Happy Hanukkah! Mother Jones is celebrating this year’s festival of lights with a festival of slights. Specifically, President Donald Trump’s slights toward the Jewish people.
At this point, you might be so used to the relatively articulate presence of White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders that the gaffe-filled tenure of Sean Spicer seems like a distant memory.
As the Trump administration’s original choice to lead its high-profile press briefings, Spicer’s first outing was marked by an absurd debate over how many people had attended the president’s inauguration, setting the stage for previously unthinkable clashes between the podium and the press.
One came on April 11, after Spicer suggested that Russia’s patience with its ally Bashar al-Assad might be wearing thin after the Syrian dictator had deployed chemical weapons. “Someone as despicable as Hitler,” Spicer explained, “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.”
Given the Nazi regime’s use of poison gas in its genocide against Jews and other undesirables, a reporter quickly gave Spicer an opportunity to clarify his remark.
“He was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing,” Spicer said, trying to grasp a distinction or a train of thought that seemed apparent only to himself. “He brought them into the Holocaust centers,” Spicer explained, coining his own term for the Nazi’s concentration camps. “I understand that. But I’m saying in the way that Assad used them, where he went into towns, dropped them down to innocent—into the middle of towns.”
The next evening, Spicer appeared on CNN to mop up. “I mistakenly used an inappropriate and insensitive reference to the Holocaust, for which frankly there is no comparison. For that I apologize. It was a mistake to do that,” Spicer said. “I should have stayed focussed on the Assad regime.”
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