Trump press secretary Sean Spicer’s current job is explaining why, after years of arguing that the U.S. should not attack Syria, Donald Trump impulsively decided last week to shoot missiles at Syria. One of Spicer’s angles on this is that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s ghastly recent gas attack against his own citizens was an unprecedentedly inhumane act. (Unfortunately, it wasn’t.) In making that point at Tuesday’s press briefing, Spicer reached for a historical analogy. It didn't go well:
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 [Syria] a country and a regime that you want to align yourself with?
As you may recall from the phrase “gas chamber,” Hitler did in fact use chemicals—gas, even—to kill people during World War II. Later in the press briefing, Spicer attempted to acknowledge this, only to make things much worse:
I think when you come to Sarin gas—there was no, [Hitler] was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing. I mean, there was clearly—there was not—in the, he brought them into the Holocaust centers, I understand that—but I'm saying in the way Assad used them, where he went into towns, dropped them down, to innocent—into the middle of towns.
- The many German victims of the Holocaust were, of course, Hitler’s “own people.”
- Apparently the distinction he’s actually going to argue he was trying to make here is that Hitler never used chemical weapons outdoors?
- Holocaust centers??????
Not a good day for Sean out there. Not a good day.
Update, 3:15 p.m.: Spicer somehow put his foot in his mouth a third time by issuing a statement that implied Holocaust victims were not "innocent people."
He then corrected the error:
Fourth time's the charm.