I had this strange vision a few days ago while watching C-Span, proven to promote of out-of-body experiences. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Arkansas-born-and-raised and the daughter of a former Arkansas governor, was delivering the daily briefing in the White House press room. She was standing in for Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, who was otherwise occupied. Sanders is principal deputy to Spicer, but of course her true boss is the president of the United States, who is said to be fond of her, to value her, perhaps more so than he does Spicer. Regardless of his appreciation of either, he has repeatedly hung them out to dry, sending them before ever more aggressive and skeptical White House correspondents, who sniff blood.
This day was no exception. There was in-coming, a lot of it. The President’s firing of the FBI director was the subject. Sanders, hapless, felt compelled, or had been ordered, to stick to an explanation for the debacle that Mr. Trump himself already had rendered inoperative.
So, the vision: my phone rings, and its Ms. Huckabee-Sanders father.
“What do you think?” he asks.
“You know me, Governor. I never give politicians advice.”
Silence follows. Then the paternal in me takes hold and, father-to-father:
“Get her out of there, out of the White House,” I tell Huckabee. “Tell her to say she wants to spend more time with her family. Everyone will know that’s baloney but they’ll also understand.”
“That bad?” he asks.
“I think so. If she wants to work again in national politics, she’s got to resign as fast as she can type the letter. If she doesn’t she might as well leave her Rolodex behind and just take a handful of Trump ties as mementos.” I think to mention that said cravats are uniformly ugly and absurdly overpriced, their Chinese manufacture notwithstanding. But since Huckabee had boasted of wearing a Trump tie during one of the early Republican presidential debates last year, only to have Trump use it to strangle him and the other GOP candidates, I hold my tongue. Besides, daughter Sarah had managed his campaign, which ended after the first delegate selection contest, so let ’16 alone. Huckabee the Dad had enough to worry about without being reminded of the shipwreck in Iowa with Huckabee the Daughter at the helm.
Still: “There’s, uh, there’s one more thing…”
“I think she’ll need a lawyer.”
“I was afraid you’d say that. But she hasn’t done anything!”
“Doesn’t matter,” I tell Huckabee. “You were governor during the Whitewater years. So you’ll recall that dozens of Arkansas people who hadn’t done anything wrong had to get lawyers. Cost them a fortune, and all that some of them, maybe most of them, had done was work for Clinton. Or just hang around with him, if that. Sarah wasn’t even a teenager when it began, and she had schoolwork to do, so she’s only read about it. But you remember.”
“And it’s headed there?” Huckabee groans.
“My guess. When the subpoenas start arriving with their invitations to interview at the prosecutor’s office, or before the grand jury, or a Congressional committee, you’re nuts if you don’t have a seasoned attorney to prep you, look out for you, and they don’t come cheap. And,” I cleared my throat, “if past is prologue, her husband may need a lawyer, too. And tell them both to prepare to have every piece of paper in their house subpoenaed.”
The C-Span that invited my vision, or whatever it was, abruptly ended it; a dozen reporters were shouting a question in unison, and Huckabee-Sanders, trying her best to avoid a deer-in-the-headlights expression, was trying her best to effect a smile. Sure enough, Huckabee-Sanders was skewered last week on [begin ital] Saturday Night Live [end ital]. Predictably, her father rose to her defense.
Parody should be the least of their concerns. It would be easier to feel sorry for her had she not signed on with Mr. Trump after her father’s departure from the ’16 field (and Dad, too, soon climbed aboard.) At 34, she’s her own woman, capable of making her own decisions. Though she may be young and too inexperienced to serve in her present capacity, she’s anything but a dummy. So why enlist in the campaign of, and join the administration of, a demonstrably unsuitable, unqualified megalomaniac?
It is a fair question for Huckabee-Sanders, though it would be more appropriate, more important, to pose it to scores of older, supposedly wiser individuals now in government positions more crucial than hers, who leapt at the chance to help Make America Great Again.