January 26th, 2017

Spicer’s lament

In that long long first press conference of Spicer, most of the attention went to the crowd count question. But embedded in all the verbiage was a far more interesting sequence, almost a monologue by Spicer in which he does something rather unusual for a press secretary: speaks from the heart.

Or seemingly from the heart.

You might say, “So what?” But I urge you to read it anyway; I found it fascinating and quite unusual. I think Spicer was appealing to his fellow Washington hands in the communication business, some of whom I assume he may have known for years, and letting them know—this time in a fairly gentle way, as opposed to his initial statements the day after the inauguration—what it feels like to be in the position he’s in. Or even the position Donald Trump is in [emphasis mine]:

QUESTION: But — but in terms of the crowd size issue…why did you come out Saturday afternoon to talk about that?…

SPICER:…it’s not — it’s not just about a crowd size. It’s about this constant — you know, [Trump’s] not going to run. Then if he runs, he’s going to drop out. Then if he runs, he can’t win, there’s no way he can win Pennsylvania, there’s no way he can win Michigan.

SPICER: Then, if won, it’s oh, well he(ph) — there is this constant theme to undercut the enormous support that he has. And I think that it’s just unbelievably frustrating when you’re continually told it’s not big enough, it’s not good enough, you can’t win.

QUESTION: And — and if I may —

SPICER: Hold on — because I — I think it’s important. He’s gone out there and defied the odds over and over and over again. And he keeps getting told what he can’t do by this narrative that’s out there. And he exceeds it every single time. And I think there’s an overall frustration when you — when you turn on the television over and over again and get told that there’s this narrative that you didn’t win. You weren’t going to run. You can’t pick up this state.

That’s not — you know, that’s a fool’s errand to go to Pennsylvania. Why is he in Michigan? How silly, they’ll never vote for him. A Republican hasn’t won that state since ’88. And then he goes and he does it and then what’s the next narrative? Well, it must have been because of this. He didn’t win that. And then people aren’t attending anything or John Lewis is the first person to skip his inauguration. Not true.

And over and over again, the MLK bust. I think over and over again there’s this constant attempt to undermine his credibility and the movement that he represents. And it’s frustrating for not just him, but I think so many of us that are trying to work to get this message out. And so I mentioned this to John, part of this is a two- way street. We want to have a healthy dialogue, not just with you but the American people because he’s fighting for jobs, he’s fighting to make this country safer.

But when you’re constantly getting told that can’t be true, we doubt that you can do this, this won’t happen, and that’s the narrative when you turn on television every single day, it’s a little frustrating.

And I think that for those people around him, his senior team especially, but so many of the other folks that are either here in the administration, that gave up their time during the transition, they left a job to work for three or four weeks because they are so committed to having his nominees get through, it’s a little demoralizing to turn on the TV day after day and hear, can’t do this, this guy’s not going to get confirmed, not way they’re going to go through.

QUESTION: But isn’t that just part of the conversation that happens in Washington…

SPICER: No, it’s not. I think…

QUESTION: … in D.C., that comes from being president of the United States and working at the White House?

SPICER: No. No, look, I’ve been doing this a long time, you’ve been doing this too. I’ve never seen it like this, Jim, I’ve never — and again, I’m not looking to go back and forth, but you’re asking for an explanation.

And I think that it’s important to understand, that whether it’s the president himself, the vice president, the senior team, the volunteers or the people who are out there just in America that voted for him or walked the streets or put up a sign, that to constantly be told no, no, no and watch him go yes, yes, yes every time and to come up to the next hurdle and see someone put a block up gets a little frustrating.

And I think that we are — and so, you see this historic thing. And he stands there at the Capitol and I was not that close but, you know, on the platform, and you look out and all your — it’s an amazing view. And it’s just so many people who got in long lines, who had to go around all this different stuff to get in. And that was for the first time that we did have to go through fencing that far out.

And then to hear, “Well, look at this shot,” and it’s not — “It wasn’t that big.” It’s a little demoralizing because when you’re sitting there and you’re looking out and you’re in awe of just how awesome that view is and how many people are there and you go back and you turn on the television and you see shots of comparing this and that. And then you look at the stuff that’s happening.

The nominees to get put out (ph), the Democrats stopping — there are two Cabinet officials, ladies and gentleman, that are taking their office today. He visited the CIA and a director that was considered a consensus candidate wasn’t approved. Where’s the story? And I think that — so it…

QUESTION: Isn’t it a fair criticism that you’ve got bigger fish to fry? Why worry about a couple of tweets about crowd size?

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: Because it’s not — because that’s what I’m saying, you’re minimizing the point here, Jim. It’s not about one Tweet. It’s not about one picture. It’s about a constant theme. It’s about sitting here every time and being told no. “Well, we don’t think he can do that, he’ll never accomplish that, he can’t win that, it won’t be the biggest, it’s not gonna be that good. The crowds aren’t that big, he’s not that successful.”

The narrative — and the default narrative is always negative and it’s demoralizing. And I think that when you sit here and you realize the sacrifice the guy made, leaving a very, very successful business because he really cares about this country and he wants — despite your partisan differences, he cares about making this country better for everybody. He wants to make it safer for everybody. And so when you wake up everyday and that’s what you’re seeing over and over again and you’re not seeing stories about the Cabinet folks that he’s appointing or the success that he’s having trying to keep American jobs here. Yes, it is a little disappointing.

So, I just — it’s — you know…

QUESTION: It’s not always going to be positive.

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: No, it’s not, and sometimes we’ll make mistakes. I promise you that. But it’s not always got to be negative, Jim. Some days, we do do the right thing. Some days we are successful. So it’s not — part of us is saying, when we’re right, say we’re right. When we’re wrong, say we’re wrong. But it’s not always wrong and negative. There are things — there’s a lot of things that he’s done already, a lot of amazing people that he’s appointed, a lot of success that he’s having.

