First, blame the people who came before you. Then, swear you don’t recall. And if all else fails, just pretend that everything is fine.
There we have it: the 1-2-3 punch of weak Washington defenses, which Team Trump gets to a T. From the Watergate break-in to the Russian-hacking probe, cornered politicians have been reaching for all three of them. Lately in T-ville, they’ve been on especially prominent display.
“Since the Obama administration was told way before the 2016 election that Russians were meddling,” the president tweeted over the weekend, employing the old rearview-mirror trick, “why no action? Focus on them, not T!”
He’s often referred to himself in the third person. After five months in office, one letter will do. Here, the trick is blaming the people who tried and failed instead of the people who won’t try at all.
Jeff Sessions chose weak defense No. 2. In his recent testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the memory-challenged attorney general answered “I don’t recall” or its equivalent more than 20 times. If his recollection is quite that faulty, how can he possibly remember to deport millions of sympathetic immigrants or relaunch the failed war on drugs?
Oh. Wait. We should be so lucky, right?
But leave it to Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway. No one pretends like she does. As Republican senators kept coming out against the Senate’s Obamacare-repeal plan, it was up to Kellyanne to explain how her boss has everything under control.
“He is working the phones,” she insisted cheerfully. “He is having personal meetings. He hopes to get to yes.”
It’s going great. Really, it is. Too bad the out-of-power Democrats are being so obstructionist.
It hardly matters in any of the cases whether the defenses are accurate, relevant or true. That’s entirely beside the point. One-third of the nation will buy them no matter what the facts and logic are. Two-thirds won’t even listen. Now that Trump and his people have written off persuading anyone, it isn’t even about content.
Just keep it simple.
Blame. Forget. Smile.
Metro columnist Ellis Henican is a veteran journalist, best-selling author and frequent commentator on CNN and other TV networks. Follow him on Twitter @henican.