Have you heard the big “news”? The White House Comment Line, manned by volunteers from the current administration, shut down on January 14 as Obama transitioned out of the White House, hasn’t been re-activated. Oh, it’s all the buzz. You can go to any of the tabloids like Addicting Info and read all about how Trump has shut himself out from the American people by refusing to take their phone calls. Even Think Progress, a fairly reputable liberal source, ran with the hyperbole, because…it’s so easily believable.
Unfortunately for us, it’s true…but only to a certain extent. It is true that the comment line isn’t being manned; it’s not true that Trump has shut out the American people. The comment line directs callers to the White House website where they can fill out a written form. It also tells callers to use Facebook Messenger, which is currently NOT working. So, they obviously have some kinks to work out (or they actually are horrible liars). But, either way, that’s all beside the point since the premise of this entire deceptively-presented story is that Donald Trump will be a tyrant who won’t listen to the people.
Well… Of course he won’t listen, but that’s no different from any Republican president. The fact is there are several ways to contact the White House, including the main switchboard, which when I called was answered by a person who asked if I had a message for the president. Not exactly scandalous. While the whole thing makes for a great headline, there is one little detail from a report from The LA Times that everyone seems to be overlooking. In a story about how the comment line won’t be down long, the Times reported:
There are plans to get the phone line back up soon, though there is no confirmed time yet. For now, Trump aides are focused on getting acclimated.
‘We’re still learning how to work our computers,’ press assistant Giovanna Coia said by phone.
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Well then…While the Trump administration may not be hiding from collecting public comments, they are truly a band of imbeciles. The Obama White House used Macs, replacing the Bush-era PCs they found unreliable, meaning the President and his staff have the option to use whatever computers and operating system they desire. Presumably, there will be protocols for encryption, internet access and the like, but computers are nothing new and learning to use them isn’t rocket science. If you don’t possess that level of technical merit, do you really belong in a place like the West Wing?
It does kind of work out in their favor to claim stupidity and ineptitude as the reason for a significant line of communication being closed to the public. After all, convincing the people who Trump hired a bunch of buffoons without the necessary skills to staff a telemarketing office is much easier than saying something as absurd as “we don’t have volunteers in place yet.”