The Trump press strategy used to be that when Press Secretary Sean Spicer said something especially stupid to reporters, presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway would rush out and try to salvage Spicer's comment. For instance, when the Spicer reacted to media reports that claimed the crowd size at Trump's inauguration was smaller than those of other recent presidential inaugurations, he charged that the media had deliberately underestimated the crowd size. Trump's swearing-in, the erstwhile flack contended, had drawn the "largest audience to ever witness an inauguration - period - both in person and around the globe."
Spicer's boast was easy to prove false, and when Chuck Todd questioned Kellyanne about the press secretary's bold-faced lie on Meet the Press, she responded that his statement was based on "alternative facts." Todd quickly countered by saying that "alternative facts" were "falsehoods," and Conway got in a snit accusing the host of the show of trying to make her look "ridiculous."
Well, she was being ridiculous.
Now, nearly three months later, Sean Spicer is still Trump's press secretary, though God and Donald Trump alone know why, and he is still bumbling his way through scrimmages with reporters. Yesterday, in an attempt to defend his boss's missile attack on Syria, Spicer was commenting on the sinister nature of Syria's leader, Bashar Al-Assad, when he noted that Assad's use of chemical weapons on his own people was an unprecedented atrocity. Spicer said that even Adolph Hitler had never used chemical weapons on his own people.
That statement, coupled with the historical reality of the deaths of more than six million Jews in Hitler's gas chambers, left much of the world sputtering in disbelief - and Kellyanne Conway did not rush out to try and save the day. Later, in trying to clarify his remarks, Spicer said that Hitler had not killed his victims in the same manner as Assad, but had instead sent them to "Holocaust centers," a term so vague and inoffensive-sounding as to almost make one think of "visitor centers."
Today the bumbling White House press secretary is apologizing.
There are at least two schools of thought on why Spicer said what he did. The first is that he lacks the educational background to be fully cognizant of history - or the "he is just too damn stupid to know better" defense. By that logic, the presidential spokesman is someone who would have difficulty passing a comprehensive junior high American history exam.
Another option would be that the press secretary does have a passable knowledge of World War II, but that he does not consider European and German Jews to have been Hitler's people. That ideology is something likely to have germinated or festered-up in the Steve Bannon wing of the White House, a place where a purer sense of German identity and Nazi philosophy is apt to be fostered. Those troublesome Jews were not, from an alt right perspective, Hitler's people - and therefore he never gassed his own people.
Are we listening to Stupid Sean Spicer, or is Trump being represented by Sinister Sean Spicer? Neither version should be acceptable in a modern and enlightened world. If the White House press secretary doesn't have the strength of character and common decency to resign, he should be fired.
And after Spicer exits the White House, perhaps he should consider going back to school where a whole world of actual facts await his discovery.