As Trump’s former White House spokesman, Spicer bolstered the reputation and agenda of a monster. How can we now applaud him on stage?
Just 58 days. That’s all the time it took for Sean Spicer to return to public life, rolling on to a nationally watched stage, being literally applauded. Apparently it doesn’t take much to wash off the stink of the Trump administration – just an Emmy invite and a few celebrity smooches.
As Spicer did a bit at the Emmys on Sunday night – joking about the size of the audience using the same language he did months earlier, as he hectored the press over Trump’s inauguration crowd – celebrities and television industry folks laughed and applauded. As if this all was the funniest and cleverest turn of events yet. As if Spicer’s lies from the press secretary lectern were hilarious instead of terrifying.
As if this all was a show.
Are we really so easily distracted? So desperate for a reprieve from the awfulness that we will pretend as if this person didn’t bolster the reputation and agenda of a monster? Shame on us.
Spicer was not an unwitting and unwilling participant in the Trump administration; for six months, he was its face. He lied to the American people again and again, pushing the dangerous notion that citizens could not trust the press. He normalized deception.
Spicer claimed that Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons, despite the fact that Hitler killed millions of Jewish people by gassing them, and then referred to “Holocaust centers” in his apology.
When the president was taken to task for issuing a statement to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day with no mention of Jewish people or antisemitism, Spicer called critics “pathetic” and applauded the president for “going out of his way to recognize the Holocaust”.
This is a man who blamed the press for the characterization of Trump’s travel directive as a “Muslim ban” or “travel ban” despite the word being the president’s own. A man who, when called out for his lying, said “sometimes we can disagree with facts”.
It does not surprise me that Spicer would seek to redeem himself. A lot of us knew it was coming. In May, cultural commentator and videoblogger Jay Smooth predicted this redemption tour. He said when that day comes, though, “no credit, no props, no pats on the back should be given … for choosing to be complicit in this regime and then coming back around to cash in … after the harm is done.” That we could not forget what Spicer and people like him – people who worked for a dangerous bigot – did to our country.
After Spicer’s quick bit on the Emmys stage, some people posed for pictures with the former press secretary backstage and at parties – as if he were a celebrity. One source told CNN that Spicer “was mobbed by Emmys attendees both at the awards show and at the parties afterwards”.
“He could barely eat at the Governor’s Ball, he was so popular,” they said.
Of course the people who populate Emmys parties are not likely to be worried about being deported. Or having their health insurance taken away. Perhaps all of this is funny to them because they don’t have to think about Spicer’s role in the administration as anything other than a brief career gaffe that will have no lasting impact on their own lives.
It must be nice to have the privilege of all of this just being one big joke.
For the rest of us, it’s our lives. It’s not funny, it’s not cute, and it’s not nearly time enough passed or apologies given to consider giving Spicer respite from his shame.
I’m sure this won’t be last we see of Spicer. We’ll watch as he goes on a speaking tour, writes a book, perhaps, and pretends that his time in the Trump administration didn’t sully him for life. That we can’t control. What we can do, however, is not show up and clap for him as he makes fools of us all once again.