Sad Saturday Ethics Distraction, 8/24/2019: The Let Sean Spicer Make A Fool of Himself If He Wants To Edition

I hope you are feeling much happier than I am today.

I just returned from a memorial gathering for a very dear friend’s wife of 37 years, who died suddenly, painfully, and based on what I have heard, unnecessarily at the end of July. One positive take-away from the event: People really aren’t so bad. My friend was stunned and touched beyond measure by the turn-out, with nearly 200 people attending just to say good-bye to her and express their love and support for him. Some traveled great distances,  interrupted vacations, or made it despite illness and handicaps.  I saw friends, former colleagues and acquaintances that had been out of this region for decades, but all it took was an email informing them that their friend, who  is one of those rare people who is always there to render help and support, now needed their support himself.

Gee, those endings of “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “Easter Parade” aren’t as corny as I thought...

1. What a surprise! Only 35% of those polled support impeaching a President who has done nothing impeachable! Choose: Either the Democrats and the resistance have been lying about there being real and substantive high crimes and misdemeanors in order to sabotage the elected President, or there are such offenses, and they don’t have the guts to do their Constitutional duty and act to remove a President who is the existential threat to the nation they have claimed he is since, uh, before he was sworn in, somehow.

The same poll says that 57% would prefer someone else as President. That number is astoundingly low. The Someone Else dude is terrific! What a great President he’d be; I can’t fathom why he’s never made it! I know I sure wish he was President;  I’ve wished he were President ever since Ike left the White House.

Today’s quote from a “someone else” who I would rather set my face on fire than see have any power whatsoever: Bernie Sanders, who, while bloviating that “Climate change is an existential threat to the entire country and the entire world and we must be extraordinarily aggressive,” proposed an impossible, bankrupting, irresponsible 16 trillion dollar plan to “fix” what he doesn’t personally understand, couldn’t explain with a gun to his head, cannot say with certainty how it can be addressed effectively, and could be stumped by a cross examination by any climate change skeptic with a science degree. Bernie doesn’t even understand political science, and that was his college major. Proposing spending trillions of dollars on something you don’t understand is unethical. Isn’t that obvious?

2.  This should be a free standing post, except that there’s no participant in it I care enough about. Sean Spicer, President Trump’s fumbling, bumbling press secretary, was chosen to be a contestant on the next season of “Dancing With the Stars,”  that garbage TV  dance competition that is typically populated with has-beens, 15 minutes of fame recipients, and C-list celebrities.

You would think, based on the reaction of the progressive media,  that he had been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for no good reason, just to pick a fanciful analogy out of the air. Don’t Let Sean Spicer Tap-Dance Out of Infamy on ‘Dancing With the Stars’” metaphorically shouted the Times TV critic, as if this issue is even a legitimate topic for his narrow assignment. MSNBC actually posted a headline claiming that putting Spicer on the show undermines democracy. NBC’s “Think” page proclaimed that his participation is a slap in the face of every American.  [I just looked at the list of past participants, which includes heroin addicts, domestic abusers,  sex film stars and worse among the flotsam and jetsam of our sick culture.How in the world can casting anyone or anything in such a show be a “slap in the face”?]

Why the outrage, then? It is not because Spicer was any more dishonest than any other Presidential press secretary, because he demonstrably was not. Oh, he was less adept at it than most, I’ll grant that, but the job is, as constructed, the paid liar for the White House.  Various CNN talking heads have nonetheless attacked Spicer and the ABC show for casting him, which really sets new records in hypocrisy and gall.  Remember this guy?

The New York Governor who had been a crusading anti-sex ring prosecutor, and then was caught in a sex ring himself? That would be Eliot Spitzer, who CNN subsequently hired to host his own show. Not a show in which his participation would consist of making an ass of himself trying to make like Fred Astaire, mind you, but a show that was supposed to enlighten and inform Americans, based on the insights of a felon.

Then there is this guy…remember him?

That’s Jay Carney, one of Obama’s habitually lying and spinning spokesmen.  When the press was timidly raising questions about various and serious scandals—the IRS, Benghazi, Justice Department cover-ups, and more—Carney compared them all to the phony Obama birth certificate flap. That is to say that he was covering up genuine misconduct, and that’s the most egregious kind of lying for a White House representative.

Carney really fell on his sword for his boss in the Benghazi cover-up:

In a September 14, 2012 briefing, Carney himself presented, and unequivocally so, what is now known to be the false Administration narrative that the attack on the Benghazi outpost was not “directed at the United States” but was instead the direct result of an anti-Muslim YouTube video, saying, “This is a fairly volatile situation, and it is in response not to United States policy, obviously not to the administration, not to the American people. It is in response to a video, a film, that we have judged to be reprehensible and disgusting — that in no way justifies any violent reaction to it.” In a Nov. 28, 2012, news briefing  Carney insisted that there was a “single adjustment” made to the CIA talking points regarding the attack by the Administration, “changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility.’ ”

On Friday of this week, ABC’s Jonathan Karl, picking up from a similar report by the Weekly Standard, reported that a review of emails proved that those talking points were subjected to 12 significant revisions, orchestrated by the State Department, resulting in the removal of any references to warnings, terror, or the al-Qaida-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia.

CNN hired him too. Nobody in the mainstream news media complained that this was cynical, biased and inappropriate (but I did!).

