A few years ago it was my sad duty to tell a disappointed friend — an Englishman with a Sandhurst accent as it happened — that many of his favorite witty Churchillian comebacks reported by armchair historians simply weren’t true. Apparently most of the anecdotes that persist in popular culture, where Churchill delivers a stinging riposte to Bessie Braddock or someone of equivalent stature, never actually occurred. Once again life as it really happens isn’t quite as witty and wonderful as life as we wish it would happen.
Except when it comes to Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy’s persistently masochistic penchant for setting himself up. You’d think by now he’d be tired of playing Lady Astor to Jen Psaki’s Churchill. It seems that every time he opens his masked mouth to deliver yet another bit of propaganda from the Fox News playbook he gets instantaneously put in his place by the President’s Press Secretary.
In an attempt to create a false equivalency between President Biden and the former guy, Doocy recently said, “In 2020 when almost 200,000 Americans had already died of Covid, Joe Biden said about Trump, ‘Anyone responsible for that many deaths should not remain as President of the United States of America.’ Is that still the standard now that more Americans have died under President Biden than president Trump?”
To which the inimitable Ms. Psaki retorted, “I think the fundamental question here is ‘what are you doing to save lives and protect people?’ And the former president was suggesting that people inject bleach. He apparently reportedly didn’t even share with people he was going to interact with that he had tested positive for Covid himself. He continued to provide a forum for misinformation which probably led to people not taking steps forward to protect themselves, to wear masks to eventually get vaccinated. This President has made the vaccine widely available, he has relied on the advice of his health and medical experts, and he is trying to be a part of solving this crisis, getting the pandemic under control and I think there’s a pretty stark difference between their approaches.”
If I didn’t know better I could easily believe that Doocy’s principal job is creating memes for the Lincoln Project or Occupy Democrats, or, even better still, pro-Democratic political ads for the midterm elections. Of course, I’m not so naive that I don’t understand that Doocy’s goal is to get the talking point out there to poison the minds of stupid Americans. But you’d think he’d work a little harder and be more clever about it. And anyone who shows just the question and not Jen Psaki’s brilliant answer is going to look like they’re trying to hide something, as indeed they should.
That Doocy should ask that particular question on the heels of the recent revelation that Trump knew he’d tested positive for Covid before meeting with Gold Star Families and prior to a presidential debate made his (Doocy’s) venture into that particular topic especially stupid. Will he learn his lesson? Like Lady Astor and Bessie Braddock of the popular Churchill fables, apparently not.
I think it’s safe to say there are more startling revelations about Trump coming our way, just like the one where he knowingly and recklessly exposed people to his Covid infection. Luckily, when it comes to giving good advice, Doocy and company are deaf. So when I suggest they’d be much better off never bringing the former guy into their silly anti-Biden propaganda I know it’s advice they’re unlikely to follow. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.