Back in the day of the People's House. Photo by AP. Front graphic by @bluegal
Now that Sean Spicer has bungled Passover with his infamous "Holocaust centers" remark, he and the other Trumpian clowns are taking on the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, a much-loved, high-profile, "all-hands-on-deck" public event historically viewed as a barometer of an administration's general competency. On Thursday, Spicer told the press the White House preparations were "working really well," that people would have "a very, very enjoyable day" at Monday's version of festivities, and that there'd be "a large military contingent," evidently referring to the fact that they couldn't get any real-life, Ariana-Grande-ish entertainers to come so they got military bands - every kid's party favorite.
The assurances by Spicer - who once played the Easter Bunny for George Bush - came in the wake of a report from the New York Times detailing the last-minute, thrown-together, chaotic catastrophe that is Trump's upcoming Easter Egg roll, from wooden eggs ordered months late to jobs not filled by a MIA Melania to thousands of tickets not offered as usual to schoolchildren and military groups. The result: The Trump team belatedly ordered 40,000 commemorative eggs, less than half of 2016's 85,000; they expect 20,000 people, half of last year's; it will be staffed by 200 volunteers, a fifth of the usual number; and those shiny military bands will replace the A-listers of previous years. Months late, tickets have finally gone out to some schools and military families. Oh, and Trump won't be at the White House's largest public event. (Yes: he'll be golfing.) Notes Melinda Bates, who ran eight Clinton Easters, "If you can't pull off an egg roll, what are you competent to do?”
Not much, according to Natalie Rebetsky, a Maryland English teacher who for years brought her kids to every Easter Egg Roll during the Clinton, Bush and Obama presidencies and has collected all their commemorative eggs. But no more. "(It's) a beautiful thing when the president says, 'This is the people's house,'" she says. "And that's not the message I'm hearing from our current president. Given his rhetoric and policies...why would I want to take my kids to the place when he doesn't care about (them)?" Citing an "anti-family, anti-children, anti-education platform" that "portends a dark future for our children," Rebetsky created a "people's alternative" - 1,000 limited-edition wooden eggs she dubbed America’s Easter Egg. Inscribed with "Protect Our Children's Future," she sees them as a "symbol of renewal, rebirth... the beauty of spring and the cherished principles of freedom, justice, and inclusiveness that make our country great (already)." She is selling the eggs for $15, with all proceeds going to the about-to-be-slashed PBS and National Endowment for the Arts.
PBS, it turns out, is the hero of this sorry Easter drama. In past years, Elmo, Kermit, Cookie Monster and the rest of the Sesame Street gang - who over time have done several lacerating, on-point parodies of one garbage-loving Donald Grump - got early invites to the Egg Roll. This year, nobody at PBS heard anything until late last month, when the White House suddenly contacted them to ask if some of the characters could come - just days after proposing their funds be cut. Talk about chutzpah. Eventually, PBS politely responded they would send one character, still unnamed. We're hoping it'll be Kermit proclaiming, "It's nice to be important, but it's important to be nice."