The gaffe-prone Press Secretary is killing it with his stupidity!
The White House’s top spokesperson doesn’t know what he’s talking about!
I regularly watch Sean Spicer’s press briefings live from the White House. I find them strangely thrilling.
For me, the appeal is similar to watching Formula 1. Both are fast-paced, action-filled, buckle-up rides where accidents or near misses are part of the excitement when things get out of control.
But unlike the highly skilled, helmeted drivers sat in their flame-retardant suits in their survival cells emblazoned with corporate logos, Spicer stands behind a simple lectern which offers him no protection from the accidents that are inevitably waiting to happen.
All too often the mistakes are self-made. Indeed, he regularly appears to be on a collision course to make a mess of whatever point he’s trying to drive home.
Sometimes his gaffes are plain stupid like wearing his Stars and Stripes lapel badge upside down, other times they’re sartorial, such as his poorly fitting suit jackets or not having his tie tied up properly.
Mostly though, the major contributor to his frequent mishaps is his motormouth: Spicer speaks incredibly quickly, often giving the impression his mouth his moving way faster than his brain.
And that’s particularly dangerous when everyone in front of him (both the press pack packed into the tiny briefing room and those watching live or afterwards) are hanging on to his every word. Not always easy when someone speaks as fast as Lewis Hamilton drives or uses words that have you reaching for the dictionary, especially if you weren’t raised in New York.
He even makes up words. So many that GQ have put together a video with an A-Z list of all the words Spicer invented on the White House podium. These include such gobbledeegook as Althewise, Drung Prices, Inimpulintation, Lasterday, Memererenrderm, Transerptation and Wintofrom.
Spicey of course is most famous for fake news, regularly accusing the press of writing untruths. His close colleague, counsel to the President, Kellyanne Conway, who can usually be found sitting in his press briefings, notoriously coined the phrase ‘alternative facts’.
It’s no surprise then that the press are now even more vigilant when it comes to the words coming out of the White House, whether it’s Trump’s tweets, Conway’s incontrovertible false narratives or Spicer’s all too often truth-challenged responses.
At yesterday’s press briefing (11 April 2017) Spicer’s ability to talk both nonsense while blatantly lying and being extraordinarily offensive came to the fore. And, not for the first time, his problem was all of his own making.
In responding to a question about Syrian president Assad, Spicer attempted to compare the atrocities carried out by Assad’s regime with those of Nazi Germany, claiming that “even someone as despicable as Hitler, didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.”
This was not just another of his frequent faux pas’ but something far more disturbing. When given the opportunity by one of the journalists in the room to explain his comment, Spicer did what he usually does when confronted by an accuser, he put his foot in his mouth and made the situation even worse.
His common trait is to speed through his answers, speaking fast, not saying much and before the questioner can respond, he’s already calling out the next journalist’s name and moving on. He thanked Cecilia Vega from ABC News and offered the briefest of apologies. But the hole he had dug for himself was only going to get bigger.
This of course wasn’t the first time the White House had found itself answering questions about the Holocaust. Back in January, the same White House caused a huge ruction by deliberately omitting any reference to Jewish people in its Holocaust Remembrance Day statement.
Writing in the Washington Post, Erik Wemple, had this to say: “There are lots of rules and common laws about invoking the name of Adolf Hitler as part of any political discussion, with the general thrust being this: Tread very, very carefully.”
Wemple then added: “White House press secretary Sean Spicer doesn’t tread carefully. From the lectern in the White House briefing room, he throws around words and hopes to escape into his office after answering the same questions with the same — often baffling, sometimes mendacious — answers.”
When what you say is both on video and transcribed, there’s no hiding place from the truth. There’s no wriggle room to explain away your words. It’s there for all to see, hear, read and analyse.
Spicer of course has one of the most difficult jobs on the planet, trying to make what his boss says make sense, reinterpreting the meaning behind the tweets and spending his days responding to questions without giving answers. The problem is he’s not very good at it.
As Wemple points out, when faced with them “the facts always brutalize Spicer.” And it’s not just facts that catch him out, he all-too-frequently has problems with his choice of words. Yesterday was no exception as he referred to Nazi concentration camps — aka gas chambers — as Holocaust centers. “Apart from all the inarticulate and risible things that this fellow has said,” wrote Wemple, “this particular ahistorical eructation appears worthy of discipline or dismissal.”
By the way, Holocaust Center’s do exist, but the phrase refers to an educational institution that teaches people about documenting, resisting and remembering genocide, rather than an “extermination facility.”
Afterwards, feeling the heat swirling around him, Spicer attempted to explain his remarks by saying “In no way was I trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust. I was trying to draw a distinction of the tactic of using airplanes to drop chemical weapons on population centers. Any attack on innocent people is reprehensible and inexcusable.”
Reprehensible and inexcusable also happen to be the two words that best sum up Sean Spicer’s latest indiscretion.
A little later, a contrite Spicer said : “I mistakenly used an inappropriate and insensitive reference about the Holocaust and there is no comparison. For that I apologise. It was a mistake to do that.”
The next morning, during an interview at a forum on the presidency and the press at the Newseum he offered an even more emphatic mea culpa: “I made a mistake. There’s no other way of saying it. I got into a topic that I shouldn’t have and I screwed up.” He then added, “On a professional level it’s disappointing because I’ve let the President down. It will definitely go down as not a very good day in my history.”
In his article, Wemple describes a language known as Spicerian, which he says “consists of spurts and blurts and polemical dead ends.”
What’s worse, he points out, is it’s not all just a verbal tick. “The halting, hard-to-follow speech patterns reflect an unflattering truth about the top spokesperson at the White House: He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
And here’s a comment from a Washington Post reader:
“Steeped in alternative facts, master of the word salad, Spicey is the perfect representation of this White House — blatantly, defiantly and proudly ignorant on all levels.”
I’ll leave the last word to John Cleese who, in less than sixty seconds, brilliantly explains why stupid people are so stupid…
Sean Spicer may well be stupid, and there’s no doubting the lies he keeps fabricating. But whilst he may lie for a living, the question now is: is he becoming a liability?
Read Erik Wemple’s Washington Post article here
Read The Guardian article ‘Sean Spicer apology tour continues’ here
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