Yesterday we saw the Press Secretary take Amateur Hour to a new high. Past recipients of the Amateur Hour award include Kellyanne Conway, President Trump, and Presidential Aide Stephen Miller. We can now add Sean Spicer to that list.
The full transcript of the briefing is here. In the course of his press conference he was asked what made President Trump think he can get President Putin to pull back his support for President Assad. Mr. Spicer responded:
I think a couple things. You look — we didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II. You had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons. So you have to, if you’re Russia, ask yourself is this a country that you and a regime that you want to align yourself with? You have previously signed on to international agreements rightfully acknowledging that the use of chemical weapons should be out of bounds by every country. To not stand up to not only Assad, but your own word, should be troubling. Russia put their name on the line. So it’s not a question of how long that alliance has lasted, but at what point do they recognize that they are now getting on the wrong side of history in a really bad way really quickly. And again, look at the countries that are standing with them: Iran, Syria, North Korea. This is not a team you want to be on. And I think that Russia has to recognize that while they may have had an alliance with them, that the lines that have been crossed are ones that no country should ever want to see another country cross. (italics mine)
Later in the briefing he was asked to clarify his remarks on how Hitler did not sink the level of using chemical weapons. Here is his response:
I think when you come to sarin gas, there was no — he was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing, I mean, there was clearly — I understand your point, thank you. Thank you, I appreciate that. There was not — he brought them into the Holocaust center, 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. It was brought — so the use of it — I appreciate the clarification there. That was not the intent
In fairness he later apologized and recognized that he violated the First Rule of Politics: Never compare anything to Hitler.
And while I accept his apology, I’m more troubled by his clarification that his original statement. We all know that millions of Jews (and others) were gassed by Zyklon B, a chemical weapon. And I can understand how, in the heat of the moment, he forgot about that. But when asked to clarify (and when he could have easily admitted he was mistaken), he spoke about how President Assad’s crime was more serious than Hitler’s because Hitler didn’t use it on “his own people” and that Assad “dropped them down to innocent, in the middle of towns.”
Whether he intended it or not, Mr. Spicer claimed that Jews and others in the concentration camps (or the Holocaust center) were not “his own people.” This plays exactly into Hitler’s claim the Jews were not “our people” but outsiders.
Welcome to the Amateur Hour club.