The White House Emergency that Wasn’t

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Credit Rob Young via Wikipedia

In case you were under a rock this week, or plain out NOT on social media, you might have missed another episode of the greatest hits from this White House. The story goes something like this. The Vice President was on his way to New Hampshire to deliver a speech on opioids. Depending on when in the timeline, Air Force Two was recalled, or it never took off. What happened is that a staffer went on stage in New Hampshire, and told attendees that there was some kind of an emergency, and sent people home.

And here is where those of us who follow these things went down the rabbit hole. Usually, emergencies that have a Vice-President recalled from a scheduled event mean something very serious is happening. It usually implies somebody got sick, critically so, or has died. This somebody is the president. The other choice is a major international crisis. While Vice-Presidents are usually not part of the National Security Council staff, Joe Biden was not just present, but active during a few of those in the last administration. The role of Vice President Dick Cheney was equally large during the George W Administration. Both broke the pattern that the job of the vice-president is mostly to hold a seat warm for the time he may have to step into the role of president.

Under the constitution, the Vice President has no active role in either policy or decision making. Recent times are a change in tradition. Given that in the early days of the republic the loser of the presidential contest would become the VEEP that makes sense. Under that set of long gone standards, the VEEP would be Hillary Rodham Clinton.

However, back to the gang that claims transparency, but are everything but. For a few hours, many of us thought the worst. Personally, I believed this was some kind of a major health crisis for the president. It was the one thing that made sense under the standard operating procedure. In fact, I wondered where the White House Ambulance was, and even asked a few on the grounds to look for it. What was more unusual is that this White House is particularly leaky, and they were as hermetic as can be. So the other possible explanation was a major international crisis. I know, I am giving them credit where none should, that they would be able to keep operational security.

The media kept digging, and the best they could come with was that we will learn what happened in a few weeks. This went only on Twitter, none reported this beyond that. I am betting that with the rhythms of the insanity from this administration we will learn not. Why? What used to be a normal news rhythm has been blown out of the water, and soon this incident will be forgotten into the mists of insanity.

Was this a manufactured distraction? We cannot discount that possibility. After all, the White House has a few hot coals on the media fire, such as the concentration camps on the southern border and the census question. If that was the goal, the media did not take the bait and the administration was not able to reset the media narrative. That would be a good thing incidentally. If this was the case, we need more of that from the media. It is well past time to let them do that.

However, the damage has been done. If the White House cries wolf again about a White House emergency, I know I will not take them seriously. And now my thinking moves from a possible health crisis, good news nobody was on the way to either the hospital or the cemetery, to I cannot take their word on what the word emergency means. It is the last critical bridge to not believing a thing the White House says.

They do not realize they have a problem. As they continue down this path, their credibility is non-existent. We could have a real international crisis soon. Granted, one involving Iran is desired by at least some in the administration, like John Bolton. If the president comes on television and tells us that insert this here happened, he will have a hell of a time being believed. This is not just me. You could say I am biased, and you will if you are part of the Trump base. Sure, whatever, it really does not matter. After all, I am not near anywhere where I could influence policy.

This is the question you should ask. Will our allies believe the statements from the White House? Will his own intelligence community do? Will Trump send troops to war because that will make him a war president? Granted, we got damn close to a war the other day when he recalled the flight to Iran when they were already committed. That is his indecisiveness, one of his most endearing traits, and that may save us from yet another conflict in the Middle East. But we could cross easily into a major crisis, and the reasons for it will be manufactured.

As they say, if the president tells me the sky is blue and it is nice and warm outside my window, I will have to personally check this. Why? His credibility is shot, as well as that of his administration.

This incident also involves something else. This administration could have killed all the speculations in five seconds flat. They could have had a presser and explain what happened. They have yet to do that. It was likely a nothing burger, but they cannot even get the gumption to say that. That would show weakness, so the theory goes. So when they tell you that they are the most transparent administration in history, as they say, in their imagination.

Written by

Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game.

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