And it would be once — nice once in a while for someone just to say — report it straight up, he appointed this person, here’s their background. Not why they’re not gonna get nominated, not why it’s not gonna happen.

QUESTION: Thanks, Sean.

I can’t recall hearing anything quite like that from a press secretary before. Or even remotely like it. It’s a cri de coeur—a pretty long one, too. I excerpted a good deal of it because I think that its length was part of the strength of its impact—at least on me.

I wouldn’t count on its changing anything with the press corps. In fact, I don’t really think it will. But it certainly humanizes him—and, by implication, Trump.

56 Responses to “Spicer’s lament”

  1. Griffin Says:

    The question I have been contemplating these last few weeks is how much of this never ending attack and just plain hysteria from the media is because it is Trump that is president and how much of it is because a Republican is president?

    I think that it is safe to say that if we were dealing with a President Ted Cruz right now we would be seeing an extreme amount of vitriol from the same people with maybe different areas of emphasis but anger just the same. Just look at how they treated George W. Bush who was by all reasonable accounts a good man whether you agreed with him or not but was still subjected to unbelievable levels of hate.

    So for me this is definitely because of who Trump is but it is more because of that (R) after his name.

  2. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Spicer is apparently laboring under the illusion that the mass media value fairness and objectivity.

    Clearly he hasn’t really grasped that ideologues can be personable. That many liberals are nice people who support ‘solutions’, that do far more harm than good and that they are in total denial of that unintended consequence.

    Evidently he has yet to realize that the media’s and democrat’s ethically abhorrent actions are being rationalized as validated by the ‘holiness’ of the ends they seek.

  3. AMartel Says:

    It’s what they do to every Republican. Undermine, deligitimize. The Bush Administration was one long howl from the press. Why worry about 1 or 2 tweets? Because of the retweeting. The media started this and the media lied when it started it. They showed an early photo which did not represent the full extent of the crowd that eventually showed up. You can’t let this stuff go or it just becomes part of the narrative. Bush let it go and it amplified. He was portrayed, fraudulently, as stupid. Trump and his team are doing the right thing by fighting back. Trump’s not just defending himself, he’s defending the people who voted for him.

  4. Artfsldgr Says:

    there is a lot of lamenting going on
    even the Lemmings Lament is back
    (between the politicians polarizing power trips… )

    the change over is amazing. from washington they took out protestors that tried to shut down busses and the crowds cheered them!!!!!!!!!!!! (oh oh for the agit prop and agent provacateurs and anarchists)

    and this, from a Missisipi Senator when they flooded his facebook and online:

    Senator Chris McDaniel
    on Monday

    I’ll give you radicals some credit; you have a large number of angry instigators ready for social media action. You’ve really swarmed this page. Thankfully, 95% of you live outside of MS.

    From my perspecitve, I understand your position. You love free stuff. I get it. Unfortunately, in your quest for freebies, your so-called “revolution of love” has become little more than intolerant hatred for anyone who disagrees. And that’s okay. You have that right.

    The tragic irony of the #WomensMarch is that most were marching for the “right” to violently end the lives of their unborn, including the lives of little girls.

    Making matters worse, you want us to pay for it even though we find the act of abortion to be morally repugnant. And then, because you love free stuff, you believe we should also pay for your birth control. Is there anything else we can help you with? A free cell phone, perhaps?

    So no, I don’t think we will ever agree. And that’s okay, too. I don’t want your vote.

    So bring it.

    Yell, curse, scream, threaten, and ridicule all you wish. I don’t care.

    It’s cute.

    But I’m not going anywhere. The more you push, the more I will resist. Even if I have to stand alone.

    Oh, one more thing: we are going to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal Obamacare.

    Have a good night.

  5. junior Says:

    Griffin, I suspect that Trump gets more because of the degree to which the press holds him in contempt. There’s always the usual anti-Republican bias. But Trump was the candidate that was supposed to lose because he was crude and boorish. To an extent even more so than any other Republican candidate, he’s seen as everything that’s wrong with America by the left.

  6. Montage Says:

    Why exactly does the size of the crowd matter?? Good grief, Trump is thin skinned and how absurd the media is to keep going on about the crowd. Of course Trump doesn’t make it easy. In the ABC interview he just gave he still was talking about the crowd size. Yeesh.

    http://www.mediaite.com/online/donald-trump-seriously-ended-his-abc-interview-by-talking-about-crowd-size/

  7. Griffin Says:

    junior, yep I agree but I would argue that if we had a President Cruz they would be attacking him relentlessly because he could be an existential threat to the Democrats as a Hispanic. There is not much the left hates more than what they consider a ‘traitor’ (Clarence Thomas, any prominent Republican woman) so they would be attacking any Republican right now but it would be maybe at a 8 level on the 1-10 scale as opposed to the current level 37 on the 1-10 scale for Trump.

  8. Liz Says:

    Montage – I think the press brought up & continues to bring up the issue. Trump is fighting back against the dishonesty. It was interesting to see that the interviewer brought up crowd sizes again. Here is the transcript.

    “Let me just ask you while we’re standing outside. Could you hear the voices from the women’s march here in Washington? We know there were more than a million people who turned out. And you are their president now, too.
    : It’s true.
    MUIR: Could you hear them from the White House?
    : No, I couldn’t hear them. But the crowds were large, but you’re going to have a large crowd on Friday, too, which is mostly pro-life people. You’re going to have a lot of people coming on Friday.
    And I will say this — and I didn’t realize this, but I was told — you will have a very large crowd of people. I don’t know, as large or larger. Some people say it’s going to be larger, pro-life people, and they say the press doesn’t cover them.
    MUIR: I don’t want to compare crowd sizes again.
    : No, you shouldn’t. But let me just say, what they do say is that the press doesn’t cover them.”

