Sarah the Weed
Ah, budding Spring. I look forward to it every year. Cherry blossoms, bluebells, fragrant lilacs popping up under the sun in the backyard. Irises stretching up later along the side of the house — if the neighbor boys haven’t trampled them again this time around, God love ‘em.
Oh, and weeds. Yes, every year. The avid gardener knows that weeds are a sign of the healthy garden. Some swear by them. They see the absence of weeds as a sure sign of trouble. Of an arid existence. Super clean, too clean. Not enough dirt lying around for the wretched to revel in.
Which always reminds me of national political discourse. You, too?
In any case, I can’t think of planting and weeding without thinking of Farmer Brown. As lean as asparagus, sinewy as chicken wire, and a voice with all the timbre of a washing board. He took me and my sister Cherri out picking come harvest time one fall. (As I recall, it was one of my father’s questionable money-saving schemes. You know — farm out the kids as indentured servants for a day or two in exchange for a weekend of free vegetables.)
There we struggled, a couple of not quite ten year olds, wiping sweat off our brows as we trudged our way up and down the furrows in the paltry shade of his single wide, parked alongside some forgotten, dusty country road in musty Douglas County. About as backwater of the Empire as you can get. My back ached. My calves hurt. My fingers and toes throbbed. I was not having fun. From Cherri’s face, neither was she.
When one, or both, of us whimpered as we paused for a lunch of freshly sliced cucumbers, plucked with our own hands no less, he barked, “That’s because you’re not used to hard work.” Cherri looked at me with so much misery in her eyes that I wanted to ring up OSHA and sue for infraction of child labor laws.
Or I would have, if I hadn’t been only eight or so.
Regardless, Farmer Brown had an interesting theory about weeds: you could always tell the quality of the soil by its weeds. For example, some species flourish in truly godawful ground.
Take Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
It wasn’t that long ago that America used to boast the most transparent Executive Branch of the planet. With daily White House Press Briefings, the President’s spox having to endure an hour or more of ruthless, remorseless, relentless scrutiny by those unsung heroes of the Fourth Estate, the White House Press Corps. Everyday. As sure as death and taxes, there will be a White House Press Briefing. Daily.
Shoot. Even the United Kingdom — that cradle of modern democracy itself — has to wait an entire week before the Prime Minister’s Question Time comes around again. Wednesdays at noon. Only. For half an hour. That’s it. That’s all they get.
Here in the US of A, it’s well over double that and daily. A chance to ask WTF?! about anything under the sky — the price of corn in Nebraska, the source of the latest missile attack on the Yemeni Houthi, the First Lady’s dress designer — you name it. If it has the President’s fingerprints on it, or is at least perceived to, it’s fair game. Daily.
Stretching back over the last century, the White Press Briefings have become as American as apple pie and Mom. We may not get to question the high school principal about why we have to wear school uniforms. We may not get to grill the mayor about why parking spaces at the library are zoned so skinny. But, by gum, we get to hammer the President of the United States (or his spox). Daily.
At least it was.
Until Sarah came to town.
Maybe she found it difficult figuring out so many different ways to spin the myriad allegations of sexual misconduct by the President.
Or perhaps she found it exasperating when reporters actually listened to the bromides she bandied about, such as “The President in no way, form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence.”
Or that they had the effrontery to verify her occasional “slip of the tongue” time and again when she waxed lyrical, as in, “I’ve heard from countless members of the FBI that are grateful and thankful for the president’s decision” to fire James Comey.
Maybe she just got mad being sent to the annual White House Correspondents Dinner — cuz her boss was too chicken to — and got roasted in his stead.
Whatever the reason, after Sarah showed up, the Daily Press Briefings — this proud institution of American democracy — quickly went the way of the tricorn hat. Something only to be pulled out on feast days, and then only as a bit of silly stage theatre.
Goodbye, Sarah. And good riddance.
Au contraire. Those who hoped that her final message, at least, as Press Secretary — in which she proudly threw her children up as a human shield — could be taken at face value, hoped in vain.
Should we be surprised? Not really. It’s not like they have any place else to go. Starbucks doesn’t want them as baristas. McDonald’s (or Red Hen for that matter) won’t even let them behind the grill to flip burgers. And Walmart…
Well, come to think of it, Walmart might hire them to slop out toilets. But then, now that I think of it, Walmart is headquartered in Arkansas. And so is Sarah these days.
There we have it. Mrs. Huckabee Sanders can probably find employment in the Razorback State. And if polishing the privy isn’t her thing, there’s always running for governor. Which, in the minds of some, amounts to the same. There is a wagonload of horseshit at play here, regardless.
Besides, Sarah kicking up her heels in the Little Rock governor’s mansion might be good for the country. It’s only Arkansas, after all, which is fewer people than Puerto Rico when you think about it. How much damage can she do?
Either way, I hark back to Farmer Brown, curmudgeon though he may have been. Maybe a few weeds are healthy for the American garden. However, when they start to take over, he’s right. It’s time to pull ‘em.
Jeff Stilwell is author of the novels Fighting for Eden and Toni’s Smile. He is also author and illustrator of the spiritual works Here and Now: A Whimsical Take on God and Living Here and Now. All are available on Amazon. He is currently at work on this third novel.