BIDLACK | Have your cake, and eat cheese, too?

Author: Hal Bidlack - July 10, 2018 - Updated: July 9, 2018

Hal Bidlack
Hal Bidlack

It’s been a while – at least a week – since I’ve used a really over-the-top analogy to make a point, so please bear with me: imagine a very conservative gay Colorado couple, who were recently outraged by the Virginia restaurant refusing service to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. This hypothetical couple wanted to do something about it, so they went to their neighborhood bakery to have a special cake made, to send to Ms. Sanders. Unfortunately, in my increasingly tortured example, this couple lives in Lakewood, and went to the bakery that recently won the Supreme Court case that said they could refuse to bake cakes for gay couples on the basis of deeply-held religious beliefs. So, no cake for you.

Regular readers of my columns (hi mom!) will recall a common theme of mine is that I truly detest hypocrisy – even as I admit to having my own streak of that vice. But the recent treatment of Ms. Sanders really pegged my hypocrisy meter. Many of the vary same supporters of our president who applauded the Supreme Court’s cake ruling suddenly found deep moral indignation at the sight of poor Ms. Sanders (who apparently had been given a cheese plate appetizer before being asked to leave) being refused service on the basis of, well, what I assume are deeply held beliefs. Pot? Kettle?

Ms. Sanders is quite simply one of the most dishonest White House press secretaries we’ve ever seen – either through her own lies or by repeating lies told to her. A quick internet search turns up dozens and dozens of false statements made from her lectern. Remember her absolute statement that diversity visa immigrants are not vetted? False. That “the president in no way, form, or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence?” Ma’am, literally have video recordings of him doing the opposite. And the famous Trump Tower meeting which at first, never happened, then it happened but it was about Russian adoption, then it wasn’t. And there is more.

One of two things must be true. Either Ms. Sanders lies herself, or she is an innocent victim of those above her, telling her lies that she then repeats, thinking them true. Neither scenario makes her look too good. If she is truly a person of honor and character, and was being lied to, I would have expected her to resign, and I would have respected her for it. But she hasn’t, so she is either dishonest herself or is complicit in the deceit.

Now far smarter people than me have written about the fundamental dishonestly of this White House and the current Oval Office resident in particular. I believe the most troubling thing about this situation is that far too many Americans have accepted this “new normal” where truth is fungible, facts are alternate, and separating children from parents is just good law enforcement.

Add to this unfortunate state of affairs a group of reporters that has proven itself, time and time again, to lack the needed spine to directly challenge those in power when they lie. I remain deeply disappointed in a White House press corps, who seem unable or unwilling to ask the hard questions that good reporting and, frankly, our nation, deserve and require.

Unfortunately, this second problem is not new, though it has found a new nadir of inadequacy in the Trump White House press room. Many years ago, the Air Force sent me to work on the National Security Council staff at the White House on two different summer academic breaks from teaching political science at the Air Force Academy. I always found the White House press briefing fascinating, and I attended as many of those as I could. I got to know the then-White House Press Secretary a bit. He’s a man who was – and still is – respected for his honestly and character. I asked the gent about my impression that the White House Press corps did not really ask the tough questions, nor did they follow up on answers that seemed inadequate. He answered by saying that I must understand that White House reporters are at the top of their profession. There he paused, I assumed to draw breath to defend them. But he continued “and maybe that tells us something.”

Which brings me back to Ms. Sanders and her cheese plate (Ed: really?). If you think the Fort Collins baker was right to refuse a cake to a gay couple, you should also support the right of the Virginia restaurant owner to not serve Ms. Sanders. But it works the other way too. If you think the Baker should have made the damn cake, then Ms. Sanders should have been able to eat as well. Let them eat cake and cheese.

Hal Bidlack

Hal Bidlack

Hal Bidlack is a retired professor of political science and a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who taught more than 17 years at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.