It’s that time of the year, the week leading up to International Women’s Day, March 8th … la Journée Internationale de la Femme in French, 三八 in Chinese (give those guys a medal for brevity, huh?) …
anyway, it’s that time of year when companies around the country — and probably around the world — line up events and speakers to showcase how woke and attuned they are to women’s empowerment and advancement. To kick of the week, my company (I cropped out the corporate logo in the photo above to avoid any data privacy violations, so just substitute any big company name here) invited Nicolle Wallace.
We cut the cable in our household years ago, and I was outside the U.S. (and generally less interested in politics) during much of the Bush Junior years, but as I found out, Nicolle is currently anchoring a show called Deadline: White House, on MSNBC, and she was formerly Director of Communications for the White House under ‘W’. That’s the same job that Hope Hicks just resigned from(like two days ago), after holding down the position for a record 197 days. That’s a record under Trump, anyway, as she lasted longer than the four guys who had the job before her — combined.
The info-graphic below is one I came across, by coincidence, yesterday morning, just before heading off to hear Nicolle speak.
Back to Nicolle — she was funny, sharp, she totally owned the room about five minutes into her presentation. It was like watching a polished stand-up comedy routine, but by a performer who also has a stellar political resume and is a best-selling author. Also, she had a lot to get off her chest, and much of that — you guessed it — had to do with the Trump administration.
To give you a true flavor of the hour-long session, which was dominated by interactive Q&A, I thought it best to recount some of Nicolle’s most memorable responses. Please note that I am paraphrasing from memory and from the notes that I was furiously typing into my phone while trying not to appear distracted or rude to our keynote speaker.
Right away, the topic veered toward women in the White House. Nicolle expressed empathy for the incredible pressures they must be under, trying to be positive role models for their gender, while serving under a man accused of harassment and sexual assault by at least 16 women. Someone asked how United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has been able to maintain her brand and remain above the fray. She concluded that
Trump’s ignorance of what goes on in the U.N. probably serves Haley well
In response to a question I put to her: “Can Trump be defeated in 2020, and if so, will the successful candidate be a policy wonk, or a populist celebrity-type?”
Nicolle acknowledged that Trump’s poll numbers are dismally low by historical standards, but that if November of 2016 taught us anything, we cannot rely on polls and projections, and given that the only attacks that seem to linger with him are insults to his intelligence and physical shortcomings,
Someone will have to defeat him on hand size
On the moral grandstanding of the administration, specifically Pence’s recent prediction to a socially conservative audience to end legal abortion “in our time”:
Easing access for the mentally ill to obtain guns, while restricting the access of women to contraceptives, and restricting funding for global women’s health programs, shows the hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy of this administration
When asked about why the GOP establishment continues to enable and support Trump:
He probably has pictures of them with farm animals
On Trump’s fitness and preparedness for the office of president:
I guess he can read … he can read a teleprompter, um, right? [raises hands with upward-facing open palms skeptically] Back in 2016, when he got the Republican nomination, I sent him a reading list — don’t think he ever read it, maybe I should have put his name on the cover, to at least get his attention
It’s like Seinfeld — it’s a presidency about nothing
He is Archie Bunker … without the charm
On Russian interference:
If you get the Russia question wrong, nothing else matters. If we let Putin pick our president, nothing else matters.
On the recent school shooting:
The town hall following the Parkland massacre was one of the most amazing things I’ve seen on television. For the first time, survivors of a mass shooting had a national platform, and these kids are smart, articulate, and fearless
On the polarization of the American voting public and the politics of fear:
Yes, the 2016 election played to phobias —if we listen to political fear mongering, if we let ourselves be influenced by online trolls, we’re susceptible to xenophobia, sexism, racism. But when we speak to each other, our communities, face to face, we know that that’s not real. We have to get back to those basic connections, to common decency.
So there it is — I met the most likable and down-to-earth Republican ever. At least she claims she’s a Republican. A nostalgic and frustrated Republican of the mythical party that doesn’t exist anymore. A “non-practicing one” as she defensively describes herself.
And a helluva great speaker.
She had me at Archie …