Telling the White House press corps at his daily briefing that Hitler didn’t gas his own people, 45-year-old press secretary Sean Spicer, former Republican National Committee spokesman, proved he’s not fit for the job. Since taking the job, Spicer’s been in a combative relationship with the White House press corps, frequently quibbling over inconsequential matters, brought on by his own doing. “We didn’t use chemical weapons in WWII,” said Spicer, questioning the relationship between Russia and Syria. “You had someone as despicable as Hitler, who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” Spicer told the press corps, in one his worst faux pas to date. No, Adolf Hitler didn’t gas his troops or German civilians, he just massacred millions of prisoners in his concentration camps gas chambers with Cynide-based Zyclon B, murdering some 6 million Jews and millions of other ethnic groups.
Spicer’s comments show his bravado trying to perform his job as White House Press Secretary. “I think when you come to Sarin gas, he was not using the gas on his own people in the same way that Assad was doing,” Spicer said, hearing groans from his incredulous audience. Raising the Holocaust analogy fueled strong objections from the Jewish community, knowing full well the extent of Hitler’s use of Zyclon B, a lethal poisonous gas compound used to exterminate millions of Jews and other ethnic groups. Spicer tried to walk back his remarks that what he meant was Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used poised gas on Syrian civilians in their own neighborhoods. Spicer showed he lacks the finesse and, more importantly, the savvy to be White House Press Secretary. Embarrassing the White House, Trump can’t have a gaffe-prone spokesman embarrassing his administration.
Issuing an apology doesn’t change the fact that Spicer isn’t savvy enough to avoid making serious errors of judgment, playing fast-and-loose with sensitive topics. “In no way was I trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust. However, I was trying to draw a contrast of the tack of using airplanes to drop chemical weapons on innocent people,” Spicer told NBC News after yesterday’s briefing. Spicer clarified his inept comparison to Nazi Germany but didn’t account for why since he started as Press Secretary Jan. 3, he’s been on the defensive, often digging himself into a deep hole. With Syria and Russia denying using chemical weapons, it’s all the more important for Spicer to stick to the script, rather than winging it with farfetched analogies. Spending too much time apologizing, Spicer needs to rethink whether or not he has the credibility left to continue as Press Secretary.
No one doubts the sincerity of Spicer’s apology, especially during the Jewish Passover holiday. When the Easter recess is over, Trump and his brain trust—including 36-year-old White House senior advisor Jared Kushner—need to rethink whether Spicer’s the right man for the job. White House press secretary needs to command the respect of the White House press corps, not be constantly defending himself. “While Jewish families across America celebrate Passover,” said House Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “The chief spokesman of this White House is downplaying the horror of the Holocaust. Sean Spicer must be fired, and the president must immediately disavow his spokesman’s statements . . . “ taking a partisan shot at Spicer. Pelosi’s comments make it more difficult for Trump to replace Spicer, especially misrepresenting his inept words-and-intent.
Spicer bent over backwards apologizing for offending Jewish Americans or embarrassing the White House. Spicer’s comments echo his tendency to get too careless bantering with the press, showing that he’s become a loose cannon. Spicer tried but failed to make a point about al-Assad’s unacceptable use of poison gas. Pelosi’s partisan shot at Spicer does nothing to bring Democrats and Republicans together. With Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meeting today with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin tonight, Pelosi continues the partisan barbs, sticking to her fraudulent claim of Trump colluding with the Kremlin to beat former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Nov. 8, 2016. Pelosi prefers partisan attacks over anything constructive. Spicer’s guilty of ineptness as Press Secretary not egregious statements about the Holocaust.
Trump and his executive team need to seriously consider parting ways with Spicer. While there’s no question of Spicer’s loyalty to Trump, he’s not up to the task of White House Press Secretary. Putting radio talk show host Laura Ingraham in the post would save Trump a lot of headaches since Spicer took the reins Jan. 3. Mastery of the issues is only one part of the job. Spicer lacks the savvy and interactive temperament necessary to holding good press relations. Even with the mainstream press attacking Trump at every turn, the White House Press Secretary must disarm the attacks with superior knowledge, sophistication and humor. Spicer’s too overly sensitive to maintain copasetic relations with the White House press. Spicer must go because he’s making the news with his all-too-frequent gaffes, not orchestrating the press to advance the White House agenda.