We’re All Stuck Inside George and Kellyanne’s Marriage
Last Sunday, shortly after Attorney General William Barr had released his no collusion/maybe obstruction summary of Robert Mueller’s report, I spotted George Conway wandering out of the National Zoo, in Northwest Washington。
上周日,在司法部长威廉·P·巴尔(William P。 Barr)公布了他的“无串谋/可能阻碍司法”的罗伯特·穆勒(Robert Mueller)报告摘要后不久,我在华盛顿西北的国家动物园看来乔治·康维(George Conway)正走出来。
George, as anyone even casually familiar with the wacky spectacles surrounding our 45th president is aware, is the prominent conservative lawyer who has been increasingly open about his contempt for Donald Trump, mostly via Twitter. This is notable because he is also the husband of the White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, making him one-half of the marital embodiment of Trump-era Washington — a seething, divided, bizarre crucible, in other words.
任何对我们的第45届总统身边的种种怪现象略晓一二的人都认得乔治，一位日益公开表达——主要是通过推特——对唐纳德·特朗普(Donald Trump)的藐视的著名保守派律师。这一点之所以值得注意，是因为他还是白宫顾问凯莉安·康维(Kellyanne Conway)的丈夫，这使他成为特朗普时代华盛顿——换句话说，一个沸腾、分裂、怪诞的大熔炉——某种婚姻化身的其中一半。
George wore a dark polo shirt and appeared to be alone on this warm afternoon. I imagined him to be depressed over Mr. Barr’s synopsis and out for a walk to clear his head while his wife labored triumphantly at the White House. I barely know George. We’ve met a few times and texted occasionally (like many Washington reporters, I’ve tried to interview him about his marriage, to no avail). I decided to leave him alone with his thoughts.
He later confirmed (via text) that it was he, but that he was not alone; George said he was shepherding a bunch of kids around the zoo, a task that he compared to herding wild animals. “Or working at the White House,” I replied, trying to egg him on. He didn’t bite, at least on the record.
George has complained to friends that Kellyanne has fallen inexplicably under the thrall of President Trump — and that he would prefer a wife who was not captured。 Kellyanne, meanwhile, believes that her husband has been disrespectful of her in his public criticisms of her boss, and she wishes he would air his complaints in private。 It’s obviously more complicated, but those seem to be the broad contours of their grievances。
By all appearances, it had been another belligerent week for the Conways. George had just a few days earlier tweeted out clinical definitions of narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder in reference to the president of the United States. He went on to suggest that “a serious inquiry needs to be made about this man’s condition of mind.” His wife, all the while, continued to stand by her man — in this case, the man in the White House.Kellyanne countered that she did not share her husband’s concern for the president’s mental well-being, and then added something sarcastic about how she had been taking care of the couple’s four children that morning and was engaging in real “substantive” conversations with Mr. Trump so (if you’ll excuse her) she might not be fully up to speed on whatever it was her husband was tweeting about that morning.
Naturally, the president himself weighed in, dismissing George — “Mr. Kellyanne Conway” — as “a total loser” and the “husband from hell.” This was not your standard strange Washington bedfellow shtick, in other words. It was a far cry from the love prevailing over politics meme and Americans learning to disagree without being disagreeable, and all that.Politics has always loved a good odd-couple story. That the cable combatants James Carville (the Bill Clinton strategist) and Mary Matalin (the Bush and Cheney operative) were married in real life held a certain novelty and quaintness in the relatively tame Beltway soap opera of the 1990s. It could also be marketable. The Carville-Matalin political-enemies/life-partners routine reaped them a fortune of book, speaking, TV and endorsement deals.
总统本人自然也要说上两句，他鄙夷地说乔治——“凯莉安·康维先生”——是个“彻底的失败者”、“来自地狱的丈夫”。换句话说，这不是奇异的华盛顿床伴之间的标准滑稽场面。这远不是什么爱情超越政治的米姆，也不是美国人学会了求同存异之类。政治向来都喜好杰出的貌合神离故事。詹姆斯·卡维尔（James Carville，比尔·克林顿的策略师）和玛丽·玛塔林（Mary Matalin，布什和切尼的特工）这对有线新闻战士是真实生活中的夫妻，这在1990年代相对温顺的华盛顿政界肥皂剧中还有一定的新奇和怪异感。那是有销路的。卡维尔-玛塔琳式的政敌/人生伴侣日常，帮他们收成了数量颇丰的图书、演讲、电视和代言协议。
But the love-over-politics plotline seems to be another casualty of an administration that has torched even the most time-honored of Washington chestnuts. Far from anything uplifting, the ballad of George and Kellyanne has provided a running background mishegoss to the main noise. George will tweet, with increasing disgust, about the president; people (who pay attention to these things) will notice, and the media will cover it, especially when he takes on a matter relating to presidential scandal, including impeachment, which he had experience with as a prime mover against Bill Clinton’s presidency two decades ago.
It’s also hard to look away when George seems to implicitly — or explicitly — chastise those who still support and enable Mr. Trump (for example, his wife). Members of Team Kellyanne jump on Twitter to retaliate, on her behalf. Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, said George was a bad husband, and Eric Trump called his actions “horrible.” George told The Washington Post that he was compelled to tweet about the White House “so I don’t end up screaming at her,” meaning Kellyanne. All totally normal!
At first, it was impossible not to wonder whether the Conways were staging some elaborate marital feud, tailor-made to gin up maximum publicity in the attention vortex that is Donald Trump’s White House. Were they positioning themselves for some kind of post-White House “reconciliation” act? You could imagine the joint memoir or reality show or live stage possibilities.
But it is also impossible not to wonder whether their joint memoir is being written in real time, and we are watching a life partnership fracture on Twitter, a casualty of a third wheel in the marriage — Donald Trump。
This is the part of the story where we call in the authorities to remind us that (slowly, everyone) no one really knows what goes on in the privacy of a marriage. “Hey, I don’t live in their house,” Mr. Carville cautioned when I reached him by phone in Louisiana, where he and Ms. Matalin have lived for 12 years in apparent harmony (and if not, it would be off-brand, so they would never tweet about it). “They might be the happiest people or the saddest people in the world,” Mr. Carville said of the Conways. “Or maybe somewhere in between, like everyone.”
Remember, too, that we are living in what’s becoming an intensely performative culture, with new outlets for different personas — one for home; one for work; one for Instagram, cable, etc. Open friction is no longer so easily subsumed by the almighty virtue of comity. “Everybody seems to be playing a certain role, and that should add another layer of skepticism about what’s really going on with people,” said Gil Troy, a presidential historian at McGill University who has written about political couples.
还需记住，我们生活在一个正在成形的强烈表现文化之中，不同的人格面具都有了新的表现场合——家里的，工作时的，用于Instagram的，上有线电视的，等等。公开的摩擦不再那么容易被礼仪的全能美德所包纳。“每个人似乎都在扮演某种角色，这应该对了解人们之间的真实状况又增加了一层怀疑，”麦吉尔大学(McGill University)研究总统的历史学家吉尔·特洛伊(Gil Troy)说，他曾写过关于政治夫妻的文章。
To strike a more neutral note: Maybe the Conways simply embody the Washington power couple we all deserve in the Trump era. “This marriage represents the train wreck that is our current political culture,” Professor Troy said. “We are all intertwined as Americans, like we’re all in a marriage together and constantly colliding against one another. No one knows who’s going to break first and what will be the breaking point.”
We are all the Conways.