The White House is so adept at covering for president Trump's routine outbursts, lies and maniacal ranting that they have now coined a new term for it. When Trump says something that is patently untrue or completely insane, these statements are not lies but a "rhetorical response" to whatever is on his mind. Reported the Washington Post today:
At a briefing Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Trump was merely making a “rhetorical response to a criticism” by LaVar Ball when he tweeted of Ball’s son LiAngelo and two UCLA teammates that he “should have left them in jail” in China. Sanders repeatedly claimed that Trump was “happy to intervene” on the players’ behalf.
“I think it was less about the players than the father of one of the Americans really seemed to have a problem with it,” Sanders said. “Frankly, it didn’t seem like the father wanted the president to intervene, which I think would have been a sad thing if he hadn’t, most likely.”
So when Trump said that he "should have left them in jail", he actually meant that he shouldn't have left them in jail, but disagrees with the father about something or the other. How Huckabee Sanders managed this extraordinary display of mental gymnastics is beyond comprehension, but it is a testament to the White House's resolve that they continue to create new and innovative ways to cover up the president's bullshit.
The "rhetorical response" defense is ingenious because it means Trump can now say literally whatever he wants with any fear of repercussion. "I'm going to blow up North Korea tomorrow!" really means "I'm not going to blow up North Korea, but I want to do a trade deal with Japan!". "Hillary Clinton should be thrown in jail!" means "Hillary Clinton shouldn't be thrown in jail, but I do like eating pancakes in the morning!" The potential for the "rhetorical response" is vast and we should expect to see it trotted out more often as Trump continues to lose his grip on objective reality and his team continue their vicious infighting. With National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster calling Trump an “idiot” and a “dope” with the intelligence of a “kindergartner,” you can be sure the "rhetorical response" defense won't be limited to just Trump either. If further evidence of McMaster's outburst is revealed, we should all look forward to hearing the White House's unique interpretation. Suggestions are welcome in the comments section below...