Each new day under the Trump administration brings fresh evidence to support the old adage about truth being “stranger than fiction.”
The fact that Donald Trump is the President of the United States is a surreal state of affairs in and of itself, but when viewed in the context of the populist fever that was sweeping across Europe as his campaign went into overdrive, it’s not as far-fetched as it seems on the surface.
Europe’s refugee crisis – which worsened materially in 2015 as the influx of humanity fleeing the war-torn Mideast reached crisis proportions – opened the door for political opportunists to play on the fears of already disaffected voters in Western democracies. Those interested in a play-by-play of how the political environment underwent an epochal shift in 2015 are encouraged to check out the lengthy “Wrong Side Of History“.
Although no one (save perhaps Steve Bannon, who earlier this year told Marine Le Pen supporters they should “wear accusations of racism like a badge of honor”) wants to admit to harboring xenophobic feelings, fear is a powerful thing. Today’s populists have managed to legitimize racism in the eyes of their supporters by equating immigration with broader concepts like globalization and multiculturalism which have been variously blamed for economic outcomes like stagnating wages for the middle class in developed economies.
In that context, it’s not entirely surprising that Trump’s message resonated and as such, it’s perhaps not as surreal as it seems that he’s President.
What is continually surprising however, is the extent to which he has not “disappointed” when it comes to saying and doing things that are so outlandish as to elude attempts to lampoon them. It’s difficult to be a satirist in the age of Trump because the outcomes his actions and words precipitate are their own jokes. This is on display every, single day and perhaps Trump’s crowning achievement in turning reality into a cartoon is “Space Force”, a theoretical sixth branch of the military.
Space Force made its debut on March 13 when, after touring the eight border wall prototypes that are currently gathering dust in the San Diego desert, Trump told a group of soldiers gathered at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, that because “space is a war fighting domain”, the U.S. would soon need to create an army of actual space marines. “We’re going to Mars soon”, he added.
Despite myriad attempts on the part of apologists to explain that Trump was either joking or at the very least, simply putting his own spin on an idea that’s been floated in one form or another during previous administrations, Trump made it abundantly clear just six weeks later that when he says “Space Force” he means “Space Force”.
On May 1, while speaking at a White House event for the Army Black Knights college football team, Trump reiterated his intention to create a sixth military branch focused on space. Hilariously, he polled the audience on the idea, asking “does that make sense?”
I can answer that: “No.” No, it doesn’t make sense. At least not the way Trump is thinking about it.
But it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks because, again, Trump is the President, which in 2018, apparently means he can do whatever he wants, up to and including creating an army of intergalactic soldiers on the off chance we run into any resistance when we get to Mars.
Fast forward to June 18, and just in case anyone still thought he was joking, he made if (semi) official:
On Tuesday night, while in Florida playing one of his bi-weekly MAGA concerts, Trump delivered the following update on his space initiative:
Yes, “building the space force.”
Or maybe not, because when pressed on the issue Wednesday, Sarah Huckabee Sanders had a tough time explaining … well … she had a tough time explaining what exactly it is the President is thinking when it comes to spending God knows how much taxpayer money in the pursuit of a space army.
“The Defense Department today missed a deadline to submit a report to Congress about how this space force is to be structured and we’re told that the White House has now twice rejected drafts because the Defense Department doesn’t want a space force,” one reporter said, on the way asking “how the President plans to force the creation of Space Force.”
You can watch Sanders attempt to navigate choppy waters below and coming full circle, what I would encourage you to do here is think back to five years ago and imagine what you would have said if someone had told you that soon enough, America would witness a White House press secretary being compelled to explain to the media how President Donald Trump plans to go about overriding the express recommendation of the Pentagon on the way to creating a literal space army.
Let’s zoom in on Sarah as she realizes she’s just inadvertently called on someone with a “Space Force” question…
That, ladies and gentlemen, is what it looks like, when someone (Sanders) is just as bemused as everyone else when it comes to explaining exactly what is going on and otherwise trying to reconcile what common sense dictates should be fiction, with what is in fact, reality.