Sean Spicer: Washington wordsmith

One of our local communities is considering raising the rates at its transfer station. I’ve never traveled by rail across our country, but there’s something about transfer station that evokes a train filled with tourists arriving at a picturesque community to board the next train on which they will continue their journey. “Hey everybody, it’s the transfer station!” and the excitement can hardly be contained. Unfortunately, around here, when I have something big to throw away, my trip to the transfer station is a lot like going to the dump. I can usually contain my excitement.

A few days ago when traveler David Dao’s limp body was dragged off a United flight, the airline’s CEO publicly regretted the re-accommodation of passengers, including Dr. Dao. The shock we experienced upon seeing the video could only be matched by the shock we experienced when we learned that re-accommodation is a legal right in the airline industry. It’s akin to abduction, being “taken” in Liam Neeson-speak, but without the guilty pleasure if watching Mr. Neeson rescue you and murder your abductors. (At the next United board meeting, Dr. Dao will probably be labeled collateral damage, which has always sounded better than—but always meant the same as—innocent victims.

Which brings us to the master of ignorant semantics, Sean Spicer. Nobody thinks on his feet worse than he does, and nobody could ever be more ill-suited to a particular job than Spicer is to that of White House Press Secretary. He obviously spends his mornings conversing with the genuinely ill-informed, only to react in sheer amazement when others point out the idiocy of his comments. I can imagine him early yesterday running that “Bashad is worse than Hitler—even Hitler never used chemical weapons” scenario past the Oval Office sycophants and garnering enthusiastic applause. Later, when he was called on the validity of the argument, his retractions were more pathetic than the opening blunder. Before his final blanket apology for having ever said anything…ever, Spicer maintained that Bashar al-Assad was worse because at least Hitler didn’t kill his own people. Best estimates, Mr. Spicer, are that 300,000 Germans, half of them Jewish, were put to death out of, oh let’s call them nationalistic concerns. Germany first! (And from the Who’s counting? department, in the neighborhood of three million Germans died fighting Hitler’s war.) Yeah, Hitler killed his own people—that’s what dictators do.

The credibility (sorry to use that word) of the Trump presidency relies on two major factors: white America’s’ irrational and unjustifiable prejudice toward everyone else, and our baffling ignorance of history. Jeff Sessions will ensure a continuation of the former, and Betsy DeVos can be relied upon to to decimate the public school system. Still, catching people like Sean Spicer spreading half truths and making absurd comparisons has to count for more than the occasional “gotcha.” Every one of these shameful comments must be held up as further proof that it is not the province of the Press Secretary to embarrass the country on a daily basis. That job belongs to his boss.

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Chuck Radda

I'm a former high school English teacher, currently a literacy volunteer and novelist. I invite your responses right here or to chuckradda@gmail.com. You can also follow me on Facebook and on Twitter—where I tweet annually at @chuckrad45.

2 thoughts on “Sean Spicer: Washington wordsmith”

  1. Also gas was used during WW1. my uncle was gased in France during that war and he for the rest of his life he never took a deep breath again. the remainder of his life was hell. Just passing a little history on for those who don’t know.

  2. If these yokels don’t know anything about WWII, you can’t expect them even to have heard of the Great War. It’s awful the torture that gas can inflict—thanks for sharing that story.

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