Can anyone describe the sound of Hope Hicks’s voice?
She was a communications director who rarely spoke — who once, when GQ attempted to write a profile about her, refused to go on the record herself, but arranged for President Trump to talk about her, while she sat near him in the same room.
Still, after she announced her resignation Tuesday afternoon, onlookers became convinced that she was about to open her mouth, and further convinced that they knew what would come out. Wrote one of many gleeful amateur analysts on Twitter, “Y’all keep in mind that Hope Hicks has been close to the Trump family for years and has ALL the tea.”
Has it? Yes. Will spill it? Hmm.
There’s a mostly liberal narrative that has formed around Hicks — the same one that has formed around several women in Trump’s inner circle. The narrative is that these women do not want to be there. That they are sending, through tastefully mascara’d eyelashes, a Morse code plea to save them. By day, they represent Trump’s administration at the Olympics. By night, they blink, R-E-S-I-S-T!
In Hicks’s case, the presumption was probably in the pedigree. A former model from Connecticut, she entered the campaign not wearing a MAGA hat, but via an invitation from Ivanka Trump, whose clothing line she had publicized in New York.
The Manhattan fashion world doesn’t scream “conservative,” and because Hicks doesn’t scream at all, then . . . sure. Sure, maybe the reason she wasn’t appearing on the Sunday morning news shows like Barack Obama’s and George W. Bush’s communications directors before her, was because she was instead sneaking into the Blue Room to shove her secret Russia investigation diaries under the floorboards.
But the times we have heard her communicate suggest not.
We heard Hicks’s voice in the White House statement about Rob Porter, who resigned after his two former wives alleged that he’d abused them: “Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor, and I can’t say enough good things about him,” read the statement she helped craft about the man who was reportedly her boyfriend.
We heard Hicks’s voice in the phrase “white lies,” which is what she occasionally told for Trump, she allegedly testified to the House Intelligence Committee.
“She was a true believer,” an unnamed White House official told the news site Axios after Hicks’s resignation. “Not an ideologue, but a true believer in Donald Trump.”
Why does it seem hard for some to accept that the women near Trump are true believers?
It even seems hard for them to accept this of the woman raised by him: Ivanka Trump was viewed for months as the Democrats’ great White House hope, despite never publicly disagreeing with her father, despite ruling that any suggestion that she might disagree with him was “inappropriate.”
It even seems hard for them to accept this of the woman married to him: The past two years have seen 1,000 “Free Melania!” memes. Earlier this month, when someone noticed that the first lady followed Obama on Twitter, folks were quick to declare it a masterful trolling move against her husband.
And yet, in 2011, it was Melania Trump who told talk show host Joy Behar, “It’s not only Donald who wants to see [Obama’s birth certificate], it’s American people.” It’s Melania Trump who has defended her husband by saying, “When you attack him, he will punch back 10 times harder.” And this, after the president had mocked another woman as “bleeding badly” from a facelift.
Donald Trump is a man who prides himself on masculine strength, whose two most famous quotes regarding the female gender are “Lock her up” and “Grab ’em by — ” Oh, you know. He is a man who seems to see much of the world as a prop, and perhaps because of these aspects of his personality, it’s easy to view the beautiful women around him as that, too: pawns instead of people, draftees instead of enlisted participants with their own agency.
Is it meaningful that until the Porter incident, Hicks had drawn her biggest headlines from the fitted tuxedo she wore to the Japan state dinner? “Mysterious,” one fashion blog described her, gushing over the outfit, remarking on the fact that she was so often silent. “Enigma,” declared Vanity Fair.
But the thing is, Hicks was there, at the dinner. She was there, in public, for an administration she represented and a man she believed in. How is that enigmatic? How is that mysterious?
People want Hope Hicks to spill the tea. Why are we so unwilling to take her actions at face value, to allow her to have agency and to accept the fact that maybe she drank the tea already?