Last night on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Show, President Trump’s former press secretary Sean Spicer confirmed the truth behind a joke that dates back to the 1930s.
“How can you tell when a politician is lying,” goes the set up to the old joke. The answer: “His lips are moving.”
Spicer was responding to a question from Kimmel on why, on his very first day as White House spokesman, he said during a televised press briefing that the inaugural crowd had been the biggest ever, and was bigger than any for President Obama.
It was a lie and the press had anecdotal and visual evidence that it was false, but Spicer stood continued to deliver the party line.
“That’s what you sign up to do,” Spicer explained to Kimmel, adding: “Even if you know the crowd wasn’t bigger, you have to go – as press secretary, you have to say that it was.”
Kimmel seemed stunned by that admission and pushed for clarification.
“Look,” responded Spicer, “your job as press secretary is to represent the president’s voice and to make sure that you are articulating what he believes, (what) his vision is on policy, on issues and on other areas he wants to articulate. Whether or not you agree or not isn’t your job.”
“What Spicer is saying here,” reports the Washington Post, “is that he believes his job was not merely to defend political decisions with which he disagreed but to make false statements if asked to do so by the president.”
Spicer said that he and others in the White House would have preferred to discuss issues related to the agenda Trump had laid out in his inaugural address.
“But he’s president,” added Spicer. “He made a decision.”
Spicer explained that Trump “wanted to make sure the record got set straight,” and was upset because he thought by claiming his audience was smaller they were undermining the validity of his controversial election and didn’t want him to have credit for his victory.
Kimmel pointed out there was a difference between crowd size and the electoral victory.
“So if you have to go along, even if you know – and I’m not asking you to say whether it was or not – even if you know the crowd wasn’t bigger, you have to do, as press secretary, you have to say it was?”
After more banter, Spicer made his key point again: “As I said, he’s the president. He decides.”
“I understand,” said Kimmel.
“And that’s what you sign up to do,” added Spicer.
At least that is what a slimy, corrupt, spineless publicist signs up to do.
That is what it takes, apparently, to be Trump’s spokesperson, as Sarah Huckabee Sanders and others now continue to do in the wake of Spicer’s departure.
The job is not to just be a spokesman, Spicer is saying, but to be a shill for a delusional chief executive who can’t take any criticism and wants to live in a bubble where everything he does is praise worthy.
That might work in a small company with products that sell themselves, but for a president to take that attitude is a disaster for the country, because he is not dealing with facts and evidence, but only in his own ego-fantastic version of reality.
That explains how Trump can go to Texas and Florida and boast about the size of the crowds that greet him without any shame for his denial that there is a global climate crisis which is producing the worst hurricane season in history.
That explains how Trump can repeatedly claim Mexico will pay for his border wall when it is clear the country of Mexico will never pay for his “great big beautiful wall,” as the delusional president has called it.
So “Spicy” has moved on but the big lies continue, as other publicists take his place at the podium and prove every day that the old joke is still true. If their lips are moving, they are lying, and they are doing so on the direct orders of a president who lies for a living.
It is a sad situation that distorts every decision the president makes and creates frightening scenarios in which bad choices are made for the wrong reasons, all to serve the inflated ego of a not very bright rich man- who just happens to have his finger on the nuclear trigger.