Remember back in your teens when you and your buddies got into tomfoolery, and then it went wrong? Remember that one friend who scored the cases of firecrackers and M80s and a pack of Marlboro Lights? How he demanded that everyone lie to his parents so the group could camp out and set off fireworks? And how when the woods caught fire, he made everyone agree to lie some more?
And then the guy who planned the whole thing immediately folded and told his parents the truth, while everyone else stuck to the lie and got triple-punished.
So, that guy’s the president of the United States now, and he hasn’t gotten any better about having his friends’ backs, or taking responsibility for the forest fires he sets practically daily.
It’s as if, piqued that all we were offered as candidates were the deeply flawed characters from the movie “American Pie,” we elected Steve Stifler.
Consider the past 48 hours. On Monday afternoon, The Washington Post broke the story that President Donald Trump had told Russian officials the details of intelligence collected by one of our allies about an Islamic State plan to blow up planes with laptops. The problem is that the information itself could have made it clear to the Russians how it was gathered and where it came from.
The information was so sensitive it was held very closely within our government and had not been shared with ally nations.
“I was in the room, it didn’t happen,” National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told White House reporters Monday night.
But what McMaster specifically said didn’t happen — after that blanket denial — was artfully different from what was reported, as was Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s denial later. Both said specific intelligence sources and methods were not discussed, but no one said they were.
But the intricacies became less important Tuesday when Trump 140-charactered McMaster and Tillerson under the bus, tweeting, “As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety . . .” That story Trump sent his buddies out to deny on Monday? Oh, yeah, Trump says it’s true.
This ought to surprise no one who watched the way poor White House spokesman and Stockholm syndrome victim Sean Spicer was scorched on Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. Spicer was left out of the loop on the decision and forced to hide in the bushes. Then the president tweeted, “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press,” and left Spicer to explain.
Every thinking person has questions about that, such as, “Does Trump have tapes of conversations with Comey and others?” and, “If so, is he going to share them?” and, “If not, why the heck would he say something that bat-guano crazy?”
Journalists direct those queries at Spicer daily. Spicer can only answer, “The president has nothing further to add,” because Trump, having left Spicer out to drown under the weight of that tweet, won’t toss him a line.
It’s as if a doctor texted, “You had better hope you don’t have colon cancer before you start telling people I made you wait for your appointment.” Then every time you frantically call the nurse to ask about it, she says, “The doctor has nothing further to add to his comment.”
In this analogy, Spicer is the nurse, Trump is the doctor, the citizens of this great nation are the patients — and astonishingly, 40 percent still claim he’s a great physician.
Lane Filler is a member of the Newsday editorial board.