So You Think You Can Govern: Recapping Politics Like It’s Reality TV

Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Well, our government is really starting to feel like a Real Housewives franchise, complete with the lying, manipulation, and aggressive bronzer application. We’re tuning in nonstop, with a face mask on and a bowl of popcorn, watching it all burn down. So let’s dig into this week’s news, starting with a breakdown so dramatic it’s sure to resurface as clips in the reunion episode. Monday night, General Michael Flynn resigned from his position as National Security Advisor over a fracas regarding his communication with the Russian ambassador. He lied to Vice President Mike Pence and deliberately kept him out of the loop. Was that so Pence could keep his hands free of scandal and someday assume the presidency unscathed, or do people just not like Pence? I’m leaning toward the latter. And here's what else is going on. You Okay, Kellyanne?
Everyone was asking if sentient alternative fact Kellyanne Conway was on her way out of the White House. Some of those rumors began after she appeared on the Today show seeming a bit resigned and tired, like a defeated Bachelor contestant on her limo ride home. During the interview, Matt Lauer slammed Conway’s objectively untrue statements about Trump and the Department of Justice’s knowledge of General Flynn’s communications with Russia. The rumors of her firing continued Tuesday afternoon when key White House staff apparently unfollowed Conway on Twitter. Following each other on social media is one of the main tenets of any relationship these days, just ask Arianna and Lala from Vanderpump Rules (spoiler alert: friendship over). However, the strongest indication of a possible exit for America’s Next Top Liar is that she has been counseled and disciplined following her statement encouraging people to buy Ivanka Trump’s merchandise. I’m ready for Conway to leave this administration faster than Alexis Bellino and her husband left Real Housewives of Orange County to focus on their trampoline park business. Even so, it just doesn’t sit well with me that the issue she’d be fired over is this Ivanka Trump merchandise debacle. Don’t get me wrong, it is objectively unethical and illegal for Conway to plug Ivanka’s line, and not just because that line includes drop waist dresses as work wear (I mean, in what world?). But she has done so many other harmful things up until this point that were also worthy of firing. She lied about a terrorist attack that didn’t happen. She lied about General Flynn’s communication with Russia. Hell, Kellyanne Conway invented “alternative facts,” a concept undermining the entire existence of journalism. After all that, for the most prominent woman in the administration to be fired over a scandal involving magenta pumps and bangle bracelets just feels so disappointing. By Wednesday, Kellyanne was allowed to retreat to her ice bath to recharge, and Trump returned to his favorite place on earth. No, not Mar-a-Lago: the spotlight. During a press event with Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump was rightfully asked what he thought about the uptick in anti-semitism in the U.S. since he has been in office. Trump answered by reminding the reporter and the Israeli PM that he won more electoral votes than anyone expected. Not only does that not answer the question in any way, but it’s also something that happened months ago and everyone else has moved on (as much as we can, that is).

Out Like Flynn
We’re focusing a lot on the talking, so we may as well talk about General Flynn and all that talking he did with Russia. It really looked bad when information was released regarding Flynn’s communication with Russia during the campaign. It looked even worse when we learned that the DOJ and DJT (Donald J. Trump for those not down with abbrevs) were aware of those communications for at least the last month before Flynn’s forced resignation on Monday. Well, the worse just got worser — but for America, not necessarily for Flynn, Trump, or Putin for that matter. The Republicans in Congress have voted against a Democrat proposed bill calling for an independent investigation of Flynn’s connection to Russia. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell said that while they do plan on investigating the connection, it doesn’t warrant an independent committee. Seems we’re as likely to get a straight answer from Republicans on Russia’s involvement in the election as we are to get one from Real Housewife of New York Kelly Bensimon regarding what really went down on “Scary Island” (deep cut, I know). Flynn isn’t the only Trump appointee who’s already had to pack his knives and go. Andrew Puzder, Carl’s Jr. CEO, now hater of Oprah, and Trump’s pick for Secretary of Labor, withdrew his nomination this week. Apparently, he was getting abused in the press — which is also how you could describe the way he allegedly treated his ex-wife and the thousands fast-food industry workers he didn’t want to unionize. Tremendous Ratings — The Best
Still riding high after his televised Netanyahu talks, on Thursday, Trump decided to do what he thinks he does best, and be on camera again for a bonkers press conference. During the nearly two-hour event, the president said that drugs were as cheap as candy bars, called his entire entanglement with Russia just a joke, made a lot of vague and clearly uninformed statements about nuclear weapons, brought up Hillary Clinton for no apparent reason, accused the media of dishonesty, asked a Black journalist if she was friends with the Congressional Black Caucus and could set up a meeting for him, and established that the leaks from his own cabinet to the media are real — but the reporting of them is fake. (Um, what?) It would be impressive that he did all of that in one conference if it wasn’t so terrifying. Oh, and if you think he got through all of that talking without yet again bringing up his unbelievable electoral college win, well, not only are you wrong, but I’m guessing you don’t keep up with the news. Twice in two days Trump raved about his impressive victory. But this time, he said he won the most electoral votes since Reagan. And that’s true, if you don’t count one of George H.W. Bush’s terms, neither of Bill Clinton’s wins, and neither of Obama’s victories. So, it is in no way true. At all. Trump brings up winning the election like he’s a middle-aged Jiffy Lube manager riding a recumbent bike at the gym talking about how he was an all-star quarterback in high school. And if the only reason that guy scored so many touchdowns was a bunch of Vladimir Putins knocking out the opposing team.

To recap: Flynn is gone, Puzder is out, a bunch of others were dismissed for failing background checks — Trump’s cabinet is falling apart faster than any dinner party where Ramona Singer is present. And to add insult to embarrassing injury, Trump’s pick for Security Advisor after Flynn declined the position. He probably had something like a better offer or a moral compass. What's Trump Gonna DO?
Why, throw a rally in Florida, of course. Not one to take the weekend off (just kidding), Trump is having a rally on Saturday, even though the election is over, which is something he loves to point out every chance he gets. Having a rally a month into being president when his approval ratings are at an all-time low feels like a vow renewal on Real Housewives. You know, like Vicki and Donn or Ramona and Mario — a big, lavish attention fest full of fake love and positivity right before it all falls apart. Tune in next week for a new episode of America Hasn’t Got Talent when Paul Ryan dismantles the Affordable Care Act and Trump announces a newer and scarier immigration executive order. Is it sweeps week already?!


On Friday the Senate confirmed noted-Earth-hater Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA. I guess all you need to do to be the head of an organization is to oppose everything it stands for and sue it. Donald Trump’s pick for ambassador to Israel is the former attorney of alleged murderer Robert Durst. Looks like we’ll be burping toward a world war soon enough. North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un’s brother, Kim Jong-nam was maybe assassinated by a woman wearing a shirt that just had “LOL” written on it. Kid Rock is being discussed as a possible candidate for a North Carolina Senate seat. Now he has to change the lyrics to, “My name is Senator Kiiiiiid Rock.” And that just doesn’t sound as good.

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