& Banging around in my head the last few days are some snippets from an old song the Back Porch Majority sang years ago about a New Orleans waterfront gal named Slippery Sal who allowed a fella named Dirty Dan the Oyster Man to buy her a mess of grits in a Bourbon Street eatery and then ducked out on him – “went sliding out the back door with somebody new.”
That’s why they called her Slippery Sal.
But, the ballad said, “you didn’t do that to Dirty Dan the Oyster Man,” and old Sal found out, the hard way: “She was most all of her life the devil’s own wife, till old Dirty got her with his oyster knife.”
And that was the end of old Slippery Sal.
The song ended with a bit of advice: “If you’re walking down Bourbon Street, be careful where you put your feet. Likely as not, if you step on that spot where old Sal died — you’re going to sliiiiiiide a lot.”
Don’t know why, but I started humming that ditty the other day in the midst of the 24/7 coverage of all the little tidbits popping up in the pages of Robert Mueller’s report on the goings on around and on behalf of your president (he sho’ ain’t mine, loyal readers). The tidbit that prompted my humming was the one about tRump’s press secretary, Sarah Sanders.
It had to do with a press briefing Ms. Sanders conducted Wednesday, May 10, 2017, the day after the Madman of Mar-A-Lago had fired FBI Director Jim Comey. Reporters were wondering why. Why fire Comey only a few years into his 10-year appointment as America’s top cop? After all, he was a loyal Republican, the one who had even dropped the 11th hour bomb that blew up Hillary Clinton’s campaign, thus ensuring a victory for Donald J. Trump.
So, Sarah, why? There had been all sorts of leaks and rumors about the real reason flying around. One of the explanations: The employees at the FBI – a whole lot of them — didn’t like their boss. Sarah took the podium to say many people in the Department of Justice and Congress had “lost confidence” in Comey. Then, looking down at the lecturn and reading a script, “most importantly, the rank and file of the FBI has lost confidence in the director.” Reporters had been hearing the opposite. In fact, said one reporter, he and others were told that Comey was supported by the “vast majority” of his agents.
With the great confidence and assurance of Richard I-Am-Not-A-Crook Nixon, she began her response with the four-letter mot du jour, “look,” which carries the meaning “you-effing-dummy-please-get-your-head-out-of-your-ass-and-understand”:
“Look, we’ve heard from countless members of the FBI that say very different things.”
But press kept pressing. A reporter asks her: “You personally have talked to countless FBI officials, employees, since this happened?”
Reporter: “I mean, really?”
Sarah (nodding): “emails, text messages, absolutely.”
Drop the mic on that one. After Sanders had retreated back to the bowels of the White House, the Mueller team tells us, tRump was waiting to praise her for her performance, which must have included no inaccuracies, because he mentioned none.
A day later, Comey’s second-in-charge Andrew McCabe, suddenly elevated to acting director of the FBI, told a Senate committee that Comey “enjoyed broad support within the FBI, and still does to this day.”
Another scribe then caught up with Sanders. So, Sarah, the reporter asked her, why are you telling that story about rank-and-file dissatisfaction with Comey when McCabe is saying otherwise?
Sarah persisted. “Well… I’ve heard from countless members of the FBI that are grateful and thankful for the President’s decision. And I think that we may have to agree to disagree… I certainly heard from a large number of individuals…”
Apparently wanting to get his press secretary off the hook because he’s such a caring, sensitive guy, the Orange Agent went on tv with NBC’s Lester Holt to explain that the reason he fired Comey was “this Russia thing.” Well! That certainly saved Sarah. The newshounds went streaking after the scent of a more logical reason the FBI director was fired, having to do with Comey’s refusal to call off his hounds, who were sniffing around the odor rising from that “Russia thing”.
There had been a large number of questions – shall we say countless? – remaining about the truthfulness of Sarah Sanders, but they got left in the dust of the ensuing events of 2017.
Now, through the magic of time travel, we flash forward a year to July 3, 2018, when Ms. Sanders sat down for an on-the-record-swear-to-god session with agents of the special prosecutor, Mr. Mueller, who wanted to ask her about those days when those countless — countless! — FBI agents were telling her of their disapproval with Jim Comey.
Finding herself across the table from officers of the law, Ms. Sanders remembered a different version. Neither wishing to get her culottes in an ever-deepening crack nor wishing to trade them in for prison orange, she fessed up. The reference to “countless members of the FBI,” she told them, was a “slip of the tongue.” As for her tale about the uncountable number of grateful FBI agents who were damn near religiously moved by the OA’s decision to fire Comey? Well, er, ah… that statement was made “in the heat of the moment [and] was not founded on anything.”
Strangely, however, she never cleared up that slip-slip-slip of the tongue in a subsequent not-so-heated moment in the press briefing room. She just lied and let it slide.
So, like old Sal before her, Sarah Sanders deceived those she had asked to trust her, tripped over her slippery tongue, and got caught sliding out the back door. Too bad; we may never again hear her spewing fake news in the White House press briefing room. And who could blame her for disappearing? There are many, many ink-stained descendants of old Dirty Dan lying in wait for her, not with oyster knives, but with far more dangerous implements – pencils, pens, microphones and computer keyboards.
Let’s not leave this tale from the Creepy Crypt of the Mar-A-Lago Madman without a word of advice to whomever replaces Slippery Sarah at the White House press room podium: Be careful where you put your feet…if you step on THAT spot…
& Having to agree that there were, indeed, countless complaints against Comey – the most uncountable number of all being zero – I’m outta here.