The Presidential Secret Documents Scandal Explained

Explaining the Biggest Non-Story So Far This Year

If any story was going to trump our ex-President’s retention of numerous secret documents as a colossal waste of time and energy it was, inevitably, going to be our current President’s retention of secret documents. Like many a better mystery, the biggest question around the Trump story was always motive: why was Trump holding on to all those secret documents? Blackmail? Power? Conspiracy?

The answer, of course, was always obvious but was made much more so by the discovery of secret docs in Biden’s home, office and, for all we know, the trunk of his old car. Trump and Biden had secret documents in their possession for the same reason you and I have fifteen year old tax-returns somewhere in an old box hidden our house.

We’re lazy.

Think about it this way. How likely are you to go to through a bunch of papers from a job you just lost and return the one’s marked “Company Secret”? Would anyone in their right mind bother? So the great mystery of the secret documents really boils down to two basic questions. How likely is it that an ex-President would ever give a second look at any of the documents they’d taken away and how likely is it that they would return anything with a Secret marking if they saw it.

With this in mind, TW2BR has created this handy table showing the (admittedly speculative and often apocryphal) likelihood of our modern Presidents (we’ll call it JFK on) having secret documents after leaving office:

PresidentLikelihood of Looking at DocumentsLikelihood of Returning DocumentsLikelihood of Still Having DocumentsNotes
John F. Kennedy1%1%>99%Too cool for school. JFK would have had better things to do than read or return old documents.
Lyndon Johnson5%1%>99%LBJ was too mean to return anything.
Richard Nixon80%0%100%We can just picture Nixon perched in a decaying castle above San Clemente reading classified documents, rubbing his hands together, and whispering, “My Precious”
Gerald Ford50%100%50%Ford was not as stupid as the mainstream media chose to pretend and in the post-Watergate world they would have sent him to jail for using Secret antiperspirant.
Jimmy Carter100%100%0%The main reason Jimmy was hands-down the worst President on this list until Trump showed up and ended the competition for good, is that he wasted time on exactly this kind of thing.
Ronald Reagan0%20%0%Ahh – you may be thinking we’ve made an elementary mathematical mistake here. But though Reagan would never had bothered to return documents as long as there was a cookie to eat or a horse to ride, he would never have had classified documents because (as his ghostwriter discovers) he never read anything.
George Bush 80%80%36%Bush Sr. was a spook and the sort who might read this stuff. He’d probably return it too – unless, of course, it was compromising.
Bill Clinton20%20%96%Despite his reputation for wonkiness it’s hard to believe old Bill wouldn’t occupy himself with other, more worldly, things. As for returning materials, it’s almost the opposite of GBSR – he’d only return it on the off chance it made him look better.
George Bush Jr.10%80%92%Not as studious as Dad but with the same instincts.
Barack Obama40%50%80%Just pedantic enough to MAYBE waste the time reading his old materials and just sanctimonious to MAYBE waste the time returning them.
Donald Trump0%0%100%Here we enter the realm of certainty.
Joe Biden10%40%100%See above

None of this, of course, should obscure the bigger picture (as we put on our fake, deep pundit voice and serious face), that handling classified documents is a serious business.

But at least the truth is out there.

!!NEWSFLASH….Breaking News….Breaking News!! Vice Presidents are (at least) as lazy as Presidents