For those of us who have had misgivings about the authenticity and the audacity of the Trump presidency from the beginning, there has been a certain delight in observing the missteps of a team easily described as "dumb and dumber."
Even if you are not a devotee of "Saturday Night Live," you can hardly escape weekly recaps of Alec Baldwin's withering mimicry of President Donald Trump and Melissa McCarthy's vivisections of his chief spokesman, Sean Spicer. Their skits are ripped from the headlines, spot-on — and hilarious.
The president was especially generous with laughable lines last week with his huge flip-flops on China, Russia and NATO, among other things. He was eager to regale Fox News business correspondent Maria Bartiromo with tales from his momentous dinner with Chinese president Xi Jinping, where they shared "the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you've ever seen" while he was simultaneously coordinating a cruise missile attack some 6,500 miles away from the so-called Florida White House in Palm Beach. In fact, Mr. Trump was so bursting with swagger that he momentarily forgot which of those pesky places he'd bombed. "So what happens is I said, 'We've just launched 59 missiles heading to Iraq," he recounted. Oops! As we all know, that attack took place in Syria, not Iraq.
Chalk that up to the latest in 90 days of gaffes by a president who is great like Tony the Tiger, full of absolutes and superlatives. "It's so incredible. It's brilliant. It's genius," he told Ms. Bartiromo.
Speaking of Syria, Mr. Trump's chief spokesman regularly misspeaks when he tries to say the name of Syria's president, Bashar Assad. Butchering the name of Syria's genocidal butcher-in-chief is just one example of what the Washington Post's Dana Milbank refers to as "Spicer's brazen assault on spoken English." GQ magazine has even produced a video of Spicerisms!
"Isn't it rich? ... Don't you love farce?" the comedy writers, meme creators and social media satirists must sing as they channel Stephen Sondheim when the Trumpsters gift them with easy punch lines. The president thinks Frederick Douglass is alive. His education secretary, Betsy DeVos, thinks historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are icons of the school choice movement. His housing and urban development secretary, Dr. Ben Carson, thinks enslaved blacks were just another bunch of immigrants. And Mr. Spicer's grasp of history competes with his eloquence.
After Mr. Assad assaulted fellow Syrians with sarin gas, killing at least 80 children and precipitating the American airstrike, Mr. Spicer noted at a news briefing: "You know, you had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn't even sink to using chemical weapons." Oops! He conveniently overlooked the extermination of 6 million Jews in gas chambers and death camps, which Mr. Spicer referred to as "Holocaust centers."
So it has gone since January. Dismissing the Trumpsters as dumb and dumber, however, overlooks just how unfunny and dangerous these times have become. That is especially so as the president revels in accolades he's received not just for the airstrike at a Syrian military base but also for dropping what has been called "the mother of all bombs" in Afghan mountains to kill nearly 100 ISIS soldiers and take out weapons stockpiles in underground tunnels.
Emboldened, he now lobs tough talk at his equally insecure North Korea nemesis Kim Jong-un, who enjoys military toys as much as Mr. Trump. Vice President Mike Pence, waving the flag on his current Asia trip, has warned that "the era of strategic patience is over" and pointedly urges all doubters — read: Mr. Kim — to take note of Mr. Trump's actions in Syria and Afghanistan.
Here at home, as we laugh ourselves to death, the Trump team is defunding, decommissioning, dismantling, delaying — destroying — programs that address everything from schools to housing to health care. Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to discard carefully negotiated consent decrees that outline plans for much-needed reform in police departments like Baltimore's.
In their vision of a great America, we would return to the Cold War and life as depicted in Beaver's Mayfield, Donna Reed's Hilldale and Andy's Mayberry. In those days best left to reruns on nostalgia TV channels, people of color were subservient and all but invisible; white men knew best; white women wore pearls while doing housework; and mischievous white kids were cute menaces a la Dennis.
If we let the Trumpsters get away with this, then the joke surely is on us.
E.R. Shipp, a Pulitzer Prize winner for commentary, is the journalist in residence at Morgan State University's School of Global Journalism and Communication. Her column runs every other Wednesday. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.