    So, Trump took a question about the size & noise of the protest march and turned it into a comment about the press not covering other marches. VP Pence is going to be in that march – so the press will have to cover the march.

    The press continues with topics that they think will upset Trump but they are the ones getting hit.

    But, if you had read the info presented about the press briefing, you would have known that the Sean S. was talking about the continued negativity about the campaign and how it impacts people.

  9. Liz Says:

    Sorry about the post – in the cut & paste job, “Muir” was written without any symbols around his name and “Trump” had some symbols which disappeared when posting. The “:” means that Trump was speaking.

    I should have hit the “preview” button.

  10. Liz Says:

    Another point concerning something that appears “thin-skinned” but I suspect it is a strategy – the voter fraud.

    The press didn’t think it was a big deal, but it was brought up again and Sean Spicer responded. The follow up question was “why don’t you just investigate?” And, the next day, Trump concurred and asked for an investigation.

    I think there is a Neo post on the issue – it’s two posts down.

  11. Les Says:

    I disagreed with much of George W. Bush’s policies and even didn’t vote for him the second time. But when 9/11 occurred I was happy he was in office because I believed he was a man of character and integrity.

    I’m not sure about Trump yet. Howeve, I think he’s surrounded himself with many who do have character and integrity. You’ve just given me an example of one such person.

  12. Frog Says:

    Spicer appealed for decency, truth, and fair play.
    He will not get it.
    Most scribes did not grant Trump that courtesy in the campaign. He had funny hair, he was not sufficiently “presidential”, he had a record of changing his mind on issues, he hob-nobbed with the Clintons as a private individual, and some of his remarks were villified though were not quoted in full.
    Yes, he engaged in what I have come to call public rumination, some thoughts which should not have been uttered, which generated a lot of hostility, both from MSM and from what became NeverTrumpers, who now seek their place at the table nevertheless.

  13. Mac Says:

    Let me ask y’all a question, only indirectly related to this. What did you make of Kellyanne Conway’s “alternate facts” remark? My liberal friends went nuts with that: “oh, she’s saying they can say anything and call it a fact!” I’m sure you heard it. I couldn’t quite believe she’s that much of a wack job, so I listened to the exchange where she said it (which I had not previously bothered to do).

    My impression is that she was only saying “Here is a different view–here are some other facts that you haven’t taken into consideration”.

    I said that to aforementioned liberal friends and was greeted with derision. So: am I just naive? Was she really saying the equivalent of “Greetings from another planet where your reality does not exist and mine does”?

  14. M J R Says:

    Mac, 7:37 pm —

    You’re the one with your head screwed on, although Kellyanne Conway certainly could have used better wording. In this environment, with Conway representing The Dark Side, anything that could have been done in a better way will be mercilessly ridiculed and derided.

    You’re the one with your head screwed on (again). The opposition are wack jobs champing at the bit for any sign of weakness, so they can circle in like the vultures they are and gleefully peck away.

    Sorry they’re among your friends; I’ve got a few among mine.

  15. Jesse Says:

    Jesus fn’ Christ neo get off it and onto something important — enough nods to the Alt Right. Are you still in Donations Mode?

  16. CV Says:

    Mac,

    I had the same impression of Conway’s remark about “alternative facts”….that she was essentially saying, “here are some other facts that should be taken into consideration.”

    But interviewer Chuck Todd responded immediately that “alternative facts” are lies. Maybe if she had said “additional facts” instead of “alternative facts” there would have been less opportunity for misinterpretation (intentional or otherwise) but Todd was poised to pounce with “gotcha” and yet another anti-Trump meme was off and running.

  17. Bill Says:

    It’s going to be a very interesting four years.

    My aversion to Donald Trump, from the beginning, was driven largely by his apparent absolute disregard for truth. I hate being lied to. Yes, most politicians spin or even lie at times. Trump seems to do it all the time.

    Regarding the crowd size – my guess is any link I supply will be disregarded by some of you as “fake news”. I can’t do anything about that.

    Here’s Snopes: they let you make up your own mind but there are a lot of facts: http://www.snopes.com/trump-inauguration-viewership/

    All that being said . . .

    Even Trump’s estimate of 1.5MM is lower than the 1.8MM that attended Obama’s 2009 inauguration.

    (probably mixing in a few threads on the site) – I watched Trump’s interview the other night. He is claiming 3 to 5MM illegal voters, *all* of whom voted against him.

    Do you know what kind of crazy conspiracy it would take to commit that level of voter fraud?

    I’m a lifelong Republican. I’m not a liberal, and have never been knee-jerk against a Republican president. But at some point I would hope, as we continuously get gas-lit by this administration, we could agree that lying to constituents is wrong.

  18. huxley Says:

    There is only one set of facts and liberals will let you know what they are, thank you very much.

  19. Oldflyer Says:

    I think that Spicer is an authentic person and a stand-up guy. I also think that is unacceptable, so they will attack him and try to eviscerate him, until he falls into line.

    What I do not know is this; is he ahead of the curve, does he understand the game and is he one or more moves ahead;or does he foolishly think that he can beat them at their game. when he does not have the ammunition for the long term?

    I am rooting for him; although I am not betting on him.

  20. Mac Says:

    M J R and CV, thanks, good to know I have company in that interpretation. I was struck, too, when I finally watched the clip (as opposed to reading about it) at just how quickly and eagerly Todd jumped at the worst interpretation, which is itself now a sort of alternate fact in the sense that he & others mean it.

