The oversized envelope in Tuesday’s mail arrived with an eye-catching bolded return address: “Donald J. Trump, President of the United States.” The lower left corner bore the words, “INVITATION ENCLOSED.”
I opened it and pulled out a three-page letter. “Dear Mr. Casey,” it began. “I’m not one to mince words so I’m going to get straight to the point. I need your help and I need it NOW.” Key phrases in the next two paragraphs included “the Socialist Democrats,” “the Liberal mainstream media,” a “massive non-stop propaganda campaign” and “impeachment witch hunts.”
The seventh paragraph (of 33) read, “Mr. Casey, today I am asking you to join key Republicans in Virginia and across the country who are making a commitment to support me and our agenda by becoming a Charter Member of my Republican Presidential Task Force.”
The bottom was signed, “Donald J. Trump.”
Along with it was a 28-question “Strategy Survey” on 11x17-inch card stock. Answering that was the first step in joining the Presidential Task Force, the letter noted. My response also would earn me a task force “Membership Card” and special “lapel pin … designed to be recognized at VIP functions here in Washington, D.C.”
Naturally, I felt flattered. No president — not even Richard Nixon, whose campaign I volunteered for in 1972 — has ever appointed me to a White House Task Force. That’s the same as serving our nation, eh?
Who would have guessed that President Trump cares enough to seek my input? After all, I’m not known as his biggest fan. Have I pegged him unfairly? I wondered. If he’s offering me a White House job, perhaps he’s not the lying, cheating, loose -barrel, justice-obstructing and porn-star-bribing narcissist I had imagined.
Of course, before I resign this newspaper gig and move to Washington, there are some key details to flesh out. One is, how much will my Presidential Task Force salary be? Another: the job duties. For example, I’m unqualified to serve as Trump’s press secretary — I’m a inept liar.
So I looked up the telephone number for 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and called. After about four minutes on hold, I spoke to a woman who identified herself as a White House volunteer.
“What’s your comment?” she said.
“Actually, I’m calling because President Trump has appointed me to a Presidential Task Force and I have a few questions,” I said. “I need the date of our first meeting.”
“Sir, this is a comment line. I’m not sure who you should respond to,” she replied. “Probably the Republican National Committee.”
“I don’t think so,” I said. “My mailed invitation clearly identifies the sender as President Trump. Where’s my office going to be?”
“Sir, I would have no idea,” she responded.
“I want it in the West Wing,” I said. “Can you make that happen?”
“No, sir, but I do wish you luck,” she replied.
I tried to tell her the color I want my new office painted, but before I could get that out I heard a “CLICK!” on the other end.
Perhaps a more important call was coming in. Maybe former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was phoning collect from a federal prison.
Anyway, I turned to the survey. Let’s run down just a few of its questions.
“Do you support my nomination of federal judges who will make their own decisions based on the U.S. Constitution, rather than advance their own political doctrine?”
The three possible answers — “Yes,” “No” and “No opinion” — did not suffice. Fortunately, there was enough space to scrawl a write-in response. “No because you’ve nominated only Heritage Foundation lickspittles,” I wrote.
Next multiple choice question: “Do you expect Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives to cooperate in any way with me in finding solutions to America’s most critical issues or do you think they will continue to work relentlessly to stop us from doing what’s best for America?”
“The House has passed hundreds of bills,” I wrote in. “Moscow Mitch is holding all of them up in the Senate.”
“Do you approve of the Democrats’ never-ending witch hunt to try and impeach me for their own political gain rather than focusing on working together to make America better for us all?”
Underneath I wrote in, “False dichotomy.” But I colored in the box next to “Approve” and added, “100%.”
Which brings us to the last of the 28 questions: “Considering all that is at stake in the 2020 elections, are you willing to support our agenda by becoming a Charter Member of my Republican Presidential Task Force and financially strengthening the Republican National Committee to help our party’s candidates win?”
The only choices — “Yes” or “No” — would not do. So I drew in a third box, filled it in and scrawled “ I’ll take the job for $183K,” which is what Senior White House Adviser Kellyanne Conway’s getting.
I put down $0 as my contribution and signed and dated the “Membership Acceptance Form.” In the “Occupation” blank I wrote “columnist” and on the employer line I wrote, “The Roanoke Times.”
But not for much longer, I thought. The White House will be getting back to me shortly.
As soon as they paint my office Snowflake white (a variety from the Valspar palette), I’ll be in Washington, strutting around the West Wing in blue suede clogs and a paisley suit. Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” will play on a continuous loop in my new work digs.
And as a bona fide member of the Republican Presidential Task Force, I will be advising Trump. What a thrill.
If you thought Washington couldn’t get much weirder — just wait!