I have tried to avoid commenting on the circus going on these days in Washington. I have really tried.
But the other night, it suddenly became impossible.
Who would believe it was the Oscars that would do me in?
Trying to write a humor column, free from President Trump’s influence, gets harder with every passing week.
Between the things he says and does, and what everyone else says and does about him, trying to ignore him is like sitting under the traffic light at the foot of the Willowdale bridge when the sun is blazing directly behind it.
It’s hard to block out that sun and still see anything useful.
So I turned to the Oscars, in all their bubble and froth, for a break from the news.
And what happens?
As the young people say, “It suddenly got real.”
Just at the very end, a giant screw-up happens live, on stage, and they give the Best Picture award to the wrong movie!
To be specific, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway give the award to the wrong movie.
This has become my favorite moment of any awards show, ever, of all time — because it showed people being human, in the moment, trying to figure something out.
And one person rose above.
“La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz took control of the rudderless ship, went to the microphone, and said, “You guys, I’m sorry, no. There’s a mistake…. This is not a joke. ‘Moonlight’ has won Best Picture.”
Then Horowitz took the slip of paper from the second, correct envelope — snatched it, really — and showed it to the camera.
It is a sad commentary on our day and age that that final step was necessary for us — both the people in the hall, and those of us outside — to completely believe him.
Things have been so weird, lately.
But it was necessary, and Horowitz knew it; and the producers and stars of “Moonlight” finally believed, and came on stage to collect their award.
By way of contrast, take a recent press conference in Washington with President Trump.
In remarks lasting more than an hour, Trump included observations about the size of his Electoral College win.
“I guess it was the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan,” he said.
It’s bad enough that Mr. Trump still feels the need to discuss this, three months after the election and a month since his swearing-in.
But what bothers me more is the fact that, even as he said it, he knew it wasn’t true.
I conclude this because, when reporter Peter Alexander of NBC challenged his version, with the actual, larger numbers from both of President Obama’s wins, Trump immediately shot back, “I’m talking about Republican.”
But that was still not correct, as Alexander again pointed out; Republican President George H.W. Bush’s electoral numbers were bigger, too.
At that point, the leader of the free world said, “Well, I was given that information. I don’t know…I was given that information. I’ve seen it around.”
That is the point at which the hair stood up on the back of my neck.
I don’t think it’s too much to expect the President of the United States to know what he is talking about — or at least to have the most corrected, up-to-date information that is humanly possible.
I’m sure there are hundreds of smart people willing to fact-check for him. Heck, I’d do it myself!
“I’ve seen it around”?
Suppose someone leaves out a copy of the National Enquirer? Will Trump start a war because “American mom gives birth to alien”? (An alien from outer space, of course.)
“I don’t know, I heard the word ‘alien,’ you know what that does to me!”
“I was given this” is simply not acceptable.
You know the only two people on the planet who have the right to that excuse?
Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.
They actually were “just given that information.”
And yet, mere minutes later, the man who was mistakenly handed his industry’s highest honor stepped forward and corrected the error.
So. It turns out to be “La La Land” where a stand-up guy makes sure the record is corrected … and the White House where we get “That’s what I was given.”
That’s how much trouble we’re in.
And no close-up shot or second envelope is going to get us out of this one.