You know what the most unforgivable lie that Spicer advanced was, don’t you? Why, it was supporting the President’s fanciful assessment of the size of his inauguration crowd! How dare he! If only he stuck to throwing up smoke to hide a Federal agency sabotaging opposition in a Presidential election, or hiding the facts about a deadly attack on a diplomatic outpost—you know, minor obfuscations like that.

Spicer is, to summarize, no more of a double-talking liar than other recent occupants of his job. His crime is that he did this job for a President that the biased news media hates and wanted to take down. For that, the Times thinks its fair and reasonable to write,

To treat Spicer, and his reason for notoriety, as a harmless joke is to whitewash the harm of what he did, which was to say things so absurdly false that he invited his political side to join him in denying their own eyeballs, to encourage people to believe that facts don’t matter if they hurt your team….Letting Sean Spicer tango onto prime time this fall is not the largest disgrace of all time. But it’s still a disgrace. Period.

No, what is a disgrace is the dishonest and hypocritical claims by those who enabled and supported lies, frequently more material ones, from other Presidents that Sean Spicer, uniquely among those who have held his job, must be punished in perpetuity. What is a disgrace is the flagrant double standard, the Big Lie about lies, that Trump’s misrepresentations are unlike anything we have heard from Presidents before, and so he and his minions must be treated differently. (Another “lie” cited in the Times attack was Spicer’s support for the President’s claim that he was “wiretapped” by the Obama intelligence agencies. No, not “wiretapped,” just surveilled, quite probably illegally, using false evidence as a justification. Presumably we shall see when the investigation into this shady business is competed.)

The Ethics Alarms position is the same it has always been. When a Presidential spokesperson has been shown to have lied beyond question on any matter of substance, then that spokesperson should resign. If White Houses found themselves changing press secretaries every other week, maybe the horrible traditions of the job would change.

What we are seeing with the attacks on Sean Spicer is an escalation of “the resistance’s” search and destroy mission to intimidate any staff, supporters, appointees or voters for this President. Because of their beliefs and loyalties, they are not even fit to appear on “Dancing With the Stars.”

I can’t imagine falling much lower than that.


23 thoughts on “Sad Saturday Ethics Distraction, 8/24/2019: The Let Sean Spicer Make A Fool of Himself If He Wants To Edition

  1. I sort of agree with the criticism of Spicer. Politics should keep its distance from pop culture (of course, this coming from a guy living in the State that elected Jesse Ventura and Al Franken); of course, that is kind of hard when a celebrity gets elected president.

    Now, I would not be surprised if other former political people have shown up on Dancing with the Stars (Rod Blagojevich? Completely plausible.). But, here is where I am going out a bit on a limb, for someone in the political realm, a role in the political media, yes, even MSNBC, should be considered “less embarrassing “ (took me several minutes to come up with that phrase amongst several choices) than a dancing show. The dancing show is for your Urkels, Emmit Smiths, and Kirstie Allies; you know, people with too much self-respect to sit on the panel of Morning Joe.


    • Tom Delay, Rick Perry and Tucker Carlson have all been on that show. It’s a quick 150K even if booted off after one appearance.

    • But Jut, if Paul Begala or Van Jones or AOC or Nancy Pelosi or RBG were on Dancing with the Stars, the media would consider it admirable beyond words.

    • On that, I hardily agree, but it’s a different issue, as you know. They aren’t saying that it’s improper for a former pres secretary to appear on a cheesy dance show, far from it. Their saying that the cheesy dance show is too good for THIS press secretary. On your issue, I am adamant that neither politicians nor journalists should cross over into the entertainment or advertising realm, even when they are good at it, like Fred Thompson.

  2. So
    What do you make of Andrew McCabe hiring as a CNN contributor?

    What happend if the IG refers him to Durham for charges and a grand jury returns a true bill against McCabe?


    But that is not the point. Even antidiscrimination laws, as critically important as they are, must yield to the Constitution. And as compelling as the interest in preventing discriminatory conduct may be, speech is treated differently under the First Amendment. See Hurley (“While the law is free to promote all sorts of conduct in place of harmful behavior, it is not free to interfere with speech for no better reason than promoting an approved message or discouraging a disfavored one, however enlightened either purpose may strike the government.”). As the Supreme Court has explained, even if the government may prohibit “the act of discriminating against individuals in the provision of publicly available goods, privileges, and services,” it may not “declar[e] [another’s] speech itself to be [a] public accommodation” or grant “protected individuals … the right to participate in [another’s] speech.”

    Here was my comment:

    So a videographer can refuse to film a Catholic baptism, even if the client was a non-Catholic offering to purchase the service for a Catholic friend.

    Is this what our Constitution requires?

    and here was Eugene Volokh’s reply.

    Michael Ejercito: Yes, I think our Constitution requires precisely that, just as a freelance writer can refuse to write items praising the Catholic Church even if he generally takes commissions to write items praising other religious groups.

  4. I’m still boggled by saying a dancing press secretary is a threat to democracy. After all, isn’t a press secretary’s job to tap dance around the truth, both for good cause and less noble ones? This is far more benign, no matter his personal views or work missions, as the dancing doesn’t carry much risk of aggravating independants. It will rile most of the left who have lost touch with reality, those in the 65% noted higher up. Shows them as ever more nuts.

    • That’s actually a pretty good joke. All silliness aside, this doesn’t come as a surprise. To the liberal or the journalist (but I repeat myself), the only fitting ultimate fate for any conservative official or donor is to fade into ignominious obscurity or to die. Check out Bill Maher’s latest line about how great it is that Charles Koch died of cancer.

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