The media does not in general talk about this, but in addition to its bold corruption, one of the other defining features of the Trump administration is a sweeping, belligerent ignorance. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was, we emphasize again, a frothing House Republican hard-liner before Trump elevated him to being In Charge Of Things. He did not become secretary of state for his, cough, expertise.
Thanks to Trump turning over most foreign policy to Rudy Giuliani's out-of-control shroom habit, Pompeo does not currently have a day job. That means he is free to be a troll on Twitter, the other other defining feature of our new fascist overlards.
Here is Mike Pompeo, secretary of state in theory, responding to the speaker of the House tearing up a copy of Trump's white nationalist speech to Congress on Monday night.
Ah yes, the old liberal tears bit. A Limbaugh classic.
There are several problems with this bold Pompeo dive into popular culture. A lot of problems, actually. The Simpsons image in question is from the season three episode “Mr. Lisa Goes To Washington.” In it, Lisa Simpson, who is canonically the smartest person in her family and, off and on, one of the smartest people in Springfield, wins a rah-rah-America essay contest and goes to present her essay in Washington. While there, she witnesses an act of corruption: a congressman asking for and receiving a bribe. She is so devastated that she returns to her room, crying, and rips her rah-rah Americanisms to pieces. She has learned that they are a lie.
Stop me if any of this is hitting oddly close to home.
So what ex-congressperson Mike Pompeo is snickering about is a truly patriotic (cartoon) American who learned of an act of grotesquely anti-American corruption and objected to it. Was saddened by it. Was angered by it. And refused to abide it. That, ex-congressperson Mike Pompeo hipsterly sneers as he attempts to dodge consequences for a corruption scandal he himself played a key role in, is just like what Nancy Pelosi did last night.
The Simpsons has been preternaturally on-target with many of its satires, over its many years, but they did not get this one right. In the episode, Lisa responds to witnessing corruption by writing a new essay, one blasting her congressman and Washington and America all, delivering the searing results to a gasping crowd—and the bribe-seeking congressman is immediately arrested.
That would not happen today. Today, a Republican secretary of state would have found footage of her tearing up her speech or delivering her new one and would have delivered it up to a frothing base. The congressman would not be arrested; instead, White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney would hold a press conference attacking the child, insisting that cash-for-laws is in fact how things are done "all the time" and that the socialist little girl should just "get over it."
Targeted for her opposition, the child would be the subject of weeks of contemptuous Fox News programming. Conservative congressmen and pundits alike would attack her hair, her clothes,; her thighs. Allies of bribery and corruption would put posters featuring her name and words behind them as they condemned her from the House floor. Her home address would be broadcast over the internet. Conservative reactionaries would use Zillow to determine the square footage and rough floor plan.
Sen. Rand Paul, in particular, would have things to say. He would have theories about why this witness came forward, rather than shutting up and letting the corruption continue. Sen. Lindsey Graham would have theories. Sean Hannity would have theories. Who was the child working for? What motive could the child have to tell us not to be corrupt with such clearly orchestrated anger?
All of this for witnessing an act of bribery and speaking out against it. And this is not a guesstimate of what would happen; it is the script, as written in the real world of today instead of by the writers of an animated show that once stood apart for its unusual televised cynicism.
So yes, Mike Pompeo using that particular image to attack enemies of Dear Leader who will not abide by Dear Leader's demands for rampant corruption is on point. Couldn't have said it better ourselves.
Pompeo has had a remarkable few weeks. He has continued to evade his own enabling acts in removing a U.S. ambassador who was not properly enabling Rudy Giuliani's destabilizing acts against Ukraine. He has clammed up about the crime that John Bolton and others are quite certain he witnessed. He was sent into a fit when an NPR reporter asked him a question about it. He continues to lie about all of it. He no longer pretends at dignity or statesmanship, but has settled more fully into a new role as hyperpartisan attack dog targeting anyone Dear Leader might want targeted.
He is himself a cartoon.