In the pastseven days New York decided it didn't want Cynthia Nixon as its governor, Amazon's owner elected to get into the education business, and a series of gas-line explosions hit north of Boston. But on the plus side, we also had Mark Wahlberg’s schedule to look at and a new Dolly Patron/Sia collaboration to listen to, so I guess it's not entirely a hellscape out here? Maybe? While we ponder that idea together, let's look at what else has been dominating the online conversation over the last week.
Is There Such a Thing as a Solemn Fist Pump?
What Happened: President Trump probably could've handled the anniversary of 9/11 better than he did.
What Really Happened: The anniversary of the September 11 attacks in 2001 is a solemn occasion, and one in which the United States turns to its president to see empathetic, strong leadership that comforts everyone and embraces the country’s greatest strengths during a troubled time. President Trump’s behavior on 9/11 this year was, well, maybe not that.
He did, to be fair, address the topic people wanted him to.
Funny thing about the image in that last tweet...
There was also this:
Oh, and this:
What could be more presidential?
There. Doesn’t that feel almost cathartic? There’s nothing that can't become content, if we try hard enough.
The Takeaway: To be fair, it could have been worse. No, really.
Bad Tweets, Part 2
What Happened: Apparently, when you’re prone to paranoid thinking, it's very easy to become a truther for all kinds of things.
What Really Happened: Actually, speaking of things that could've been worse, let's take a brief moment to discuss what might be the worst thing President Trump has done on Twitter yet. First off, please remember that an independent study by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University found that the death toll in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria stands at 2,975 (and rising. Now, with that number in mind, consider that as recently as this past week President Trump was calling the government’s response to Maria "incredibly successful," and complaining that the work was "an unappreciated good job." OK, now that you know all of that, think about this:
Yes, that really was Trump outright denying the deaths of thousands of people, and claiming it was a lie motivated by politics. Just let that sink in for a second.
Still, at least his Republican counterparts stood up against him. Right? Well, OK, Orrin Hatch and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy claimed they hadn't seen the tweets, Lindsey Graham also questioned the death toll, and Marco Rubio tried to straddle a non-existent line.
Studies in leadership, all. (FYI, a couple of Republicans did eventually push back.)
The Takeaway: If this was, as some believed, an attempt to distract attention away from other subjects, it certainly worked well. Maybe a little too well.
All Those Witches, Lined Up and Offering Confessions
What Happened: The ongoing so-called "witch hunt" against those surrounding President Trump claimed another victim last week, as Paul Manafort pled guilty in court on Friday.
What Really Happened: On Friday, the one thing that political watchers had simultaneously been expecting and convinced was unlikely to happen—let’s call it the Schrödinger's cat of the current political moment—finally happened: Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort agreed to plead guilty to avoid a second trial.
The news resurrected a piece of Trump-related ephemera in at least one person’s mind.
Of course, people are already wondering how this impacts the big picture.
At the time of this writing, Trump's Twitter feed is filled with Hurricane Florence-related retweets, but it's genuinely only a matter of time before he responds to this news and revisits his previous statements about Manafort.
Still, at least the White House has its angle, as utterly unbelievable as it is.
Once again, Paul Manafort was the chair of the Trump campaign, and the man who chose the vice president. It’s more than a little disingenuous to claim that this has nothing to do with the campaign. But tell that to those around the president.
The Takeaway: There’s really only one way to end this, isn’t there?
Ringo Starr Would Be Appalled
What Happened: Just in case you thought that Thomas and Friends was a jolly series about happy trains and overweight controllers, the National Rifle Association has a shocking piece of information for you. Yes, the National Rifle Association.
What Really Happened: Everyone knows that, sometimes, there's something in combining two flavors together to create a fun and exciting taste combination that will thrill the masses. Chocolate and peanut butter? It’s a game changer! The NRA and Thomas and Friends? Maybe a little less so, as it turns out.
Yes, you read that right. A show on the National Rifle Association’s streaming service dressed characters—you know, trains—from Thomas and Friends in KKK hoods. This is actually a thing that really happened, somehow.
But how did Dana Loesch, who hosted the segment, feel about the whole kerfuffle?
The Takeaway: There really is just one way to wrap this one up. George Takei, do you have the pun-o-matic ready?
What Happened: There's one organization that even the federal government turns to in times of natural disaster, and with a hurricane headed towards the East Coast, last week seemed like the time to shine a spotlight on it.
What Really Happened: Late last week, Hurricane Florence made landfall on America's East Coast, leading to a very difficult number of days for everyone whose homes, family, and loved ones in its path. But even before it hit, Florence was very much being considered a big deal.
With mandatory evacuations underway, people watched as the storm grew stronger, then seemingly weakened before getting stronger again. Was it going to slow down and linger in certain areas? It was hard to tell. Even NASA got involved. That mixture of surreal expectation and fear kept building throughout the week as the hurricane continued to approach.
But how serious were storm preparations on the ground? I mean, a state of emergency is one thing, but is there another way to measure these things? Turns out, the answer is yes, and in the most amazing way.
It’ll come as little comfort for those affected directly by Florence, but for everyone else, there’s some strange joy to be had in watching the Waffle House Index go mainstream. The world can still offer unexpected delights, it turns out.
The Takeaway: Stay safe, everyone.
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