his job correctly.
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