Sure, other things happened last week—ABC decided to keep making Roseanne but without Roseanne Barr; some nerds came up with a plan to remake Star Wars: The Last Jedi; that guy from Saturday Night Live got engaged to Ariana Grande—but, honestly, there’s only been one story that people were really talking about, and it’s not a light one. From jackets to missing girls (told you it wasn’t light) and back again, via failures of democracy and terrible press briefings, here’s what has been happening on the internet over the last seven days.
Reactions to Trump's Border Policy Get Much Worse
What Happened: The Trump administration created a problem, then claimed it couldn’t fix it until the bad PR got out of hand.
What Really Happened: It can't have escaped your notice—not least of all because we mentioned it last week that the United States has been separating parents and children at the southern border recently, as part of a new policy from the Trump administration. Last week, things came to a head.
The week started with the revelation that it was a familiar figure who claimed responsibility for the policy—
But, according to some inside the administration, it wasn’t actually a policy at all. Obviously. (This is a lie, by the way.)
That’s from a press briefing that, apparently, even Sarah Huckabee Sanders didn’t want to handle.
As protest against the policy grew, an unusual thing happened: All the living former First Ladies came out to publicly condemn it.
…We’ll get to what the current First Lady was up to soon enough. In the face of this response, however, President Trump turned his back on his own arguments and attempted to roll back the worst of the policy … on the face of it, at least.
It didn’t actually deal with the problem, though.
As of this writing, it seems as though families may no longer be referred for prosecution even as military bases are being prepped to hold 20,000 migrants, the Department of Justice has officially asked to modify the Flores settlement limiting child incarceration to 20 days and officials are now claiming that 500 families have been reunited since May. What is actually happening? No one seems to know. Clearly, only Congress could fix things now. But keep reading to find out if they do or not.
The Takeaway: Really, this says it all.
[Sad Trombone Noise]
What Happened: It turns out that some people still get upset when you make fun of kids being separated from their parents at the border.
What Really Happened: Hey, remember former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski? Last week he went on TV and this happened.
Immediately, many people noticed, because of course they did. How can you mock the story of a girl with Down syndrome being forcibly separated from her mother and not provoke widespread outrage? It was so bad that even conservatives turned on him.
Some wondered if this was a career-ending mistake (or, at least, hoped that it would be).
As it turned out, at least one organization cut ties with him as a result of his comments. Still, Lewandowski had a plan to get out of it all: Refuse to apologize and pretend it hadn’t actually happened the way everyone happened to see it because it was on live television.
On the, uh, "plus side"…? Lewandowski has now been even more embraced by the far right as a result of his comments, so there's that.
The Takeaway: Of course, why should we be surprised about any of this?
Just Sitting Here on Capitol Hill
What Happened: For many, the one hope as the news from the border continued to spread was that Congress could somehow magically sort things out. It wasn’t a good week for people with that hope.
What Really Happened: As the heat continued to come about the Trump administration’s immigration policies, U-turn or no—really, who can actually tell at this point?—President Trump continued to try and shift blame ahead of a Congressional vote on potential immigration reform.
The whole, "Listen, I can’t believe those Democrats are totally responsible for everything" excuse turned out to be a plan of attack for other Republicans, as well.
The Democrats weren’t buying it.
And neither were experts.
For what it’s worth, the media was equally unconvinced, opting to go with the more real version of events: Separating parents and children is a Trump administration policy, and Republicans control all branches of government right now so it’s actually pretty hard for the Democrats to really be that obstructionist on anything. You might be wondering: How did the vote go, after that ramp-up?
Damn those Democra—wait, there’s more:
As a vote on the so-called "compromise" bill got delayed until the following week, the president took to Twitter to once again.
Ah, yes. "Wasting time on immigration." That sounds about right, right now.
The Takeaway: If only there was some way to link this particular thread of the immigration story up with an earlier thread…
Oh, right. That’ll do it.
Who Where Why
What Happened: With so little transparency into what’s going on, it’s no surprise that there’s one question hanging over events as they slowly unfold. It’s a very simple question with disturbing implications.
What Really Happened: As if everything about the current border crisis wasn’t disturbing enough, the little access the media has had to the detention centers children are being kept in—US Border Patrol doesn’t want to call them cages, we found out this week, even though they are cages—has been … lacking something.
Remember the Kirstjen Nielsen briefing referenced earlier? It turns out, someone asked her about this very question, and the answer wasn’t particularly reassuring.
At some point this week, it looked as if an answer might be forthcoming.
Unfortunately, this turned out to be, at best, an optimistic estimate.
The Takeaway: As media interest grows, observers are no closer, it seems, to actually seeing where the girls are being held, even as allegations of abuse in detention centers start to surface. Still, does everyone agree that this is bad? Oh, maybe not.
When Jackets Turn Into Subtweets
What Happened: You know what would make matters worse? A passive aggressive photo opportunity in the middle of this whole thing. But passive aggressive towards who?
What Really Happened: As all of this was unfolding, the Melania Trump jetted off to Texas for a visit to the border to see what was happening for herself. However, many people were more concerned by what the First Lady chose to wear while boarding the plane than the trip itself.
To be precise, she didn’t wear the jacket in Texas; just boarding the plane in DC. Oh, and then getting off the plane on the return flight, after everyone had gotten upset about the whole thing. (And, oh boy, did people get upset about this.)
But it was all part of a plan, apparently. Well, according to everyone’s favorite 4-D chess player, at least.
That was certainly some plan; presumably the entire point was to make Melania seem like an amazingly uncaring and unlikable person?
And certainly the First Lady’s team agreed that’s what it was…
So, clearly, the thing she doesn’t care about is … her principles? No, wait. Help us out here.
The Takeaway: Yes, everything is going really well here, thanks for asking.
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