If the White House calls, just hang up. Put down the phone, run out of the house as if your hair were on fire, change your number and move to a remote town in Saskatchewan where you can live off the grid for the rest of your life.
I say this because answering a call to serve this administration is like getting a bad diagnosis. You have to know it will not end well, and the process will be painful. Think of all the people who would be better off today if they had never heard of Donald Trump or been drawn into his orbit.
For one, Adm. Ronny Jackson, M.D., the president’s physician from central casting, might have continued to serve presidents now and in the future, enjoying the perks and power that access to the White House confers. But according to published reports, Jackson drinks too much and is free and easy with pain pills, but, hey, no one talked about it until Trump decided to promote him to secretary of the Veterans Administration. In the rude glare of the ensuing attention, coworkers and associates came forward with accusations of bad behavior and substance abuse.
Call it the Trump touch. Unvetted, inexperienced and apparently fatally flawed, Jackson eventually “declined” the promotion. The guy is done now. He’s lucky if he doesn’t lose his medical license, all because the president liked his looks and wanted to make him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Jackson joins many others who might have lived productive and successful lives if they hadn’t crossed paths with Trump. Michael Flynn most likely never would have been investigated, indicted and flipped by the feds if he hadn’t joined the Trump campaign. Apparently, you can do a lot of bad, illegal stuff if no one notices, but everyone notices when you become national security adviser. Flynn went from hero to security guru to snitch in just a few months.
Rob Porter, Hollywood handsome and popular among his colleagues, was living large in his high-profile job as the president’s top aide. Porter was lauded as a rising star until the Trump spotlight revealed his dark side. Two of his wives went public with accusations of mental and physical abuse by him. There were photos. Porter took the exit.
Tom Price — do you even remember him? He was the secretary of Health and Human Services for seven months. He might have continued his career elsewhere without incident, but in the Trump administration, he drank the Kool-Aid, took 25 private charter flights in a few months, spent like he was king for a day and resigned amid charges of indiscriminately using taxpayer dollars for his personal benefit. Gone. Certainly Price’s time in the Trump cabinet did not enhance his resume.
I imagine Paul Manafort also has mixed feelings, at best, about his association with Trump Inc. Manafort, charged by the feds with numerous financial crimes, might have continued living the high life, consorting with oligarchs and lining his pockets, if not for Trump’s ascendancy to the presidency. Under the scrutiny that accompanies high office, Manafort proved to be a liability to Trump, and vice versa. The feds are squeezing him like a lemon, but we don’t know yet where that will lead.
Perhaps the sorriest member of the Trump team might be Michael Cohen, the president’s longtime personal lawyer. Cohen is known for his fierce loyalty to Trump. For a little over a decade, he basked in the celebrity surrounding Trump, ran interference for him and solved problems, and it was all good, apparently. Maybe some people didn’t like his style, but his boss did, and that was all that counted.
That was then. Now Cohen is a target of a criminal investigation. His office, hotel room and apartment were raided by government agents. He took the Fifth in the ongoing legal battle with Stormy Daniels, the woman paid off to keep her affair with Trump under wraps. Cohen faces a world of trouble.
Playing fast and loose while Trump was a reality show celeb was one thing. Then the game and the rules changed. The stakes are high, the decisions to be made are life-changing, and the downside is sobering and sad. In a different life, Cohen could have had the successful career he built as a businessman and lawyer. In this life, he hitched himself to Trump’s star, a shooting star, streaking across the sky and into the void.
Copyright 2018 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.