The world of power evacuated Sean Michael Spicer today, and we are all diminished by it. A hysterical, screeching light has vanished from politics. Palmeri and White reported for Politico that
White House press secretary Sean Spicer has resigned, according to multiple officials, after President Donald Trump decided to name Anthony Scaramucci, a Wall Street financier and longtime Trump supporter, as the new White House communications director.
It was appropriate that the Press Secretary quit due to a White House feud. His entire tenure was marked by feud: with the press, with truth, and eventually with the President.
As Spicer begins to fade from the visible spectrum of reality, disintegrating into his baseline nutrients of sad and frustrated, his voice will grow increasingly shrill. “I exist! I exist! I was Press Secretary!” the disappearing Jedi ghost will howl, tinny-sounding, as he dematerializes into the void.
Spicer had one job: handle the media and make the President’s life easier. He fiascoed both, and his 182-day disintegration was a long, macabre spectacle both onscreen and in the District of Columbia. The unraveling became cruel sport: when would he go? You could see his future crumple every time he appeared on television: there would be no distinguished professorships of rhetoric at the Sorbonne, no light-hearted memoir about his time jousting with the reporters. At most, what awaits Sean Spicer in his retirement is a series of bathroom-mirror monologues about where it went wrong. The simplest answer is: everywhere.
The Press Secretary is not a noble profession. An armada of professional hype-men surrounds every President, and the Press Secretary is their boss. Most of them are fed an elephant-killer’s ransom for the pleasure of spinning make-believe for the world’s most powerful man. Occasionally the President, or one of his Chief Justices, will feed their flunky a dainty grape or olive from the edge of a golden knife, and the Press Secretary must be satisfied with that.
Of the Secretaries themselves, I have already forgotten many of their names and certainly the most objectionable sections of their faces. They blend together in an impressionist fever of terse-faced Men’s Wearhouse salespeople—the disappointed Dads and disgruntled Moms to the press corps. To a person, they were a klatch of spinners, thrown out between the President and the Press Corps. Their job is to counteract every negative word said about the Commander-in-Chief. What is it like, to be an adult whose sole job is to defend the President’s golf score? Every time a White House pet transgressed the boundaries of good taste, the Press Sec was there to describe it as a vital win for the elongated glory of the White House. What a terrible fate. And then came Spicer, and his rupture and eventual political extinction somehow changed the game.
He broke the mold. Every mold. Much as Batman always existed within Bruce Wayne, the tragic figure of Press Secretary Spicer was always waiting within private citizen Sean Spicer:
In college he was a student senator. In April 1993, an article in the student paper, The College Voice, referred to Spicer as “Sean Sphincter”; Spicer submitted an angry complaint to the paper and followed up by pushing for college judicial action against the paper, for which he received further ribbing from the campus satirical publication Blats.
Living through this Administration is like eating the worst meal in human history. Spicer was the restaurant manager in a logoed polo shirt who kept coming by to ask us if there’s anything we need, and then yelled at us when we wanted the order fixed.
Spicer appeared in front of us every day, and that was his doom. Oh, how he talked. Like Robert Frost’s road less traveled, that made all the difference.
On January 21, he told us that
This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe.
When a five-year-old child was detained, Spicer informed us
To assume someone because of their age or gender, that they don’t pose a threat, would be wrong.
There was his lesson about the Second World War:
“We didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II,” he said. “You had someone as despicable as Hitler didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons. If you’re Russia, you have to ask yourself if this is a country and regime that you want to align yourself with.”
The man was an outrage. For some reason, he was the too much at the end of the nightmare. Trump broke the camel’s back and buried it—and then Spicer kept trying to resurrect the beast. This seemed wrong—seriously wrong, like seeing your parents smoke crack in retirement.
Even in January, we all understood that Trump was scourge of God, and we were all ashamed of it. But to have this normalizing stooge bray out blatant falsehoods day in and day out was too much. Bad enough to be mugged, but to have the mugger’s friend come to you and say, “You weren’t actually robbed by him; you robbed him of joy” is somehow even worse.
This is was what Spicer implied: the vision of a world where a man like Press Secretary Spicer could be taken seriously. Trump being President is already an orgy of horror. Spicer found a way to make it worse. Historians will regard Spicer’s tenure to be what it always was: an alternative fact. Sad!