Lately, it feels like Steve Mnuchin has been everywhere.
We seem to see him all the time on TV or in print selling the tax reform plan that he apparently played a key role in creating. One feels compelled to use the word "apparently" because Mnuchin also seems to regularly misunderstand the size and effects of his tax plan. The Warlock of Pennsylvania Avenue has had a hard time zeroing in on the size of his tax cuts (not "the biggest ever") and who benefits from them the most (it's not really the middle class). Unlike his "colleague" Gary Cohn, who seems to have simply given up on the notion of politics and is just tacitly admitting that this plan is a trickle-downer's wet dream, Mnuchin is sticking to the White House's counter-factual populist talking points and putting faith in his non-existent charm to sell it all to Congress and the American people.
And that is especially hard to watch, because Steve Mnuchin should be owning this tax plan. It's truly his masterpiece. Steve Mnuchin is a human loophole whose career has been a never-ending pass-through divorced from all moralism or consequence. This tax plan feels like a codification of all that he has achieved. If this thing passes, Mnuchin should pour himself a cold, frothy mug of Cristal Brut, toast himself in the mirror and say "This Bud's for you" whilst sharing a super-creepy smile with himself.
But Mnuchin seems to be cheating himself of all this enjoyment because he keeps fucking up so royally. Simply put, he has revealed himself to be one of two things: a terrible liar or a dangerously stupid man.
Every other thing that comes out of his ticky, clenching mouth is total horseshit, something that we've come to expect from this administration, but Mnuchin's brand feels particularly unaware. It truly feels like he is not so much lying as repeating something that he thinks he maybe knows. Overall, Steve Mnuchin does not appear to be existing in this reality.
He appeared to be totally flummoxed that anyone was mad he wanted taxpayers to pay for his honeymoon travel to Europe, or that they did pay for him and his comically unlikeable wife to go see the eclipse in Kentucky. He jumped into the fray on Trump's moronic NFL battle, and when his boss cozied up to neo-Nazis Mnuchin made the bizarre tactical decision of covering Trump's crucial Yalie flank by penning a letter to his fellow alums. He cannot seem to grasp the most basic concepts of public life and he comes off as utterly incapable of learning from his own mistakes.
And now he seems to have given us the clearest indication yet that he is skirting that fine line between public service neophyte and mentally unfit for public service.
Last week, we were all treated to the visual gem of Mnuchin and his wife posing with a sheet of actual money, celebrating the first issue of public tender with his signature on it. The image was a perfect encapsulation of everything wrong with how Steve Mnuchin approaches public life.
Just look at it one more time:
It truly says it all.
This photo is the political photo-op equivalent of kicking a puppy while publicly masturbating: You can explain all you want, but you're only going to make it worse.
And because Steve Mnuchin is essentially this administration's puppy-kicking masturbator, he took the bait and explained the photo.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin explained Sunday why he and his wife, Louise Linton, struck a villainous pose with a sheet of dollar bills: He didn’t think the pictures would be public.
“I didn’t realize that the pictures were public and going on the internet and viral,” Mnuchin told host Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.” “But people have the right to do that. People can express what they want. That’s the great thing about social media today. People can say and communicate what they want.”
You're the public face of an historically contentious piece of legislation, yet you let your Instagram infamous wife dress up as Kylo Ren and then take her to the National Mint to hold sheets of money in front of an AP photographer...and you're surprised when people see them?
So, we'll ask again: Is Steve Mnuchin a bad liar or is he dangerously stupid?
A bad liar would deflect from the photo, call it a distraction from the business of governing and try to move on, getting back to misrepresenting the effects of his tax plan. A bad liar would make up something about "context" and criticize a biased media. A bad liar would perhaps even pull out the ol' "I'm not going to even dignify people calling my black leather-clad wife "a villain," with a response."
Steve Mnuchin, however, went this route:
Mnuchin said he heard that criticism and “never thought I’d be quoted as looking like villains” from a Bond movie.
“I guess I should take that as a compliment that I look like a villain in a great, successful James Bond movie. But let me just say, I was very excited of having my signature on the money,” he added
We'll just leave it at this: Steve Mnuchin is not a bad liar.