  21. AesopFan Says:

    Here’s a posts on the subject of Trump’s press relations, and how the media is letting him sell them the rope to hang themselves.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/01/26/white-house-press-media-donald-trump-glenn-reynolds-column/97042872/?siteID=je6NUbpObpQ-JsZXwiUTGBVRumNocL1wEw

    Glenn Harlan Reynolds Published 8:04 a.m. ET Jan. 26, 2017 (aka Instapundit)
    “Why are the relations between Donald Trump and the press so bad? There are two reasons. One is that Trump is a Republican, and the press consists overwhelmingly of Democrats. But the other reason is that Trump likes it this way, because when the press is constantly attacking him over trivialities, it strengthens his position and weakens the press. Trump’s “outrageous” statements and tweets aren’t the product of impulsiveness, but part of a carefully maintained strategy that the press is too impulsive to resist. …
    In fact, Trump’s basically gaslighting them. Knowing how much they hate him, he’s constantly provoking them to go over the top. Sean Spicer’s crowd-size remarks on Saturday were all about making them seem petty and negative. (And, possibly, teeing up crowd size comparisons at this Friday’s March For Life, which the press normally ignores but which Trump will probably force them to cover).

    Trump knows that the press isn’t trusted very much, and that the less it’s trusted, the less it can hurt him. So he’s prodding reporters to do things that will make them less trusted, and they’re constantly taking the bait.

    They’re taking the bait because they think he’s dumb, and impulsive, and lacking self-control — but he’s the one causing them to act in ways that are dumb and impulsive, and demonstrate lack of self-control. …
    If the news media actually focused on reporting facts accurately and straightforwardly, on leaving opinion to the pundits, and on giving Trump a clearly fair shake, then Trump’s tactics wouldn’t work, and any actual dirt they found on him would do actual damage. He’s betting on the press being insufficiently mature and self-controlled to manage that. So far, his bet is paying off.

    That’s too bad. If we had a better press, we’d be much better off as a nation, and Trump’s strategy of capitalizing on the press’s flaws is good for Trump, but will probably make that problem worse, if such a thing is possible. But the truth is, we don’t have a better press. And as long as the press is mindlessly partisan and bereft of self-discipline, capitalizing on that is just good politics.”

  22. AesopFan Says:

    This article is a little more analytic and philosophical, but pretty much comes to the same conclusion.

    http://thefederalist.com/2017/01/23/donald-trump-first-president-turn-postmodernism/

    (by David Ernst)
    “If politics flows downwards from culture, then it was only a matter of time before a politician mastered the role. Love him or hate him, Donald Trump cracked that code. …
    Antiheroes have long found homes in Westerns, gangster movies, and crime dramas, such as Al Pacino’s portrayal of Miami drug kingpin Tony Montana in “Scarface.” …
    If Tony were a classic hero, this would have been the beginning of his moral reckoning and his search for repentance. But this is “Scarface,” and Tony is no hero, so he responds to his public exposure as a criminal in polite society by turning the mirror back on his audience and dressing them down: …
    Thus, from Tony’s perspective, what’s the point of being decent when the people who supposedly model “decency” have none of it themselves? Wouldn’t a sign of moral contrition to these people be a perverted mockery of moral contrition? Wouldn’t it be degrading even for Tony?

    Tony isn’t a hero or a villain: he’s an antihero. You probably won’t admit to rooting for him, but if you enjoyed watching him stick it to those (presumably) stuck-up hypocrites, then it’s likely that you did. …
    (referencing Trump)
    In other words: even if I have been a no-good, rotten, disgusting scoundrel, what does that make you? At least I don’t pretend to be decent; you people, on the other hand, have the gall to pretend that you’re any better than I am. Let’s dispense with the fiction that you would have treated me with any less contempt if I had bothered to live up to any of your standards of decency in the first place, and acknowledge that they have nothing to do with decency per se, and everything to do with power. Your presumption of any moral superiority is a willful, bald-faced lie, and I’m going to keep calling you on that crap until it puts me in the White House.

    Many have argued that Trump is the product of political correctness (PC). This is true only in part. Rather, both PC and Trump’s response to it are fruits of the postmodernism that has long ascended to the heights of our culture: …
    All this raises an uncomfortable question for people who have no use for PC’s agenda, and who value the freedom to think for themselves. How do you respond to someone who is determined to smear you for your alleged bigotry regardless of what you think and why? How do you win an argument against someone who willfully changes the meaning of words, maintains that the truth is completely relative, and feels perfectly justified in accusing virtually anyone of the gravest moral failure?…
    If our opponents are going to accuse us of being evil-minded bigots, regardless of what we say or think, then what’s the point in bothering to convince them otherwise? Let’s play by their own rules of relativism and subjectivity, dismiss their baseless accusations, and hammer them mercilessly where it hurts them the most: their hypocrisy. “

  23. The Other Chuck Says:

    Frog says:

    Spicer appealed for decency, truth, and fair play.

    You mean like the decency, truth, and fair play Trump exhibited during the campaign?

  24. AesopFan Says:

    CV Says:
    January 26th, 2017 at 8:57 pm
    Mac,

    I had the same impression of Conway’s remark about “alternative facts”….that she was essentially saying, “here are some other facts that should be taken into consideration.”

    But interviewer Chuck Todd responded immediately that “alternative facts” are lies. Maybe if she had said “additional facts” instead of “alternative facts” there would have been less opportunity for misinterpretation (intentional or otherwise) but Todd was poised to pounce with “gotcha” and yet another anti-Trump meme was off and running.
    * * *
    And this is new in what way?

    I was relatively un-political for many years, but watched the 2008 campaign because it was so different – and that’s where I discovered that the MSM pundits really were, as they say, “Democrats with bylines” — because of the wild variance in the way they treated Obama and McCain, plus the down-right hostility to Sarah Palin. They re-doubled with Romney, of course (“binders of women” is bad — R U serious??)

