Just when you think that White House Press Secretary and Communications Director Sean Spicer simply can't make a situation any worse for himself, he goes and does exactly that. In an effort to deflect attention from his incorrect comment about Hitler today, Spicer claimed Trump was trying to "destabilize the region," and that's why he bombed Syria. If that sounds a bit off to you, don't worry — you're not alone.
It all started, of course, when Spicer said that Hitler didn't use chemical weapons. He then had to backtrack on that statement, releasing an statement of apology on Twitter and also apologizing in an interview with Wolf Blitzer. It might have been prudent, however, to cut off that interview after the apology, because then he went on to say something that sounded like he was implying that the president was working to destabilize the Middle East.
"I came out to make sure we stay focused on what the president is doing and his decisive action. I needed to make sure that I clarified, and not was in any shape or form any more of a distraction from the president's decisive action in Syria and the attempts that he is making to destabilize the region and root out ISIS out of Syria," Spicer said to Blitzer on CNN.
Wow: While apologizing for Hitler gaffe, Spicer literally says he doesn't want to distract from Trump's attempts "to destabilize the region" pic.twitter.com/jlCwC93Wn4— Tommy Christopher (@tommyxtopher) April 11, 2017
I'm going to be honest. When I first heard it, I understood it as him mispronouncing the word "regime," because attempting to destabilize the Assad regime is at least a policy position that could make sense, whether or not you agree with it. But unfortunately, that was not what he said, and in fact he's said things about destabilizing the region before.
To be fair, Spicer did immediately go on to clarify that the administration's main priority is to "bring stability" to the region and get rid of ISIS. But no matter what he actually did mean — which is still a bit unclear, as has become usual with Spicer — this seems like it could be indicative of any number of problems. Maybe the administration simply isn't keeping Spicer fully abreast of their stances on the issues, which would be a sign of deep incompetence. Maybe Spicer doesn't really understand the positions and actions that he's trying to defend to the press. This would actually make some sense, given how many times Trump's public stance on Syria and Assad has changed (that's five times in two weeks, just in case you haven't been keeping count).
But maybe, as is so often the case, the real explanation is the simplest one. Maybe Spicer just has a tendency to make gaffes. He misspeaks a lot. It's completely human, and completely understandable. But when your job is White House Press Secretary, it's a problem.