Sometimes the best way to define a thing is to talk about what it is not, or rather, what it avoids. When watching Kellyanne Conway defend Donald Trump – an exercise not dissimilar from having to endure the torments of the Netherworld she alleges to believe in – one is struck by her seeming constitutional inability to straightforwardly field a direct question. Conway employs a myriad of gimmicks in this avoidance, beginning by insisting that her interlocutor, by virtue of some fundamental hypocrisy, is not worthy to ask the question in the first place. This typically takes the form that the asker, his or her network or the party he or she represents has, for example, “never been fair to the president,” so how dare they ask?
Once the questioner has made a point she cannot avoid fielding, the question is dispatched utilizing the change of subject to a direct lie. “The president,” she recently averred to CNN host Chris Cuomo, “is breaking the back of the opioid crisis.” When challenged that Trump is doing no such thing, she changed the subject to Fox News, insisting, believe it or not, that Cuomo is jealous of them.
Finally there’s the Conway patented sleight-of-hand whataboutism. What about Hillary, what about Obama, what about the wicked Democrats and their underhanded National Committee, punctuated by endless interruptions with quotations of manufactured statistics.
So what does Kellyanne Conway actually believe? Before she worked for Trump, when she was CEO and president of The Polling Company, when she frequently gave her expert opinion on national television during the 2016 election, she claimed Trump was a charlatan, a cheater of contractors, the huckster behind Trump University, a liar, unwilling to release his tax returns because he had something to hide, a bogus businessman and an assaulter of women. She knew then that when one’s opinions are supported by facts they can be adduced without need to resort to obfuscation, and she reported those opinions calmly, without needing to cut anyone off. Does she still believe those things? Judge for yourself.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.