  25. AesopFan Says:

    AMartel Says:
    January 26th, 2017 at 4:20 pm
    It’s what they do to every Republican. Undermine, deligitimize. … You can’t let this stuff go or it just becomes part of the narrative. .. Trump and his team are doing the right thing by fighting back. Trump’s not just defending himself, he’s defending the people who voted for him.
    * * *
    An apt summary of the articles I posted in a comment on another thread, showing their intersectionality (ahem).
    http://neoneocon.com/2017/01/24/an-alternative-way-to-look-at-alternative-facts/#comment-2167494

    The articles were these:
    http://amgreatness.com/2017/01/24/what-was-sean-spicer-doing/

    http://libertyunyielding.com/2017/01/24/team-trump-communication-battlespace/

  26. Steve S Says:

    Yes, the press treats every (R) President in the most negative manner that they can – but that’s not the point. The point is that we have a press secretary who is calling it out to their face; accusing them of their blatant bias to their face. It’s at least interesting, if not refreshing. The press has been allowed to constantly pick at (R)s in a manner that they don’t pick at (D)s.

    The last time I recall such a calling out happening was in 1970 with VP Spiro Agnew’s “nattering nabobs of negativism” – and the press went nuts. Meanwhile, 46+ years of intervening, acceding silence is far too long.

  27. huxley Says:

    There is a method to Trump’s madness but I still wonder how much it is under Trump’s control and how badly he will cut himself the next time the blade turns on him.

  28. Beverly Says:

    You’re still underestimating the man.
    The proof of the pudding is in the eating. This was a man who was supposed to be the easiest one for Hagzilla to beat. It turns out he was the ONLY one who could beat her.
    In the teeth of everything the Establishment could throw at him, with all the howitzers of the media and pop “culture” firing for effect.
    This was the man who was supposed to be bullsh**ting us all about his agenda — well, guess what: he meant it, and he’s already delivering on it at warp speed.
    This is a man who has sacrificed time, money, and a tremendous amount of energy — at age 70 — because he genuinely loves America. I’ve talked to three people who know him, and they all said he’s a genuine, sentimental patriot. He’s also volunteered to stand up to all the slings, arrows, garbage, abuse, and death threats that the Venomous Left can throw at him.
    The viciousness and relentlessness of their attack isn’t because they don’t like his damn hair, people: it’s because he’s an existential threat to the Deep State.
    Thank God for Donald John Trump.

  29. Bill Says:

    In all the defenses of Spicer (and Trump) above, no one seems bothered by the fact that Spicer blatantly lied about an easily confirmed fact, at the direction of his boss. It’s not the first time and definitely won’t be the last. KAC was wrong – we don’t get to have our own alternative facts. But it has served Trump’s purposes to get the nation chattering about yet another lie, and further muddle, confuse and harden his rationalizing followers while needlessly engaging his detractors.

    Gaslighting was mentioned favorably above. It is not a good thing. Trump has such disregard for truth that making the truth seem wispy, impossible to establish, shifty, etc., though good in the short term for a man with an adversarial relationship to truth, is really, really bad for our future as a country. Abusers gaslight. Yes, he loves his country. The battered wife will argue that her husband loves her too.

    While I agree we can’t underestimate the man, some of you are already engaging in the same “he’s playing four dimensional chess” talk that Obama partisans engaged in. He is, definitely, a grand master at trolling the press, I will give him that. But hate the press all you want (and they deserve most of it), a society without a functioning press and only a weak value and grasp on the truth is a society headed for authoritarian rule.

  30. huxley Says:

    You’re still underestimating the man.
    The proof of the pudding is in the eating. This was a man who was supposed to be the easiest one for Hagzilla to beat. It turns out he was the ONLY one who could beat her.

    Beverly: Maybe. Then again, maybe you are overestimating him.

    My reading of Trump’s campaign was that he didn’t do as well as McCain or Romney even though Trump ran against a far weaker candidate in a third term election favoring the Republican. Trump squeaked by Clinton by only 78,000. IMO Trump was one more bad tweet away from losing the election.

    What you said could apply to Obama in 2008. Obama had the magic then. Obama’s supporters thought he would walk on water for eight years.

    Obama’s shtick worked until it didn’t, but he sure looked good for a while.

    These are the early days, which are easy compared to the long haul. We’ll see.

  31. huxley Says:

    Among other things, I am a chess player. Trump reminds me of Mikhail Tal, the Latvian Grandmaster who became World Champion in 1960 at the age of 23.

    Tal had a brilliant intuitive attacking style that baffled the top grandmasters of his time. He decisively defeated Mikhail Botvinnik, the formidable champion who played chess strategcially and technically, by 12 1/2 to 8 1/2 games.

    A year later Botvinnik, after analyzing Tal’s style thoroughly, defeated Tal 13 to 8 games.

    The other grandmasters caught on to Tal’s style too. Tal settled into being a respectable top grandmaster and a more well-rounded player, but he was no longer the chess wizard who could razzle-dazzle his way around his opponents.

    People will figure out Trump’s style too. His executive skills I keep hearing about had better be solid after his razzle no longer dazzles.

  32. Irene Says:

    @ huxley
    “My reading of Trump’s campaign was that he didn’t do as well as McCain or Romney even though Trump ran against a far weaker candidate in a third term election favoring the Republican.”

    Surely you jest.

  33. Irene Says:

    @Bill
    “My aversion to Donald Trump, from the beginning, was driven largely by his apparent absolute disregard for truth. I hate being lied to. Yes, most politicians spin or even lie at times. Trump seems to do it all the time.”

