Columnist

Apparently, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney gathered senior White House staff this weekend for a retreat at Camp David to build trust. The White House is embroiled in a crisis of its own manufacturing (crisis manufacturing is a growth sector) and the government is literally shut down — what a perfect time to head to the countryside and learn how to function as a team!

I can only imagine how this retreat went.

Day 1, Morning

“This is the conch,” Mick Mulvaney says. “Whoever has the conch has the floor! This is going to be fun, guys. We’re going to bond.”

Everyone claps and nods. Someone shoves Rick Perry, and his glasses fall off, but he picks them up before they break.

“We’re going to start with some simple games and activities,” Mulvaney says, waving the conch. “First, a quick ice-breaking round of two truths and a lie.”

Murmurs begin in the crowd of staffers. “Great,” Sarah Sanders says. “Just one question: What is a truth?”

By the time Mulvaney manages to explain what a truth is to the baffled assembly, the sun hangs low in the west, and they are running late for the ropes course.

Day 1, Afternoon

Mulvaney attempts to explain the concept of trust falls, but everyone greets with uproarious laughter his suggestion that they would voluntarily fall into the arms of anyone else present. Finally, to demonstrate, he forces Ben Carson to fall backward, but no one makes any effort to catch him. He lands on Perry, dislodging his glasses. They break. Everyone laughs.

Day 1, Evening

Perry’s broken glasses are seized and used to make fire. As a trust-building exercise, everyone begins pelting one another with small rocks.

“I have the conch,” Mulvaney says timidly at one point, but a laughing Steven Mnuchin launches a smooth, flat stone that just misses him, and he decides to say nothing further.

Day 2, Morning

Staff are blindfolded and led into the woods for a trust walk. Sarah Sanders is instructed to tell them where obstacles are so they can avoid them. She insists there are no obstacles and keeps encouraging everyone to march boldly forward as Mnuchin slowly impales himself on a tree.

“Are you sure there isn’t something in front of me?” a spectacle-less Perry asks, moments before falling into a large hole.

“I have no information on that at this time, and I will get back to you on that,” Sanders says. After several hours of this, she marches back to Camp David alone, covered in mud, looking resolute. The conch is nowhere to be found.

Day 2, Evening

The surviving staff gather to make a human knot. Although accustomed to twisting themselves into unnatural positions to justify the president’s policies, they have never before successfully extricated themselves, and several arms are nearly gnawed off in the process. This is blamed on the agitation of an unseen outside force: the Beast. The staff agree that it is necessary to construct a palisade of sharpened stakes to keep the Beast out.

In search of stakes, several staffers wander off into a clearing to commune with what is either an enormous pig’s head on a stick belching forth a hatred older than human memory or President Trump, who had been sitting alone in his room watching “Fox & Friends” for the duration of the retreat. Either way, when they return, they are gravely shaken and unable to speak of what they have seen. To welcome them back and demonstrate trust, their colleagues stab them in the front.

Finally, as a trust exercise, everyone is made to go around and read aloud the text of the anonymous New York Times op-ed. The person whose reading is the most convincing is crushed beneath an enormous boulder.

Day 3, Morning

The staff are restless and hungry for red meat. They resolve to hunt the Beast. No actual evidence of any Beast has been found, but the number of Beasts increases exponentially each time anyone is asked about it. It is in hunting unseen Beasts together that this team functions best.

Day 3, Evening

Mike Pence arrives to pick up the staff.

All he finds is an enormous bonfire. He can almost hear a distant drumming.

A wild-eyed Mulvaney staggers from the woods, panting heavily, and collapses at his feet, holding in one hand the shattered remnants of the conch.

“Ready to go?” Pence asks.

“Go?” Mulvaney says. “But it’s so civilized here! We’ve never gotten along like this. I don’t want to go back."

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