6 Cringe-Inducing Moments From Trump's First Week You Might Have Missed
Amid the mounting horrors of Donald Trump’s first week in office was a stunning amount of boneheaded ridiculousness. The president's executive order banning Muslims and refugees from seven countries rivals Japanese-American internment camps for racism and spurred mass protests at airports Saturday. Mixed with this cruelty was Trump's ongoing tantrum about his inauguration crowd size and his popular vote loss. He and his puppeteer, Steve Bannon, declared the media the opposition party and picked an absurd fight with Mexico that Trump deservedly lost.
Deplorable firsts this week included a sitting vice president attending an anti-abortion rally, a president muzzling the agency designed to protect Americans from environmental toxins, Trump’s assertion that torture works against all known evidence, and a deliberate attempt to use his august office to perpetuate the debunked racist myth of mass voter fraud.
Some of the horror was downright laughable, like Kellyanne Conway’s Orwellian coinage of “alternative facts,” Sean Spicer’s (and apparently Trump’s) murky understanding of how tariffs actually work, and the president’s apparent belief that aerial photography, when it comes to the size of his inauguration crowd, is somehow unreliable.
One thing abundantly clear after this hellish week is that contrary to his assertions, the doofus-in-chief is not, “like, really smart.” Like, not really at all.
Here are a few of the lesser reported idiocies and outright evils perpetrated by the Trump White House this week.
1. Trump further blurred the line between the White House and his family business.
The flurry of theatrically signed executive orders and endless stream of moronic tweets issuing from the Oval Office probably managed to distract everybody from the fact that Trump’s conflicts of interest are unprecedented for a U.S. president. He has not remotely divested from his companies, is on course to profit richly from his office, and has little interest in understanding the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.
In yet another sign that the White House is now an extension of the Trump Organization, the newly revamped White House website briefly promoted First Lady Melania Trump’s jewelry line and modeling career. And by the way, you can purchase her products on QVC, the White House website helpfully informed visitors. According to the Washington Post, “It is not uncommon for the White House to note the accomplishments of the first lady in her official biography, but Trump’s decision to include a detailed list of her media appearances and branded retail goods is unusual.”
Somehow, the powers that be got the message that this advertising was more than a tad inappropriate, and the mention of QVC was removed by Friday.
This is the same Whitehouse.gov that was immediately purged of all mention of LGBT rights, civil rights, climate change, and services for Spanish-speaking Americans, obviously to make room for more important matters.
2. He obsessed over the size of his inaugural crowd to a mind-bogglingly absurd degree.
The things Donald Trump has time for are truly stunning. A good portion of his first week in office was spent in a dogged quest to prove the fiction that his inauguration audience surpassed (or even rivaled) that of Barack Obama's. He dispatched spokes-twerp Sean Spicer to assert an outright falsehood about his crowd size on day one, and called the head of the National Park Service to harangue him for tweeting the unflattering side-by-side (but accurate) comparison of the two inaugural crowds.
On Wednesday, his first major presidential interview aired on ABC. It was an absurd and idiotic boast-fest, in which Trump talked about the “bigness” of his new job, and the bigness of his inauguration. He spent an inordinate amount of time showing pictures he had enlarged, framed and hung on walls showing his inauguration from an angle that suggested the crowd was larger than the whole world already knew it was. It was flat-out insane.
ABC’s David Muir asked Trump about his other big lie, the one about all the voter fraud he’s been claiming happened. Trump doubled down on what would become his theme later in the week, and stated unironically, “I will say this, of those votes cast, none of 'em come to me. None of 'em come to me. They would all be for the other side. None of 'em come to me.”
There is just no universe in which these “alternative facts” are true.
3. He appointed two 20-something right-wing nutjobs to head up Voice of America.
Trump and his chief propagandist Steve Bannon clearly plan to use every tool in their arsenal to spread their vicious, xenophobic propaganda around the country and the world. This week, Rachel Maddow highlighted the fact that immediately after Trump’s election, the Republican-dominated Congress sneakily turned the once non-partisan State Department broadcasting outlet, Voice of America, into yet another tool of his presidency. “Isn’t that interesting?” Maddow noted.
Two crackpot, 20-something campaign operatives were named the CEOs of Voice of America. One, Matthew Schuck, is a former blogger for the insane right-wing site, the Daily Surge. The other, Matthew Ciepielowski, moved to New Hampshire to be part of the Utopian Experiment, a libertarian paradise that was going to secede from the country. Or something. Their first assignment, of course, was to spread more misinformation a la Spicer about the inaugural crowd size.
No doubt they were Bannon’s picks, since he has now openly declared that the media should "shut up," is the opposition party, and should just listen to the president.
It’s worth quoting Maddow at length to convey how truly frightening this is:
It's one thing for them to call it an "alternative fact" when the White House presents a blatant lie to the American public. It is another thing for them to overtly try to build in a dedicated way with the resources of the federal government an alternative factual universe for their supporters to live in and we count on the political opposition and we count on the free media to sort out lies from truth in this country, particularly when there are lies told by people in power. But these guys really do also now have the opportunity to build their own media in a way that no president has ever been able to do so before. No president has ever been able to use the resources the U.S. government to have broadcasting resources like that at his or her disposal. But they've done it now and they've already installed their people in the corner office.
4. He showed a fourth-grade understanding of human rights, children's rights and women's rights. What, no spanking?
In the New York Times' disturbing report on Trump's chaotic first week, we learned that the Trump team drafted an executive order to review almost every international treaty in case he might want to pull out of them. The preamble to this draft order is full of conservative talking points and a middle schooler's understanding of how the world works.
Per the Times, the preamble explains that these mean old treaties are “used to force countries to adhere to often radical agendas.” Radical agendas apparently include human rights. "As justification," the Times writes, " it pointed to two United Nations treaties about children’s rights and ending discrimination against women, stating they have been interpreted as prohibiting spanking and Mother’s Day — echoing concerns raised by cultural conservatives."
Needless to say, prohibiting spanking and Mother's Day are a child-like interpretation of what the treaties say, and these are not the concerns of any sane person.
5. He proved on the world stage that he really does not get the whole free press thing.
In a cringe-worthy joint press conference with British leader Theresa May, Trump was asked a clear-eyed series of questions by a British reporter.
"Mr. President, you've said before that torture works; you've praised Russia; you've said you want to ban some Muslims from coming to America; you've suggested there should be punishment for abortion," she began. "For many people in Britain, those sound like alarming beliefs. What do you say to our viewers at home who are worried about some of your views and worried about you becoming the leader of the free world?"
The clown president did not answer, of course. He dodged the question completely and cracked a joke that unconsciously revealed his demented world view.
"This was your choice of a question?" he asked May. "There goes that relationship!"
Trump does not like these kinds of uppity women, and he’s not going to put up with them.
6. He made it clear that the White House does not want to hear from you.
In the first week of a new presidency, the new administration saw fit to close down the longstanding White House comment line (202-456-1111) and direct callers to share their views on the White House website or Facebook page. Or perhaps tweet them.
While it is sometimes seen as a fairly weak form of activism, the millions of Americans who want their representatives to resist the Trump agenda are calling their senators and House members in numbers rivaling the Tea Party. But they can’t call the White House anymore; a clear sign that it isn’t the people’s house anymore.