    Funny, I don’t remember any outright lies. Exaggerations, yes. Taunts, yes. Certainly nothing that rises, however, to an “absolute disregard for truth.” In fact, to the contrary, Trump spoke so many truths which had been ignored or suppressed for so long that I think many people couldn’t take it (and clearly still can’t, judging from what I see and read).

    What lies are you referring to that upset you so much?

  34. DNW Says:

    Neo pitches a lob

    ” … seemingly from the heart.”

    Britain connects

    “Spicer is apparently laboring under the illusion that the mass media value fairness and objectivity.

    Clearly he hasn’t really grasped that ideologues can be personable.

    Yeah. It’s that same old conservative fellowship projection syndrome. The one wherein they never grasp, either because of some intellectual deficiency or emotional reluctance and fear, the fact that the worldview, the metaphysics, the anthropology, held by the left is so radically divergent from theirs, that the progressive’s moral formation must in intellectual terms, be radically alien, when granting its own foundational premisses.

    People who are primarily emotional, may not have a problem with this, and seek a “shared human identity” in emotion, or social pressure rather than in objective fact or self-evident principle. That is what that sack of shit philosopher Rorty advocated.

    But that only works for bar-b-ques, really. The wan imperative which emotion produces is good for no more. Politics is much more serious – life and death – business. And when you conservatives are treating others as “souls” and progressives are dealing with you as social material, there’s going to be a disconnect.

    Rorty knew that, as does Dennett, but they figure public rhetoric and educational indoctrination of the hoi polloi will pacify them before they wake up or ever have a chance to act; and thus get civilization over the [their] ‘truth-of-nihilism’ hump. Kind of as with a dirty little family secret one holds back from the children: “We are not really a family you see; and ‘grandpa’ is a molesting monster; but, it’s a fiction we prefer to believe, or spout, because … love everyone or some thing …and it’s more convenient for the adults. Or some of them.”

    For a reason I cannot fathom completely but only observe, many conservatives just cannot process this moral community dynamic or the facts underlying it.

    It’s the great conservative weakness: If I may repeat myself here for the 40th time going back years now.

  35. Irv Says:

    I am just constantly amazed by the vitriol of the never/anti-Trumpers. The word “lie” is tossed around so freely and so often that I wonder is we’re listening to the same person. I’m reminded of the meme of “Bush lied; people died” that was so omnipresent during the Bush presidency. The left/media/never’Trumpers feel free to create a new definitions for words like “lie” and “torture” that never existed before. They feel free to impute a mental state of intentional deceit to statements that could easily be read in another light that would make them reasonable. Alternative facts are called lies instead of facts in the alternative. Opinions as to the extent of unknown levels of voter fraud are called intentional lies instead of facts that haven’t yet been proven either way.

    I understand the post that started this group of comments and I sympathize with it completely. The thing that gets me the most is the lack of self-awareness of the people doing these things even when it is pointed out to them.

    Instead of answering me back with examples against my point, how about if you just look at the overall picture and try to see if there’s any possibility that these small things become more important in the aggregate than they are individually. As I said in a previous post; death by a thousand cuts is still death!

  36. DNW Says:

    “Spicer is apparently laboring under the illusion that the mass media value fairness and objectivity.”

    That one comment highlights so much.

    Yes, in the progressive’s own analysis it is just part of the evolutionary camouflage which these kinds of appetite-entities deploy in order to get close enough to their targets to extract or accomplish whatever else it is that will serve their ends.

    I am sure that many here have been in business or politics and encountered an example of the absolutely, and unashamedly manipulative organizational moral void, generally referred to by others as a “the viper”.

    They are often competent, but if you ever get into a conversation with them, and they feel confident or safe enough to lay out their worldviews (perhaps they are senior of you and feel they are just stating the lay of the land, rather than self-justifying) it’s all pure nihilism and ego. Nothing else.

    You might as well be talking to a tongue-flicking serpent.

  37. CW Says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said “it humanizes him.”

    Decent people will be frustrated and demoralized by the reality of the news media and how dishonest it is, and how they really don’t get what’s wrong with that. Sean Spicer just isn’t cynical enough yet.

  38. neo-neocon Says:

    Irene:

    During the campaign I discussed many of the Trump lies that I considered most flagrant.

    There were also many websites devoted to listing them. Now, since most of those websites were very anti-Trump to begin with, not everything they listed was a lie. Some would come under the heading of “alternative facts” (for real, that is—disputed unemployment figures, for example). But some were outright lies. If you want to do your own research and decide which is which, go here, for example.

    For me, one of the worst things Trump ever said was that Cruz’s father was with Oswald before the latter killed Kennedy. This was based on a patently absurd National Enquirer story that was in turn based on a grainy photo that the paper said resembled Cruz’s father. No way did Trump believe that horse manure.

    For me, for whatever reason, the worst lie Trump told (and the most obviously a lie) was this one.

  39. neo-neocon Says:

    Bill:

    I don’t think Spicer actually lied. I explained my point of view here. His explanations made sense to me. He was mistaken about several things because he spoke quickly and the sources on which he relied were incorrect.

    And I’m still not sure how big Trump’s crowd was. The photos seem to contradict each other.

  40. Irv Says:

    I’m sorry Neo but to me that both of your examples are very minor. The Cruz story is certainly dirty politics but in a disputed and very nasty election like the last one with all of its vitriol, it’s at least understandable even if you fine it unjustifiable. And while he probably did not have hundreds of friends that died in 9/11, it really depends on your definition of friends. Is it not possible that he considers everyone he does business with a friend, in a business sense?

    I knew exactly what he meant by his statements in both cases and put them in the light of the tone of the election and found them consistent, if not acceptable. Neither of them in my mind come up to the level of calling him a serial liar.

