Recently, the White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has taken to beginning White House press briefings in an interesting way—by reading pieces of fan mail to the president, usually written by a young child. A couple of weeks ago, the letter came from a nine-year-old boy named Dylan, or “Pickle” to his friends and family.
His endearing letter stated how much he admired the president and that he couldn’t understand why certain people didn’t like him. He even revealed that he had a Trump-themed birthday party where everyone wore MAGA hats. So, adorable, right? Er, completely and totally terrifying, depending on how you look at it. I mean, please let my children never be invited to such an event, is all I’m saying.
The following week’s briefing began no differently. Another child’s letter, this time, one begging the president to allow him to come to the White House and mow his lawn. He even said the president could pick which kind of lawn mower he uses—a push mower, a riding mower—whatever! If only he had the chance to perform this service for the great commander-in-chief, his life would be complete.
How dear. Are you whimpering with happy tears of innocence yet? Yeah, me neither.
Sanders responded to the children’s letters by inviting the kids to come meet the president. She spoke directly to the child, seeming to ignore the slew of reporters standing by, tapping their pencils and patiently waiting to report on real, ya know, issues. Sanders proceeded to thank the children for their sweet, clearly unjaded spirit, their time and energy spent writing to the president. It was almost as if to say, “Oh, if only all Americans were so grateful for this remarkable time in American history. Learn from these sweet children, you ignorant, blithering fools with all your QUESTIONS and ISSUES and CONCERNS. Can’t you see how good you have it!? BE MORE LIKE THE KIDS, AMERICA. THE KIDS GET IT.”
Over the weekend, we saw the president sink to a new low, when he refused to denounce the hate groups marching the streets of Charlottesville. We heard him put blame on “both sides,” rather than call out white supremacists for what they are. And while Trump’s base still seems to be standing behind him, pushing the rhetoric that the Black Lives Matter movement—that voices that stand for civil rights and liberties for all—are somehow one and the same with Nazis and Klan members, many of his base are also jumping ship. He’s losing support from all directions. So it’s not unlikely that the White House will continue to use children as their pawns.
Oh how the not-so-mighty have fallen. This tactic isn’t charming. Just like just about everything out of the White House (or living in it). In fact, it’s just further proof that the president’s staff will go to virtually any length to push their deeply worsening, sad, twisted agenda— even using innocent children to appeal to the public, or possibly, to take up as much time as humanly possible so they don’t have to spend as much energy yelling at the press, calling them all liars, and deflecting. If it wasn’t so damn transparent, it might be a brilliant strategy. But it is so astoundingly clear, almost anyone could see through it. Even children.
Either way, how could this possibly be a good use of anyone’s time? While the idea here is clearly to send a message that “Trump cares,” who in their right mind would believe it? He’s routinely shown us, that he doesn’t care about the American people—not in his language, his policy, and certainly not his tweets, which routinely take up the other half of the briefings given they have such damaging implications that need a ton of weeding through and explaining. These briefings have become such a circus where facts are things of the past, half-truths are thrown around like cotton candy, and now children’s fan-mail is the opening act. Sanders is just the monkey in the middle, practically mocking the press with these stunts and time-wasting tactics.
It’s also a little bit sad when you think about it. Putting these kids’ names and words out there for the public to see and hear might make them happy now—I’m sure it does, but later on, when at least a few of them have realized what a horrible bigot they once claimed 15-minutes of fame for supporting, they might not feel so great about having their letters heard around the world. They might be a little humiliated.
They might have something else to write—like a tell-all memoir about the time Trump’s team took advantage of their childhood admiration of such a person. It’s shameful, to put these kids in the spotlight, because it’s clearly not for them anyway. It’s for Trump. It’s all for Trump, and he loves it. I mean, he obviously loves fan-mail, like, a lot. So much that it’s pretty hard to imagine that between making campaign-like speeches, refusing to denounce the KKK, egging on police brutality, tweeting new anti-LGBT policies for the military, and reading children’s letters, there’s any time left at all to actually help the country.
The fan-mail gag is pathetic, but the White House is grasping at straws. It’s such a boastful, arrogant form of propaganda, that I wouldn’t be surprised if the president himself thought this one up. He probably did. But no matter who is behind the stunt, it’s frightening to know that this is where the president’s priorities lie. It’s infuriating to watch his staff take advantage of children by putting on display their sad, inherited ideas formed from their parents’ or communities’ alarming support of everything the president says and does—of white supremacy, of hate. But nothing should surprise us anymore.