Sometimes, commentary is superfluous. Take this whole Rob Porter thing.
It seems we can look at three headlines over the last week and get most of the story.
- Washington Post: “Senior White House official to resign after ex-wives’ allegations of abuse”
- CNN: “The White House has repeatedly lied about Rob Porter. Here’s a timeline”
- Politico: “Lawmakers losing confidence in White House after Porter resignation”
I’m tempted to add “Hope Hicks and disgraced Rob Porter no longer dating” from the Daily Mail, but that sounds a little snarky. I see no need for additional commentary.
There are a couple of things that almost didn’t hit my radar, but I’m sure glad they did. Texas Monthly reported that Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick will prevent the filming of the Wendy Davis filibuster scene inside the Texas Senate Chamber for the proposed biopic Let Her Speak—that is, if he can. Once again, anything I might say about the biopic or Patrick would read as obvious and what the French call “de trop.”
However, Mrs. Patrick’s suggestion that Dan Aykroyd play her husband was the kind of necessary commentary only a spouse could deliver. Not superfluous at all—particularly as it reminds us that Republicans can have a sense of humor, too. (Not that the Democrats are displaying much of one these days either.)
Then there was the unveiling of the portraits of the Obamas for the National Portrait Gallery. While the reaction by many was robust or even visceral, there will be no commentary on the portraits from me. Instead, I only have an observation. Namely, when people jump in feet first on a subject—politics, art, or anything else—about which they know precious little, what they say will reveal more about themselves than it will about the topic at hand. ‘Nuff said.
And something happened last month that I didn’t even hear about until this week. Perhaps because I didn’t know such a thing as the Economist Intelligence Unit existed or that it rates governments—kind of like a Standard & Poor’s of democracy. Remember the weeping and gnashing of teeth when S&P downgraded the credit rating of the U. S. Federal government back in 2011? Well, hang on.
The Democracy Index published last month downgraded the U. S. government. Not its credit rating, mind you. The government itself. In one swoop, we went from “full democracy” to “flawed democracy,” removing the citizenry (that means you, me and most of the people reading this column) from the 9% of the world population that enjoys living in a fully flowered democracy. Isn’t that a kick in the head?
And stating the reason for this is downgrade is not superfluous, as some might think. Take a look at what the authors of the index said (as quoted in Fortune): “Popular trust in government, elected representatives and political parties has fallen to extremely low levels in the U.S. This has been a long-term trend and one that preceded the election of [Donald] Trump as U.S. president in November 2016.” Should we infer that Trump is not the problem with our flawed democracy? So he’s just part of a trend?
Looks like some of us have been so busy losing trust in government, elected representatives and political parties to even notice that we got downgraded, much less that we’re playing a role in the decline.
Of course, we could play a role in stopping the decline, but that’s a different column. And one that might not be de trop at all. Not even around the edges.