Get Smart

Because my thinking and writing always begins or is inspired by an image, I want to provide one for the exceptionally high staff turnover rate in Trump's White House (this week it's Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of the giant carbon liberation corporation ExxonMobil, and now the former Secretary of State). The image is drawn from a Cold War-era TV comedy, Get Smart, about a daft and bumbling secret agent named Maxwell Smart (Don Adams). He often uses his shoe to make phone calls. He is Agent 86.

In one episode—which I saw many years ago in Harare, Zimbabwe (a socialist country at the time), and have failed to locate on the internet—the enemies of American freedom set up a trap for Agent 86. It is in, of all places, an art gallery. Maxwell Smart is looking at paintings. One of them is crooked. It was turned to the side by Soviet spies. The idea is that when Agent 86 notices the painting is not straight like the others hung in a row on the wall, he will naturally correct it and unwittingly trigger a bomb. It explodes and the US loses a dumb but somehow effective Cold War warrior. And it is here we see the image that corresponds with the current state of Trump's White House.

What does Smart do with the crooked painting? He does not straighten it. Instead, he makes the other paintings crooked. All of that planning and ingenuity comes to nothing. Smart is once again saved by his incredible stupidity. He leaves the exhibit and continues the noble cause of protecting the American freedoms enshrined by the United States Declaration of Independence.

This is Trump's White House. Because he can't stabilize his staff, he has made hiring and firing, the turmoil—the crooked—normal. There can no longer be a week without someone of note (McMaster? Batty DeVos?) leaving the White House because stability must never appear to be not strange. Crooked is now the rule, not the exception.