Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders graduated at the top of her class … especially in two courses: Deflect & Distract, and General Bull Poop. She is such a genuine whiz at these things that I sometimes wonder if it is really she who is running the government! Now, lest you wonder, yes, I am being snarky … very, very snarky. The woman is, in truth, about as intelligent, well-spoken, and knowledgeable as a stone in the back yard.
A sample from yesterday’s press briefing, with my usual snarky remarkys in blue:
Reporter #1 (Steven): Two questions about the President’s statement this morning. What does “Get ready Russia” mean? Is the United States planning to target Russian assets, personnel in Syria as part of the attack that the President himself said is coming — the missiles are coming? What does it mean?
Sanders: We’re maintaining that we have a number of options, and all of those options are still on the table. Final decisions haven’t been made yet on that front.
Reporter #1: So does it mean anything at all? What does it mean?
Sanders: It certainly means — I think there’s a lot there that you can read from. But at the same time, the President has a number of options at his disposal, and all of those options remain on the table, and we’re continuing to look at each one of them. (Let me get this straight … there are options … and a table, right?)
Reporter #2 (Mike): Two quick questions. You said that the final decision on Syria hasn’t been made yet. Does the President’s emoting on Twitter complicate the planning on this or present a national security risk?
Sanders: Not at all. (Might you like to elaborate, because from where I sit, it is a heck of a complication!)
Reporter #3 (Hallie): Sarah, two on Syria. Given your comments given here at the podium, given the President’s tweets this morning, is the White House prepared for the possibility of direct military engagement with Russia?
Sanders: Once again, all options are on the table, and I don’t have any further announcements about —
Reporter #3: It sounds like a yes. Just — I want to be clear.
Sanders: It sounds like all options are on the table, and a final decision hasn’t been made, but we’ll keep you posted once it is. (Okay, got it! All options are on the table!)
Reporter #3: And then let me ask that follow-up, too. The President, as you know, back in 2013, talked about why, when it comes to Syria, we can’t just, in his words, “be quiet and, if we attack at all, catch them by surprise.” Obviously, the President didn’t talk about a date or a time for any kind of attack on Syria, but he did talk about, as Steven points out, “get ready” for something. Why this time is the President not taking his own advice and being “quiet,” as he put it?
Sanders: The President, like you said — and actually answered my question for me — has not laid out a timetable, and he has a number of other options as well. And we’re considering all of those options and a number of different timetables of what any action we may or may not take would look like. (Well, to be fair, I guess she couldn’t just say, “because the president is a fool.”)
Reporter #3: So that 48-hour timetable is out the window that he talked about Monday? We should disregard that?
Sanders: In a public sense, certainly the President has made some decisions. He made a decision not to travel to Latin America so that we could focus on this. That was the first step in this process, but we’re continuing to look at a number of options. (Two days time, one decision.)
Reporter #4 (Jon): But, Sarah, the President was direct in talking about missiles. He said, “Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’” Why is the President telegraphing military intentions on Twitter; announcing, effectively, an attack on Twitter?
Sanders: Again, the President has not laid out a timetable and still leaving a number of other options on the table. And we’re still considering a number of those, and a final decision on that front hasn’t been made. (YO… Sarah! You didn’t answer the simple question: Why IS the president announcing military intentions on Twitter???)
Reporter #7 (Blake): Sarah, you just said that the intelligence provided certainly paints a different picture, and that the President holds Syria and Russia responsible for the attack. However, earlier this morning, the Defense Secretary said, “We’re still assessing the intelligence — ourselves…We’re still working on this.” So what has changed over the last handful of hours from when the Defense Secretary said, “We’re still assessing the intelligence,” and now, to where you clearly point the finger at Russia and Syria?
Sanders: As I just stated to both Jeff and Jonathan, Russia holds some responsibility in the fact that they guaranteed that Syria wouldn’t use chemical weapons again, and they did. They also hold some responsibility in the fact that they have the six U.N. resolutions that they vetoed to help protect Assad. Both of those things lie at Russia’s feet in terms of responsibility in this process.
Reporter #7: So then you still are assessing the intelligence then as the Defense Secretary stated before?
Sanders: Certainly, there are things that are being assessed. I can’t get into the details. But we’re confident in the part of this process that we’re in to feel comfortable making the assertions that we have earlier today. (‘Things’ are being ‘assessed’. Supreme enlightenment, yes?)
Reporter #9 (April): What about an enemy, though? Are they an enemy, though, of America at this point?
Sanders: That’s something that Russia needs to play a role in determining. We hope that they will continue — or not continue, I’m sorry, to be a bad actor, and make some changes in their behavior. But that’s something that Russia will have to play a role in determining.
Reporter #9: Sarah, as you say, “All options are on the table” when it comes to Syria and Russia. Has diplomacy been exhausted? That’s an option, as well.
Sanders: As I said, all options are on the table. Again, all options are on the table. That contains a number of different things.
Reporter #9: So diplomacy could still be in play?
Sanders: It could be. But there are a lot of other options that are also on the table. (Would you knock it off with the bloomin’ options and the table already???)
Reporter #10 (Steve): Sarah, Senator Markey, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said today that the President must come to Congress for authorization prior to another military strike on Syria. And there are others who are also saying that. Does the administration intend to do that? And if not, why not?
Sanders: Obviously, the administration will follow whatever laws and regulations are necessary for any actions that we take. Because we haven’t laid out any specific actions that we plan to take, I can’t tell you exactly what needs we would have to go to Congress with.
Reporter #11 (Jim): It sounds like the President hasn’t really left a lot of wiggle room. You said that all options are on the table, but when the President says, “Get ready Russia…they will be coming,” the missiles are coming, how is that anything but an announcement of a pending airstrike?
Sanders: That’s certainly one option, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only option or the only thing that the President may or may not do. Just because he does one thing doesn’t mean he can’t do a number of other actions as well.
Newspeak, anybody? My best guess is that Sanders learned a new word this week, “option(s)”, and that she is trying it out in every sentence just to make sure it flies, for she used it no less than 37 times just in this excerpt. And for this, we pay her $165,000 per year. Three times as much as I ever made in a single year, and I could actually speak intelligently! Her responses told us nothing we didn’t already know, but what they did tell us is that she doesn’t understand the situation. Neither does her boss, but he doesn’t get to be the focus of this post. A line from an old commercial from decades ago comes to mind: A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
I have a very dear friend who I always thought was the absolute world-class master at deflecting from questions he doesn’t want to answer, and distracting your attention elsewhere. But Ms. Sanders makes him look like a novice! All press secretaries do the deflect and distract routine to an extent, but I have never seen one use it in lieu of actual knowledge. Most, if they know something and are at liberty to answer the question, will answer it. We really do need an answer to the one about why Trump is tweeting taunts to Putin, and also why he is advertising his ‘policy & intent’ to the entire world!!! Don’t look for any answers from Sarah, though, unless you wish to know how to make a pecan pie or wish to know more about ‘options’.