Press Talk: The Donalds still together

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Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian's editor emeritus. His column of personal opinion appears the first Saturday of every month. Reach him at lounews1@gmail.com.

Dear Mr. President,

OK, OK, those first 100 days were a real mess, right? Look, I know you’re the spin master, and you love to blame absolutely everybody else for your shortcomings, but — come on, sir — it’s beginning to feel more and more like your training for this most important gig is coming from Honey Boo Boo.

Let’s hope this second 100 days will be much, much more outstanding, terrific, tremendous. You can begin with fewer adjectives and more complete sentences.

Now, before I get into the crux of this letter, I want to be upfront with you, Mr. President. I’m part of the mainstream media. You say you hate us, but I’m pretty sure you secretly admire us. Maybe even love us. I bet if we met, you might want to give me a kiss. No kidding. Hey once — OK, twice — I kissed a politician. How can we be so bad with kissing going on? So less name calling and more smooching. Trust me.

But I digress. The point of this letter, Mr. President, is your campaign pledge to drain the swamp. Remember, Mr. President? Sure, you do. And this isn’t like all those other campaign promises you went back on, Mr. President. This was the mother of all pledges, Mr. President. The “This is the big one! You hear that, Elizabeth? I’m coming to see ya, honey!” pledge.

Now, Mr. President, I know all about swamps. Heck, I’m a Gator. And frankly, the Everglades could use a good draining. Someone slipped too many dang bad-boy anacondas in there. Speaking of slipping too many bad boys into the swamp (you like that transition, Mr. President?), what, in the name of good governance, were you thinking when you gave Don Benton a job in the federal government?

Yes, Benton. The other Donald. As in, the former state senator and director of environmental services right here in Clark County. Really, Mr. President?  I mean, when this character was hired to run the county’s environmental services department, he couldn’t tell the difference between compost and carne asada. Yeah, carne asada!

But the good ol’ boy network over here gave him the gig. You know, the good ol’ boy network you railed against in your campaign.

So, how do you square this with you being a man of your word and all? You’re the anti-government, for goodness sake. You were going to clean up the mess. You hated the overspending. You despised the eight guys leaning on their shovels when one guy digs the hole.

And then, you went and picked Boss Hogg Benton. He’s a bad boy, Mr. President. Why, one day after writing a few marginally critical columns about him, I rubbed shoulders with this guy at a county council meeting. I put out my hand for what I thought would be a warm greeting. After all, even bad-boy politicians know how the world works. It’s just business, my holding him accountable.

So what did Benton do with my hand extended? He refused to shake. Instead, he had a few kind words for me: “You’re a scumbag, Lou.”

Oh my!

And this is the guy you want running the Selective Service System? All those young men and women. This guy? Really, Mr. President?

Speaking of the Selective Service System, why is that even a department?

All of that taxpayer money propping up a department that — let’s be honest now, Mr. President — we really don’t need. And now we have a guy you don’t need running a department you don’t need! Classic government.

You think I’m kidding? Anybody know the last time someone was drafted around these parts? That’s what that department does. Keeps track of people we’re going to do absolutely nothing with. And they’ve been doing it for decades. Your government at work.

Oh, I get some people will disagree with me on this last point. Some will even argue, with you as president, it’s even more likely we’ll need a draft. Don’t hold your breath. There will never be another draft. Take it to the bank. Too many rich people with connections with sons and daughters who might get drafted.

So what you really should be doing, Mr. President, is dissolving that entire department. And you’d rid yourself of that Benton guy in the process. And, by the way, Benton is used to seeing a department dissolve right before his very eyes. That’s the way the county made him vanish around here.

Now, I was wondering what my buddy Benton thought of this new, sweet gig, so I texted him Friday.

“I have asked you repeatedly not to harass me. You are not my buddy. I am a private citizen and you are continuing to harass me on my private number provided to you illegally by Clark County.”

Wait. What? You’re a public figure on a public payroll! There’s nothing private about that. What am I going to do with you, Donald?

Mr. President, are you getting it now? Do you really want this to be your guy?

Now, Mr. President, I’m counting on you to do the right thing. If you’d like to talk it over, you know how to get in touch with me.

Thank you Mr. President. Oh, one more thing, Mr. President. Please quit filling the swamp with swamp things. And don’t do (any more) stupid stuff.


Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian’s editor emeritus. His column of personal opinion appears the first Saturday of every month. Reach him at lounews1@gmail.com.