    I’ve known many liars in my 75 years and he doesn’t even come close to most of them. What people say in the heat of an unusually nasty political campaign is to me similar to what people in the middle of a divorce or a custody hearing. The latter two are usually in sealed court records for a reason. I’m not trying to justify what is said in any of those cases but I am calling for a little contextual understanding.

    In your job you must have come across many examples of people saying things in the heat of the moment that really shouldn’t be used to evaluate their characters.

    I may be too forgiving, and that’s certainly possible, but I believe that most of his critics are too unforgiving when it comes to Trump.

  41. Irv Says:

    I’m not blind to Trump’s statements/mistakes/lies, I just evaluate them differently.

    And, sorry for the typos in the last posting. I’ll proof read better from now on.

  42. Sergey Says:

    Like Trump or loath him don’t underestimate him. He outfoxed all his enemies so far. His path to victory reminds how Gandhi described his: First they ignore you. Than they laugh at you. Than they fight you, and than you win.

  43. Oldflyer Says:

    I seem to recall being told, frequently, that Clinton’s lies didn’t matter because they were just about sex.

    So, now we are concerned that Trump (may have) lied about the size of a crowd? That Trump made over the top statements about his opponents during the campaign?

    So far he has not lied about what he intends to do as President. Unless he is found to do that; I am comfortable.

    (There was story that Ike (I love Ike) was determined to never lie to the American people; so he sent underlings to do it.)

  44. neo-neocon Says:

    Oldflyer:

    I am disturbed by the sort of egregious lies Trump told during the campaign. He is a liar. That is the truth. And he lied shamelessly, and often cruelly.

    But of course I’m more upset about lies told that have to do with policy. That doesn’t mean I’m not disturbed by other lies.

    You may or may not remember my posts about Bill Clinton (or maybe they were comments) and Lewinsky. But although I was disturbed by those lies of Bill’s, I think he should not have been impeached and that he did not even commit perjury (too long to go into here, but I’ve dealt with it in other posts or comments). I also happen to think that—unless I were married to Clinton—his lies about who he slept with are at the bottom of the list of lies I get excited about. In other words, I am less offended (as a citizen, not as a wife) by those lies than by most other lies.

    I am quite offended by the fact that Trump said he lost hundreds of friends in 9/11, when in fact he has never been able to say the name of a single friend that he lost. Read the post I linked to in my reply to Irene. He told that whopper in order to puff himself up in terms of using 9/11 in his campaign. I think it’s quite a pernicious lie, actually. Lying about affairs of state as a president is even worse, but that 9/11 lie really sticks in my craw.

  45. Bill Says:

    Funny, I don’t remember any outright lies. Exaggerations, yes. Taunts, yes. Certainly nothing that rises, however, to an “absolute disregard for truth.”

    There are lots of them – you and I may qualify them differently because you categorize “exaggerations” differently than lies.

    Many of these seem trivial, and the reason Trump is such a successful liar is because he’ll lie about almost anything, and generally to show himself in the best light. It gets kind of overwhelming after awhile. A lot of times he can hide behind the “I don’t know, I was just repeating what I heard” excuse. It gets exhausting.

    Neo mentioned the one about losing hundreds of friends on 911, and the example of the thousands of middle easterners in New Jersey celebrating on 911.

    Related to that is his mocking of a disabled reporter. It was obvious, but many of you have bought the gas lighting that he wasn’t really doing that. Have it your way.

    Before the Nevada primary he claimed that no one reads the Bible more than he does. Do you believe that?

    Can’t release his tax returns because of an audit.

    He’s being audited because he’s such a Christian. Here’s a quote.

    “Well, maybe because of the fact that I’m a strong Christian, and I feel strongly about it and maybe there’s a bias.” – for many of you this falls into the exaggeration pile, not a lie, because he said “maybe”.

    He thought that “maybe” Rafael Cruz was part of the plot to assassinate JFK. Just politics, of course.

    He was going to release his tax returns “after the election” – that was a promise. But of course he hasn’t yet and now will do it “after the audit” and then it will be after you buy that bridge in Arizona.

    Also, Mexico will pay for the wall. Trust me, some bright person in his administration will “prove” they did if he manages to get his tariff through. Even though the people who actually pay for tariffs are all of us. They will produce facts and figures, because figures don’t lie (but liars can figure). Mexico itself is not going to pay for the wall (although they, and us, are probably going to suffer from dumb protectionist policies).

    Neo, Spicer absolutely lied about the attendance at the inauguration. I don’t understand why we would excuse that. All this talk about it being harder to get onto the mall now or what day of the week it was or whatever doesn’t take away from the fact that he unequivocally stated that it was the biggest audience ever, period. He didn’t have to do that, unless maybe he did. It was a dumb lie. Lots of Trump’s lies are. If they didn’t have all the information they could have just not said anything, enjoyed a great inauguration day, and gotten to the people’s business…

    Regarding Obama. Trump spread the birther lies for years based upon expert informants he had. But that was OK because you didn’t like Obama. (I didn’t either, but still think it was low-class)

    Some things are just bizarre – the way Trump posed as his own spokesman “John Barron” back in the 80s and 90s.

    He claims with a straight face that he really won the popular vote, that 3 to 5 MILLION votes were cast illegally and that they all went against him. Some of you, of course, believe this. When it’s disproved (if that’s possible), you might still believe it. I don’t. Many in his own party have stated they don’t believe it. The burden of proof is on Trump, though.

    He’s claimed both to have made friends with Putin in the past and also to never having met Putin and not knowing him.

    He’s claimed, unequivocally, that he has no ties to Russia at all. His son in law has claimed the opposite, previously.

