Time to trade in those red #MAGA caps, Trumpkins. If you want your headgear to fit in with the latest White House fashions, invest in some tinfoil.
From top to bottom, this administration has been infested with conspiracy theorists. Most appear to be true believers. Take Stephen K. Bannon and his anxieties about the “deep state,” or the recently ousted Michael Flynn and his propagation of suggestions that Hillary Clinton was tied to a child sex ring run out of a D.C. pizza parlor.
Others, such as Kellyanne Conway, appear to just be paranoiacs for pay.
Conway seems convinced that the best way to stay in her boss’s good graces is to spread parody-defying crackpot theories, or at least add a dash of color to President Trump’s own crackpottery.
You may recall that Trump, with zero evidence, accused President Barack Obama of having the “wires tapped” at Trump Tower. Trump then called for a congressional witch hunt to find proof that the unfounded allegation is true. Over the weekend, Bergen Record columnist Mike Kelly asked Conway point blank, “Do you know whether Trump Tower was wiretapped?”
Conway’s response: “What I can say is there are many ways to surveil each other now, unfortunately. . . . There was an article this week that talked about how you can surveil someone through their phones, through their — certainly through their television sets, any number of different ways. And microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera.”
Yup, Conway suggested that Team Trump may have been surveilled via microwaves and televisions. To be fair, though, if one were to spy on Trump, through the TV would be a good place to start.
Sadly, Conway is not the only White House official to spread conspiracy theories. She’s not even the only White House official to spread conspiracy theories this past weekend.
On Sunday, budget director Mick Mulvaney added his own screwball spin to the latest jobs report.
“We’ve thought for a long time, I did, that the Obama administration was manipulating the numbers in terms of the number of people in the workforce to make the unemployment rate, that percentage rate, look smaller than it actually was,” Mulvaney told CNN’s Jake Tapper. Mulvaney declined to say exactly how the numbers were being manipulated, saying the explanation might “bore people.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has been calculating the unemployment rate the same way since 1940. But Mulvaney nevertheless supports the theories of his tinfoil-hat-wearing boss, who throughout the presidential campaign called the unemployment rate a “hoax” and “totally fiction.” Most recently Trump relayed through his press secretary that the jobs report “may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now.”
As with Trump, Mulvaney’s data trutherism goes back a ways. During the 2015 State of the Union address, for example, then-Rep. Mulvaney (R-S.C.) tweeted that Obama’s “math on the jobless rate doesn’t add up.”
Just a few days before Mulvaney’s latest bout of irresponsible conspiracy theorizing, Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt suggested that — despite the overwhelming scientific consensus — carbon dioxide may not be a “primary contributor” to climate change.
It’s hardly just coincidence that the Trump executive branch is rife with beliefs that are wholly disconnected from reality. Such beliefs were a foundation of his campaign. Of course this would be the talent he attracts. Not scientists, experts or others who believe in weighing evidence, but people who heard Trump’s many malicious lies and reckless insinuations — that vaccines cause autism, that Ted Cruz’s dad was connected to the JFK assassination, that Mexicans are flooding over the border to rape and kill, that Antonin Scalia and Vince Foster may have been murdered, that 3 million people voted illegally, that our first black president was born in Kenya — and said: “Sign me up!”
That includes people such as Curtis Ellis, a Labor Department appointee who previously argued that Democrats were engaged in “ethnic cleansing” of working-class whites. Or Sid Bowdidge, the massage therapist with no relevant experience who landed a job as a political appointee at the Energy Department, despite tweeting that Muslims ought to be exterminated and Obama was related to radical Islamist terrorists.
As Conway has demonstrated, the darker and more sensational your conspiracy theories, the better. For this administration, only one political premise is beyond the pale: that the Russians maybe, just maybe, intervened in the 2016 election to help put Trump in the White House.
Whoa, let’s not get carried away.
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