Attack of the WIRMS

bob_franken_cParasitic worms — there are many of them — are among the worst health scourges on Earth. The same could be said about the species that frequently infest the world of American celebrity. They’re called WIRMS, and in this case, the opportunistic organisms latch on to the parasites, particularly those in the political realm. WIRMS is shorthand for “What I Really Meant to Say,” and we’ve had an outbreak recently in Washington.

It doesn’t take an expert to conclude that these particular lice were brought back from Helsinki, where our president was contaminated by his handler, the Russian president. The early-onset symptoms manifested themselves immediately — in this case, it was his addled responses to the nagging-headache question about Russian cybertheft of the U.S. election that propelled the Moscowian candidate, Donald Trump, into the presidency.

With an apparently menacing Vladimir Putin standing right next to him, Trump managed to really step in it: “My people came to me, (Director of National Intelligence) Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

We all witnessed what happened next: The spit hit the fan. Cries of “treason” and “disgraceful” filled the air, the accusations that the U.S. chief executive had declared that he believed the former USSR KGB operative over all the American intelligence agencies. The fever kept rising, and by the next day, full-blown WIRMS had set in.

POTUS, his very own self, abandoned his usual efforts at self-medication and read off a prescription concocted by his staff. He misspoke, Trump sniffled to reporters. He meant to say “wouldn’t,” not “would.”

The fury quickly turned to ridicule after that one. Before the laughter had even died down, he was taken over by his chronic illness, the terrifying (to his staff) ad lib disease. Once again, the patient went before cameras and, sure enough, was asked: “Is Russia still targeting the United States?” meaning, the next upcoming elections. His response: “No.”

So which was it? This time he channeled his response through one of his favorite WIRMSters, Sarah Sanders. He wasn’t replying to the reporter’s question, Sanders explained, but simply saying “no” to any questions. As usual, Sanders delivered her translation with a straight face.

The WIRMS quickly spread to Aspen, Colorado, where Trump’s Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was being questioned by Andrea Mitchell of NBC. Coats had strongly defended the nation’s spy agencies.

Andrea broke the news to him onstage that Presidents Trump and Putin, his boss, were on another collusion course, planning a second summit at the White House in September. “Say that again,” Coats sputtered. “Did I hear you right?” Assured that she wasn’t kidding, Coats muttered to laughter, “That’s going to be special.”

It wasn’t long before Coats himself got clobbered by the WIRMS: “My admittedly awkward response was in no way meant to be disrespectful or criticize the actions of the president.” Coats quickly had been made aware that it’s uncomfortable being on the Trumpian spit list, proving the adage that that the early WIRMS avoid the bird spit from on high.

(Bob Franken is an Emmy Award-winning reporter who covered Washington for more than 20 years with CNN.)

© 2018 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.