Sean Spicer, do not take your job back
No matter what happens following the ouster of Anthony Scaramucci, Spicer should not go back to the White House
Sean Spicer is the nicest man in the Trump administration. In a few days he will be one of the nicest men outside of it. No matter what happens following the ouster of Anthony Scaramucci, President Trump's handpicked ex-Goldman Sachs wannabe gangster communications director, under whom Spicer refused to serve, he should not go back to the White House.
It was going to be a difficult job no matter what. Very few people can claim to have enjoyed being White House press secretary. No stable, rational human being could be expected to cope for more than a few months with the hulking impossibility of pretending that our president has a coherent policy agenda, much less a series of concrete positions on issues of public importance.
Trump is not a wonk. He has a very special relationship with truth, with facts, with what the rest of us in our humble benighted way think of as the real world. There is no fixed Trumpean ontology — only a Trumpean epistemology grounded in (sometimes understandable) hatred of the press, which enables a Trumpean phenomenology of hand-waving, back-tracking, name-calling, insult-leveling, threat-making, and public temper tantrums.
Spicer is not a born Trumpean. He is not a vicious or a mean-spirited man. He is a good-natured, dorky, painfully suburban working dad. He is not flashy or abrasive. He wears bad clothes. He has doubtless logged more than a few miles behind the wheel of a mini-van en route to a soccer tournament. He probably owns at least one pair of Crocs.
The other thing Spicer clearly is not is an experienced or natural liar. He did not find it easy to will hundreds of thousands of people into existence ex post facto in order to square with the president's reality in which his was the most attended inauguration in history. Spicer was visibly uncomfortable insisting that photos showing smaller crowd sizes were the work of malicious agents in the National Parks Service. He may or may not believe in fairies, but it did not look very much like he believed that, when his boss claimed President Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower, he really meant something other than that President Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower. He just had to say it for money.
Which is why it was so painful to watch Spicer get shouted at and abused and owned on Twitter by people who know all too well that what he was trying to do is impossible. It doesn't help that vast swathes of the media are preening, self-congratulatory, childish, and obsessed with procedural trivialities. Is finally getting to the bottom of "covfefe" the reason we have a free and independent press under the First Amendment in this country? Why would you make a fuss about the fact that Spicer put on makeup before going on television — is this a sinister denial of your hoary liberties or just adolescent bullying?
A less decent, but more qualified, press secretary would say things a lot harsher than "Sit down and raise your hand like a big boy" in response to the daily inanities proffered in the West Wing theater. Spicer should be happy that he quit. He made the right decision by resigning, but it had nothing to do with Scaramucci, dreadful as it might have been to work under a man for whom threats of murder are routine subjects of telephone conversation. Mooch was typical of the Trump administration, not an outlier. He was its barely concealed id; Spicer was the superego. But Trump doesn't seem to require a conscience, only mean-spirited yes men.
The real question that remains is what this teddy-bearish Catholic father of two should do now that he is no longer serving as a professional punching-bag for journalists. Any number of things have been suggested, including a stint on Dancing With the Stars, where his predecessors, some more illustrious than others, include Tucker Carlson and Rick Perry, the former Texas governor and Trump's current energy secretary. They are both dads too and seemingly nice enough. He could probably hit them up for tips.
Another possibility is guest-hosting Saturday Night Live. I do not think Melissa McCarthy's imitation of him was very convincing or amusing, but it would be a nice gesture to ask him on. Maybe opposite her he could play a journalist.
He could also just be a stay-at-home dad for a while.
Whatever Spicer ends up doing with his time, he should take comfort in his realization that he cannot do something impossible. That is the definition of sanity.