On Monday night, this photo began making the rounds on the Internet:
The photo, taken Monday, shows White House counselor Kellyanne Conway perched on a couch in the Oval Office as President Trump stands behind his desk and representatives of a number of historically black colleges and universities gather around him.
Conway is kneeling on the couch. Other pictures of the same moment show she has her shoes on.
SHE IS DISRESPECTING THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT.
HOW COULD SHE.
And so on and so forth.
This tempest in a teapot is, in a word, dumb. In two words: incredibly dumb.
First of all, every party not in the White House likes to express shock and outrage at the way the other side is treating this hallowed job and office. Republicans were incensed when Bill Clinton and Barack Obama treated the Oval Office with slightly less formality than did Ronald Reagan, who, famously, always wore a suit coat in the Oval Office.
This is all par for the Internet outrage/partisan police.
It was dumb when Republicans leveled the charge of Obama and Clinton disrespecting the White House. It is equally dumb now.
Then there is the specific context of the photo above. While not captured in most of the photos that initially circulated on the Web, other snaps of the moments following the initial picture show Conway just trying to get in position to take a photo of the gathering.
She was taking a photo. This is the dumbest outrage ever. pic.twitter.com/qtHkaGpH9N
— Ben Dreyfuss (@bendreyfuss) February 28, 2017
Anyone who has ever tried to take a big group picture can sympathize.
The simple fact is that this is a totally contrived “controversy” born of some people’s blind hatred for Conway and, by extension, Trump and his White House. There is simply no “there” there.
Conway was on the sofa to try to get a good angle to snap a photo. It’s not indicative of anything, or revealing of anything. It’s just someone trying to take a photo.
We have reached a point in our politics — and Trump was the agitator if not the originator of this latest flash of polarization — in which even the most mundane of events is somehow invested with nefarious symbolism.
This is not only dumb, but it distracts from more serious and consequential debates like Trump’s travel ban, his campaign’s contacts with Russian intelligence officials and his war against leaks. We’re WAY better than this. We need to act like it.