    Remember at that campaign event when he had props out of Trump steaks, Trump vodka, etc – business that had already gone out of business.

    The avalanch of baloney-sausage is exhausting…

    Trump claimed this week that his Keystone pipeline EO will create “28,000” jobs. That number is quite a bit higher than what’s possible, by over 10,000. Another exaggeration. Ever known someone who exaggerates all the time, and always to benefit themselves? Do you trust them? I’ve been for the Keystone, by the way.

    He claimed the ICE agents and border patrol officer unions “unanimously” endorsed him. They didn’t (he got a large percentage, but not unanimous).

    He himself and his spokespeople have often repeated the lie that his electoral college victory was a “landslide. It was actually on the narrow side of the spectrum, 46th lowest out of 58. It was still a really historic win, so why the lie?

    He’s lied about the Philadelphia murder rate, that it is “terribly increasing”. It’s actually down over the past decade. In this case, as in a lot of other cases, I actually believe he believes what he’s saying. He just doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. That’s not very comforting to me.

    This isn’t an exhaustive list. I realize that if you support what he’s promised to do, and what he’s putting in motion, this isn’t going to sway you. And I know how the team sport of politics works.

    For my part, though, I’m not going to pretend he’s an honest person. He isn’t.

    Character is destiny.

  46. Irv Says:

    Oldflyer – You assume that because he hasn’t said the name of a single friend then there can’t be any and therefore he’s lying. That’s pretty thin evidence for anyone except someone who’s already made up his mind. It kind of reminds me of how the media/left judges all conservatives. Credibility is hard to regain once it is frittered away.

  47. huxley Says:

    The thing that gets me the most is the lack of self-awareness of the people doing these things even when it is pointed out to them.

    Instead of answering me back with examples against my point, how about if you just look at the overall picture and try to see if there’s any possibility that these small things become more important in the aggregate than they are individually.

    Irv: How about you meeting us Trump-skeptics on an equal playing field without demands we see things on your terms and without meta-comment on what you believe our psychology and emotional states to be?

  48. Big Maq Says:

    @Bill – welcome back.

    We are seeing a continuation of what you and I “spoke” about in comments some months ago.

    People are selecting their own truths.

    All this support for trump without any concern for the downside is remindful of the support obama received.

    For many, obama could do no wrong. To this day, several declare that he had the fewest (or even zero!) controversies of any recent president.
    .

    On his taxes, Bill, you might have missed it… KAConway let us know that, since voters elected him, they really don’t care about it (rather circular logic, but his supporters may well buy that explanation).

    trump has no intention of releasing his returns, and probably never did. Just one more lie on the pile.
    .

    I too see all this gaslighting as a destructive escalation, and likely to put all in a place nobody wants, despite the cheers a minority feel for it all.

    Many who are sitting on the sidelines giving trump a chance (remember many would be GOP voters stayed home – based on trumps lower percentage of eligible voters than even Romney) may well lose patience with the daily drama, distraction, and uncertainty.

    Who knows what happens politically then, but it cannot be good.

    He’s got the rest of the 100 days, we’ll see.

  49. LordAzrael Says:

    “Alternate facts” makes better sense when you argue that most of what are claimed as facts are in reality assertions, rather than objective facts. Unfortunately by retaining the use of the word “fact” she played into their hands that their claims were facts, when they were not facts in any real sense of the word.

  50. Bill Says:

    Big Maq

    Nice to be back. After the election I figured there wasn’t much sense in talking about what might be. Figured I’d wait and see.

    Interesting. One of the big selling points of all the “reluctant” Trump voters was that now, finally, the press would keep a president accountable.

    Now that he’s president and in a full fledged war with the press, Trump supporters are cheering on the alternate facts of KAC and Bannon’s “keep your mouths shut” message to the press.

  51. The Other Chuck Says:

    It’s not wrong to suspend judgement, temporarily. Most of us who know what Trump is, a liar first and foremost, but also a con artist supreme, are willing to give the new administration a chance. Maybe he will rise to the office. Or perhaps it will only enhance his terrible traits and inflate an already over inflated ego. My bet is on the latter. As Neo says, we’ll see.

  52. Bill Says:

    “Alternate facts” makes better sense when you argue that most of what are claimed as facts are in reality assertions, rather than objective facts.

    Yes, often the case. But in this case we are looking at hard, rectangular facts. Trump started it by making a claim – most attended (or viewed, if you want to be charitable) inauguration in history. Spicer doubled down.

    This isn’t hard to disprove. But we now live in a world where “the President believes this to be true” actually works for a lot of people to establish truth.

    Truth gets muddled when politics becomes a team sport. Because in sports the win is all that matters.

  53. Big Maq Says:

    “Truth gets muddled when politics becomes a team sport. Because in sports the win is all that matters.” – Bill

    Right. And it can easily devolve.

    When there is no objective fact, as many are so willing to overlook the lies and “alternative facts” on their own side, then it opens the door to much worse.

    It is one thing to fight the msm’s bias (and, not everything they say is false), it is quite another with what is happening now.

    This it NOT a fight on what is “true”. It is a fight on who’s “truth” dominates. Not sure how far it will go as it escalates, but it is undoubtedly not going in a good direction.

    “Reality is in the human mind, not in the individual mind”

    RIP John Hurt…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJz77y4d_JA

  54. Big Maq Says:

    For Star Trek fans…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kmG7KXxShM

  55. AesopFan Says:

    This is the only crowd size I care much about.

    http://i0.wp.com/www.powerlineblog.com/ed-assets/2017/01/Hillarys-IUnaugural.jpeg

  56. AesopFan Says:

    And I believe a lot of the normal conservative reaction to lies from authority is being diffused by the previous actions of the press, to wit:

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2017/01/press-alert.php

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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