Monday, July 31, 2017

Passive, Pliable Priebus

When Sean Spicer was discharged from his position as presidential press secretary, Jack Shafer wrote

The White House attracts all manner of toadies, suckups and flatterers seeking the president's favor, but never did any staffer demean, degrade and humble himself to the chief executive the way outgoing press secretary Sean Spicer did. Abandoning the arts of both persuasion and elision that have served previous prevaricating press secretaries so well, Spicer flung barb-tongued lies in the service of President Donald Trump.

Waste no tears on Spicer, Shafer maintained, because "Had his nose grown with every Pinocchio he uttered, it would have reached the moon." He asks rhetorically

What thanks did Spicer earn for his months of debasement in service to Trump? The early and steady drumbeat from the Oval Office that the president was “disappointed” in his performance, as CNN’s Jim Acosta reported in early February, and never-ending whispers that he would soon be sacked, which finally came true today. He gave Trump the red blood of his undying loyalty. Trump gave him the pink slip.

Do you want debasement? True debasement began when

 “I am pleased to inform you that I have just named General/Secretary John F Kelly as White House Chief of Staff,” Trump tweeted from the tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base, where Priebus still sat waiting in a black SUV. Other aides riding with him hopped into a different car once the tweet posted. His SUV separated from the motorcade and went on a rainy ride through Washington alone.

Debasement continued and was raised to an Olympian level when on Friday morning, Wolf Blitzer asked Priebus how he was doing and he responded "I'm doing great."

Just the way you and I would be doing if we had just been fired.  To make matters worse, Priebus evidently had to debase himself when talking about the guy who took his job at the moment he himself was sacked.    "I think General Kelly is a brilliant pick," the former RNC chairperson said, and "you know, the president was great."

He  added "this is not like a situation where there is a bunch of ill will feelings. This is, I think, good for the president" to have forced him out. But he wasn't fired: oh, no, he practically made the decision himself.

"Any time either one of us think that we need to make a change or move in a different direction," Priebus rationalized, "just talk about it and get it done. And, so, I think the president thought about that and we talked about it yesterday. And I resigned and he accepted my resignation."

Priebus continued to be impressively inauthentic. The President "was right to hit the reset button" because "bringing in fresh people is a good thing."  (That fresh person already was chairperson of the Department of Homeland Security, but never mind.)  Trump "wanted to go a different direction" and "I support him in that." "I support what the President did," Priebus claimed, "and I offered my resignation and he agreed and we moved on. He accepted it."

While telling the American people how happy he was to be fired- make that "to resign"- Priebus was allowed on at least four occasions to avoid even attempting to pretend to answer a question. "I'm not going to get into that, Wolf," then "I'm not getting into that, Wolf," followed by "I'm not going to get into his (Scaramcci's) accusations," and finally "I'm not going to get into that one, either."

Todd Purdum recognizes that Priebus "had repeatedly beseeched Trump to modulate his message and play well with the other candidates in the crowded Republican field."  The President "saw that as a sign of weakness, and responded accordingly," unsurprising for a man whose bosom heaves heavily for men in uniform- Mattis, McMaster, Kelly,  

Spicer, who evidently is looking forward to a presidential campaign in 2024 by Mike Pence, is no prize, either.  But unlike Priebus, he doesn't say "I'm on Team Trump, I'm a Trump fan" and wallowing in humiliation.

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