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Thinking About Role Of White House Press Secretary

June 20, 2017

On my bookshelves that line this office are ones written by Jody Powell, Ron Nessen, and Marlin Fitzwater–all having served as White House Press Secretaries.  I fully understand that most do not have these books in their homes, have probably never read them, and I would bet my entire Elvis album collection do not recognize those names.  But mention Sean Spicer and the image of a Saturday Night Live skit comes instantly to mind as well as a number of purely painful episodes of real-life from the press room at the White House.

Before I venture further let me add that I do have some sincere feelings for the spot Spicer now finds himself.  After all, he was once a respected Republican spokesman and strategist, and worked for four members of congress.  But like so many others who fell into Donald Trump’s orbit they have become cannon fodder and slimed with orange muck.   Without regard for anyone other than himself Trump has permanently damaged many once skilled men and women.

In Spicer’s case who can forget his first press briefing when he showed pictures of the inauguration crowd and angrily insisted the crowd was larger than it actually was. It was a completely bizarre and tortured beginning.  And while I truly feel bad for him when he is asked to explain statements and tweets from Trump that are nearly impossible to reconcile, especially when they contradict facts, I also must stress that there are times when people just have to stand up and say “ENOUGH!”  Spicer seems unable or unwilling to make such a statement and detach himself from his crazy surroundings.

The important role that Powell, Nesson, and Fitzwater undertook–in the midst of their individual and political crises, should be a lesson to others like Spicer.  But there seems no interest to learn or be lifted by history in this White House.

To be a laugh line is not the way Spicer wishes to be remembered, but that is the way he seems content to use his time on the national stage.  It does not serve him well, and truly is not what the nation needs or expects from a press secretary.

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