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I, Too, Have Misplaced Some Classified Documents
“A dozen documents with classified document markings were found in former Vice President Mike Pence’s Carmel, Indiana, home last week… The document discovery comes as both President Biden and former President Trump are under investigation for their handling of classified documents.” — Axios
I have something to confess. This isn’t easy to say, and I’ve thought about all the ways in which I could come clean, but simply ripping the bandaid off seems most appropriate:
I, too, have misplaced some classified documents.
I found them in my sock drawer this morning. At the same time that I spotted highly confidential government secrets in my sock drawer, I also noticed that some of my socks were missing. I must have unknowingly left some of my socks at the White House and taken these documents home by accident. The short version: I mistook the socks for the docs.
You see, I went to the White House on a tour about fifteen years ago. Maybe it was twenty. Back then, you were allowed to wander into any room by yourself and read any confidential documents you wanted—you just couldn’t take them home with you. The only other rule the tour had (beyond leaving confidential paperwork in its place) was that you needed to give them your shoes and socks as collateral while you explored the White House, completely unchecked.
So I walked around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in my bare feet reading everything I could get my hands on, and by the time I felt like leaving (you were allowed to just kind of leave… whenever) it was very late at night and I was exhausted. The security guard who had taken my socks and shoes in exchange for free rein of the White House had left for the evening, and so I was tasked with checking out of the building on my own (and locking up as I left—a pretty big responsibility!)
And now, years later, here I am, staring at a binder of highly confidential and classified papers sitting in the exact spot where half of my socks should be, realizing that I must have tried to put the documents on my feet, and, when that inevitably wouldn’t work, just stuffed them in my pockets and figured they’d fit after a good washing.
But I never got to washing them, and I haven’t opened up my dresser in almost two decades because I’ve really liked the outfit I’ve had on that whole time. And I can’t help but think about all the politicians who, for the last fifteen years, haven’t said a word about how some of their most highly classified documents are actually socks.
Maybe now that I’ve come clean, they can too.
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Behind the Writing
For regular readers, this one is clearly on the absurd end of my topical writing. I think, in part, this piece initially came from a place of wanting to mock the recent coverage of Biden’s documents v. Trump’s documents. The differences between the two situations are night and day, and yet a massive amount of media coverage has paired them as equals.
One of the most prominent differences is cooperation: Biden’s team reported the issue when they discovered it and fully cooperated to figure out where the mistake had been made. Trump’s team refused to hand anything over and the FBI was forced to raid his residence. So I’d been trying to find an angle on this general media “both sides-ing” to turn into a piece for this newsletter.
But then the Mike Pence news broke, and my immediate thought was: what if we all had documents? What if I had documents? How would I have gotten them? And that’s where the above came from—just an absurd thought reacting to an absurd world.
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