If he’s going to keep on doing the job of White House Press Secretary, maybe Sean Spicer would benefit from going to a few Toastmasters meetings before he tries this sort of thing again:
Listen to the stuttering. Read his body language, especially his shoulders. Watch his eyes. He knows he just royally screwed up, but he refuses to admit it and that just makes it worse.
Make of the phrase “holocaust centers” what you will: that Spicer so badly tripped up while trying to make what could have been a powerful moral point, on Passover, just makes my jaw that much more slack.
Upon contemplation I find it more interesting that he found three different ways to mispronounce “Bashar Assad” in a single press conference. But the core point is, he’s visibly flustered, frustrated, and frantic the entire time, not just in the clip above. His substantive message was lost in between the bizarre phrases and the defensiveness.
Granted, it’s not Spicer’s fault that policy from the Trump White House isn’t always particularly coherent and Syria policy is particularly so. Nevertheless it is Spicer’s job to make it appear coherent, to convey the President’s messages clearly and convincingly. Being able to engage in that kind of communication is a core role of the Presidency.
Bear in mind: I don’t think Spicer was actually denying the Holocaust: push the garbled syntax away and use the lens of charity: he was trying to say that Hitler didn’t use gas as a weapon on the battlefield. But if you’re gong to be making a moral argument, perhaps you want to go a different way altogether if the structure of your argument is that Hitler was somehow morally better than the object of your criticism.
I think Spicer is too easily tripped up when he does it. I think he often doesn’t do enough homework on the pertinent subject matter to keep up with the reporters he’s briefing. I think he’s so immersed in Trumpian Doublespeak that he loses the ability to make clear statements under pressure. Frankly, I don’t think he enjoys his job all that much.
And this matters because the garbled, distracting, confused communication that he offers up to the public while under the sort of stress that comes as a routine part of Spicer’s job diminishes the President’s ability to serve as a political leader.
Image by DonkeyHotey
Image by DonkeyHotey