It was supposed to be a slow week in Washington. Congress was gone for the Passover and Easter holidays. President Donald Trump was headed to Mar-a-Lago — natch — for a long weekend with promises that it would be newsless.
For White House press secretary Sean Spicer, it seemed perfect: Knock out a few press briefings early in the week and then coast into a much-deserved break.
Didn’t turn out that way after his latest comments landed him on some serious hot water.
On Monday, Spicer was asked what the Trump administration’s policy was as regards Syria — following on Trump’s decision to launch 60 Tomahawk missiles at an air base believed to be the launch site of a chemical attack on civilians. Here’s what he said: “If you gas a baby, if you put a barrel bomb into innocent people, I think you will see a response from this President.”
Hours later, Spicer was out with a clarification. “Nothing has changed in our posture,” he said.
Ok. Not great. But, a mistake relatively quickly fixed isn’t a big deal.
Then came Tuesday — a day Spicer would like to erase from history.
It all started when he sought to explain the outrageous actions taken by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in gassing his own people. “You had someone who was despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” Spicer said, breaking the first rule of politics — never, ever compare anything to Hitler or Nazi Germany.
Spicer was then given the chance to walk away from his Assad-Hitler comparison. Somehow, he made it worse. “[Hitler] brought them into the Holocaust centers, I understand that,” Spicer said. “But in the way that Assad used them, where he went into towns and dropped them down to innocent in the middle of towns.”
Er, no. Trying to fix your mistake by using a technicality that Assad dropped the chemical weapons on his people while Hitler didn’t is, um, a stone cold political loser. Also, “Holocaust centers”? Seriously?
The White House press office subsequently released two other statements trying to clean up Spicer’s mess. Spicer finally got it right in an interview with Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday afternoon.
“Frankly, I mistakenly made an inappropriate and insensitive reference to the Holocaust, for which there is no comparison,” Spicer said. “And for that I apologize. It was a mistake to do that.”
The damage was very much done. The director of the Anne Frank Center called for Spicer’s resignation. So did Colorado Republican Rep. Mike Coffman.
As of this writing, Spicer was still hanging on. But, for a President who doesn’t like when his underlings a) screw up or b) when those screw-ups make news, the past week hasn’t been a good one for Spicer’s long-term future with the White House.
Sean Spicer, for forgetting Godwin’s Law, you had the Worst Week in Washington. Congrats, or something.