It was just after 4:30 p.m. Friday on the east coast and the reporters were restless in the White House.
President Donald Trump, reeling from the latest two scandals of his own making - The Ukraine “quid pro quo” scandal and the “Screw the Kurds” scandal - had been laying low.
The Donald only poked his well-coiffed hairdo above his desk on this blustery Friday in a quickly convened pool spray in the Roosevelt room with the Vice President, Trump’s daughter, some folks from NASA, a few unidentified spectators and a large television screen.
The screen showed NASA’s first all-female spacewalk. Trump misidentified the significance of the event, got fact checked by astronaut Jessica Meir in a conversation with the astronauts in the middle of their spacewalk and then Trump appeared to flip her the bird.
Other than that it was very, very quiet. It had been that way ever since Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney appeared in the White House Brady Briefing Room and either “shit the bed” according to one White House staffer, or committed “Seppuku” at the lectern Thursday.
At issue is Mulvaney admitting a quid pro quo exchange of information occurred in July in a conversation between Trump and Ukraine officials. That’s the way foreign policy is conducted Mulvaney told us. Sticking out his tongue and going “Ngyah Ngyah Ngyah” was only implied.
“What is it about this administration that no one can handle themselves in the briefing room?”
Mulvaney’s stunning admission shocked many a stoic reporter who’ve been rendered numb by most of the disinformation coming out of the Trump White House. Nothing surprises us any more - except an admission of guilt - especially after Trump has been shouting from the rafters there was no quid pro quo.
“What is it about this administration that no one can handle themselves in the briefing room?” A few reporters chuckled after Mulvaney admitted the exchange of favors did indeed occur.
At this point the whistleblowers who’ve come forward because they feared Trump sold out our country are nearly insignificant. Trump released a “transcript” of the phone call that verified everything the whistleblower claimed. And if that wasn’t enough, Mulvaney doubled down Thursday. He later tried to recant, but no matter how many times he tried to walk it back or say otherwise, the swiftest horse’s ass cannot overtake a word once it’s spoken.
So as Friday afternoon wore on and the administration stayed silent, the press corps, always filled with humanitarian concern for those we cover, began to worry Mulvaney might be dumped in the trash before the White House called a “lid” for the weekend.
Trump has done it before. In fact, late Thursday when a pool reporter asked about Mulvaney, Trump had given him the official Michael Corleone kiss of death. “Mick is a good man. I have a lot of confidence in him," Donald told us. One could almost hear the stiletto slicing the air.
There was talk of searching the North Lawn or the Eisenhower Executive Office Building for Mulvaney’s eviscerated corpse. Others wanted to check the nearest Greyhound bus station. Some suggested we check Rick Perry’s trunk.
Perry, who never really understood what job he was doing, offered his resignation as the Secretary of Energy and said he’d be gone by the end of the year. Apparently by then he might have a vague understanding of where the nuclear weapons are and what his responsibility regarding them may be. But maybe not.
Mulvaney was unseen Friday - but that means nothing in the Trump White House. Few can actually verify Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham ever visits the White House, and even the often seen mice who inhabit the building haven’t been seen lately.
Meanwhile, the impeachment inquiry seems to be gaining a head of steam instead of running out of gas. Trump’s sad, silly and salacious tweets about Turkey and the Kurds are fueling anger from both sides of the political aisle - but nothing happened Friday and few who work for the president and carry any weight were seen.
Maybe we just don't care any more
No Mulvaney. No Kellyanne Conway. No Stephen Miller.
Trump’s activities Friday and Mulvaney’s flippant admission underscore what this administration believes: They don’t think anyone cares what they do.
They are becoming more brazen, less calculating (if that’s even possible) and more chaotic.
Maybe Donald Trump is right.
Maybe we just don’t care anymore.
Maybe at some point in time we collectively decided that as long as we’re in debt up to our ass for the rest of our lives, but can sit down and watch television and yell at the screen without being involved in our government, then we’re okay.
Oh sure, we reserve the right to moan, complain and gnash our teeth. But we obviously don’t care enough to vote. Trump bet on that in 2016 and he was right.
We just want to get the kids to soccer practice or make it to our favorite watering hole with some vapid friends we can barely tolerate.
Watch the football game. Cheer, cheer for Old Notre Dame.
Politics? Who cares about that? What does it have to do with us?
We just want to be left alone. Trump and our government are mind numbing, nerve wracking and frustrating. Many of us just want to ignore everything.
And that’s the problem. We don’t get it.
So when Mick Mulvaney walked out into the White House on Thursday and confessed the Donald Trump administration was guilty of a “quid pro quo” arrangement with Ukraine’s president, his warning rang true. “Get over it.”
Only the reporters and politicians, it seems, care.
Trump knows that. Mulvaney knows that.
Donald Trump has laid bare the soulless truth about the United States: nobody else cares.
We have met the enemy, as Pogo told us, and he is us.
Mulvaney’s statement, which he has spent the last day trying to run away from should instead be embraced my him and his arrogant, greasy ilk. “Hell yeah, We don’t care. Catch us if you can!”
At Trump’s essence he understands former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill who said “all politics is local,” better than most Democrats. He also understands James Carville’s “It’s the economy stupid,” comment.
In that regard Trump understands politics better than most Democrats. Keep the economy going, scare the rabble into submission and badger them with anger and fear. That’ll keep the local systems in line.
Trump’s Death Star is his mouth and he trains it on anyone who challenges him with a deafening, seemingly unending salvo of crap that evokes envy among those fish oil salesmen who think they have the gift of gab.
The Donald doesn’t make any sense, but he doesn’t have to. He just turns on the motor and everyone else tunes out - except the base who love him in the same way our beagle loves my leg.
Trump is hammering hard on his Four Horseman theme FDR once attributed to Hoover: Destruction, Delay, Despair and Doubt.
So whatever Mulvaney may or may not have admitted, ultimately will mean very little in the grand scheme of things unless Congress actually decides to indict and remove Donald Trump from office - a long shot that ultimately still rests on the smooth round shoulders of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. If he decides in his own self-interest (the only way Mitch operates) that Trump is done, then he gives the rest of the GOP cover to vote against Trump in the Senate and it’s sayonara Trump.
But if you’re looking for character among the GOP, you’ll likely find characters who have no character. What you have are people like Matt Gaetz who doesn’t understand the difference between Captain Kangaroo and a Kangaroo court.
You’ve got hypocrites like Sen. Lindsay Graham who speaks out of both sides of his mouth and his flatulent ass at the same time.
There is no need to discuss their individual sins. They are already well known by the American public and their scandals read like a rap sheet for a mob enforcer who dabbles in sex and drug crimes on the side.
The American public seems to be just fine with all of it. Trump admitting his crimes on live television in front of hundreds of reporters didn’t move the public needle. Denigrating our intelligence community, the efforts of our military, the institutions of Democracy, the separation of powers, the emolument’s clause, other Americans of his own party, members of the free press and his own employees haven’t moved the needle.
We apparently do not care. Congress hasn’t acted and we feign shock when we hear about the latest atrocities.
Mick Mulvaney just pulled away the curtain.
Maybe he was tired of pretending.
Maybe he really was committing political seppuku.
Or perhaps he just doesn’t care either.
Has the president of the United States attacked our Republic?
You bet he has.
And you can bet millions are fine with that.
The only question is will a majority of us bend over and take it?