Of all the hilarious moments to emerge from the Trump administration, my favorite is the briefing-in-the-bushes. Press Secretary Sean Spicer was being peppered with questions about the sudden firing of FBI Director James Comey, and for some unfathomable reason, he scooted to a dark spot between the hedges outside the White House. There, Spicer insisted no one turn on lights or cameras, and then he fielded questions like a murky character in a low-rent spy movie.
The internet exploded. Some folks posted GIFs of Spicer as Homer Simpson melting into the shrubbery. A woman in Canada offered a DIY cutout of his head for fans to mount in their own landscaping. And of course, “Saturday Night Live” in their weekly lampoon of Team Trump included a devastating impression of “Spicey” peering through the foliage.
Spicer is not happy about all this. I understand. It’s no fun being ridiculed (as I learned in junior high gym class) and since day one, Spicer has been – aside from the president – the prime target for pundits over the occasionally eyebrow-raising activities on Pennsylvania Avenue. And why not? He’s defended presidential statements that have run the gamut from contradictory to inflammatory to just plain absurd. He’s dodged questions as if he’s intent on hiding information as much as sharing it – although, to be sure, any press secretary could be nailed for that. And in the process, Spicer has frequently been combative, obtuse and dismissive.
Facing the scowling press, he’s tried to laugh it off now and then like we’re all pals. But that will be harder now with DC bookies taking bets on how soon he’ll be fired. I don’t know if the smart money is on him getting a pink slip, but I tend to think it is, and sooner rather than later.
Simple reason: The “messaging” around the Comey dismissal was badly botched. It made the action look ill-planned, rash and perhaps underhanded. But presidents don’t take falls for things like that; their underlings do. And while scapegoats don’t just fall from trees, sometimes you can find them in the bushes.