* Jared Kushner, somehow, is President Donald Trump’s chief Middle East adviser. His qualifications: He’s Trump’s son in law. He’s Jewish and regards Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “Uncle Bibi.” And he has presumably done the background reading his father-in-law passes on. And did we mention that he was Trump’s son in law? But by any definition, he is woefully under-credentialed. He could use a track record. Perhaps he should start with the Trump administration and help bring coherence and peace out of inner-circle in-fighting and chaos.
* How does Elaine Chao, the Secretary of Transportation–and the WIFE of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell–stay in this administration? Being an immigrant (Taiwan) of color, MBA-holder from an elitist university (Harvard) and former director of the Peace Corps should be problematic enough. But living with the embarrassingly high-profile Trump-McConnell acrimony?
When asked about the tensions between her husband and the president, which include Trump’s scathing, public scapegoating of McConnell over health care, she said: “I stand by my man–both of them.” How equivocatingly disingenuous–and less-than-spontaneous. Chao is now becoming known for something other than merely being part of the oddest couple since Tiny Tim and Miss Vicki.
* Arguably, nobody could be worse for the Oval Office than Donald Trump, and that includes annoyingly sycophantic Veep Mike Pence, who looks normal and doesn’t shout. But Pence hardly helped the cause–if the cause is common sense, compassion, public safety and historic candor–with his dismissive comment on the public controversy over Confederate monuments. “What we have to walk away from is a desire by some to erase parts of our history just in the name of some contemporary political cause.” That should have embarrassed even the hosts of “Fox & Friends,” the forum for the Pence interview.
* Collusion prequel. It so happens that a few years back both Donald Trump and Joe Arpaio pursued the insidious case of Barack Obama’s birthplace. Hoping to find it was some place other than Hawaii. Talk about “birther”-caretaker coincidence. “There was no collusion,” says Arpaio.
* What still remains weird and, well, inexplicable are these post-election studies and surveys analyzing the “Obama-Trump voters,” basically working class whites who switched sides to channel their ultimate populist. “Obama-Trump” voters? That should still be an oxymoron.
* These days you never know who’s going to show up at a congressional town hall meeting–from ideologues and hecklers to pragmatists and idealists. The other night in Clearwater, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, incurred a new constituent dynamic: psychiatrist. Dr. Mark Simko weighed in on the competence of Donald Trump. This is, alas, where we are.
“Every utterance, tweet-wise or personally, shows evidence of temperamental, emotional and intellectual instability,” diagnosed Dr. Simko, “and I’m concerned about the safety of the country.” Aren’t we all, but how sobering to have it underscored clinically. Scary.
* From what we hear, gun purchases are off in Florida as are requests for concealed weapons permits and background checks. Apparently it’s attributable to having a gun-rights advocate in the White House. Anyone feel safer as a result?
* This just in. Border Patrol agents in California have detained 30 individuals–Chinese and Mexicans–found in a smuggling tunnel. About that wall … .
* No, we don’t miss White House spokesman Sean Spicer, but, as opposed to his successor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, he never came across as insufferable or darkly duplicitous, just in over his head, out of touch and ultimately hung out to dry. So who will play Huckabee Sanders on SNL this fall? You know a major send-up, complete with disdainful, arched brow, is on the way. But as to more specifics–and to paraphrase Huckabee Sanders–we’ll just have to get back to you on that.