After admitting to the House Intelligence Committee that she was occasionally called upon to tell “white lies” for the president, Hope Hicks has announced that she is leaving the White House. She says these things are not related. She stayed for many Scaramuccis longer than her predecessor. But in the end it got her, too. It always does. She was the Final Girl, hoping against Hope to make it through, but she should never have gone into that House in the first place.
“Hope is outstanding and has done great work for the last three years,” President Trump said, according to the New York Times. “She is as smart and thoughtful as they come, a truly great person. I will miss having her by my side, but when she approached me about pursuing other opportunities, I totally understood. I am sure we will work together again in the future.”
What opportunities? What does the Trump administration prepare you for? I would say “some job where you have to herd toddlers,” but everyone always says that, and toddlers are at least capable of growth and will sometimes smile at you and make you feel like it is worth it.
Working in the Trump administration is a way to announce to the world that you do not possess many of what are ordinarily termed qualifications or standards. If you did, you would work in a place that is, well, not the Trump administration. You happened to be the wrong room at the wrong time, a room where your Model U.N. experience actually did mean you had more foreign policy expertise than anyone else in the room, and suddenly through almost no fault of your own you were a major policy adviser.
But what job could possibly follow Hicks’s role in this administration? What, even, was that role? Remember when she sat there silently for her own profile?
She was a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a belted double-breasted dress from Theory. She was a Mona Lisa who had to take press queries. She was Ariel — perfect hair, but you never heard her voice. She held sway as the head of a communications office that appeared to be entirely the province of a man tweeting in his not-bathrobe (he does not own a bathrobe, he made Sean Spicer tell us), but we had to remember: Hicks was there also. She was John Barron, but better, because she was Real, whereas John Barron existed only if Trump believed very, very hard and clapped until his hands were sore.
She was a word whose meaning changed from mouth to mouth. From her vast silence trickled the information that she came from Connecticut. That she was a former model. That she had no relevant expertise (which, in the Trump administration, was more a qualification than a fault). That she had a rapport with Trump similar to the one Robert Redford had with that horse in that movie and was capable of responding to media requests.
She was also one of those Schrodinger’s Adults with whom the president has surrounded himself, fully and miraculously responsible for all sorts of major decisions until suddenly and conveniently helpless. One moment, you are a Boy Genius who absolutely ought to be performing advanced surgery on the Middle East; the next, you are a mere infant who could not hope to fill out a form without frequent pauses for juice and snacks.
Either way, she was the opposite of Trump, Town & Country promised. But she could whisper him. (Trump is always needing to be whispered, like a ghost or a horse.)
Where will she go now, with her unique qualifications — an ability to speak softly and carry a big shtick? She will go fall in a forest, soundlessly. She will accept a position as Senior Vice President of Seeming So Put-Together That Everyone Assumes You are in Charge of Something.
But what will fill the void left by Hope? Or was there even a Hope there, in the first place? She should have been the last thing left in this Pandora’s box. There is supposed to be something left in the box after the monsters begin to fly out.
Alexandra Petri is a columnist for The Washington Post. Follow her on Twitter, @petridishes. Charles Krauthammer is on medical leave.
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