In the middle of a news day dominated by the indictment of President Donald Trump's former campaign chair Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders began Monday's press briefing with an attempt to explain why cutting taxes for the rich is a good thing, using a "convoluted" beer-drinking analogy lifted almost verbatim from a right-wing email forward that has been circulating for nearly two decades.
"Is this the kind of thing that your drunk Fox-watching MAGA uncle forwards you from his e-mail account? You damn betcha."
—Charles Pierce, Esquire
Noting that House Republicans are set to release the details of their tax bill on Wednesday, Sanders promptly dove into what she described as "an anecdote that we can all understand."
No one understood. Watch to find out why:
Here's that whole anecdote from Sarah Huckabee-Sanders that, to my ear, sounded like an email your relative would forward you pic.twitter.com/y3ZpW855Jy— Colin Jones (@colinjones) October 30, 2017
"Is this the kind of thing that your drunk Fox-watching MAGA uncle forwards you from his e-mail account?" Esquire's political columnist Charles Pierce asked. "You damn betcha."
The story is a long-winded attempt to justify tax cuts for the rich by claiming that rich people will simply leave the country if their taxes are too high. If they do leave, the tale suggests, the government won't be able to "pay the bill."
It also repeats the familiar and easily debunked argument—used previously by White House officials—that it is extremely difficult to not give tax cuts to the wealthy, given that they pay a large share of U.S. taxes.
Though not a single reporter raised a follow-up question about Sanders' "analogy" or challenged its assumptions, social media had a field day:
Sarah Sanders is using thousands of words to say: Yes, top earners will get a tax cut.— Dan Primack (@danprimack) October 30, 2017
How many drunk WH staffers did it take to come up with this Sarah Huckabee Sanders alcohol analogy— Bolivia (@oliviaLbecker) October 30, 2017
Is this Huckabee Sanders analogy really an explanation of how Manafort laundered his money?— Ted Genoways (@TedGenoways) October 30, 2017
what is this sarah huckabee sanders story? it's like an email forward from 1997 rewrite of atlas shrugged— Putin's Fake Niece (@morninggloria) October 30, 2017
HUCKABEE-SANDERS: A farmer has to get a fox, a chicken, and a tax reform bill across a river, but can only fit one at a time in his boat.— Stefan Heck (@boring_as_heck) October 30, 2017