Though some jaws dropped, many laughed, and former White House press secretary was applauded for having a "sense of humor" about the work he did for President Donald Trump, there should be nothing suprising about Sean Spicer's on-stage appearance at Sunday night's Emmy Awards.
And so while some jeered the Emmy's producers for trying to make a cheap joke or "normalize" Spicer, it was clear that many didn't find the gag particularly funny.
I'm not ready to laugh "with" Sean Spicer. I think he is an evil, opportunistic liar that hurt our country.
— Zach Braff (@zachbraff) September 18, 2017
But taking the criticism a step further, journalist Glenn Greenwald makes the point, in a post at The Intercept Monday morning, that there is nothing shocking—and much that's very predictable—about a man like Spicer being welcomed into the circles of the elite.
Noting the mix of "shock and indignation" his appearance generated, Greenwald argues there "should be nothing whatsoever surprising about any of this, as it is the logical and necessary outcome of the self-serving template of immunity which DC elites have erected for themselves." He continues:
The Bush administration was filled with high-level officials who did not just lie from podiums but did so in service of actual war crimes. They invaded and destroyed a country of 26 million people based on blatant falsehoods and relentless propaganda. They instituted a worldwide torture regime by issuing decrees that purported to re-define what that term meant. They spied on the communications of American citizens without the warrants required by law. They kidnapped innocent people from foreign soil and sent them to be tortured in the dungeons of the world's worst regimes, and rounded up Muslims on domestic soil with no charges. They imprisoned Muslim journalists for years without a whiff of due process. And they generally embraced and implemented the fundamental tenets of authoritarianism by explicitly positioning the President and his White House as above the law.
We're supposed to all forget about that, or at least agree to minimize it, in service of this revisionist conceit that the United States has long been governed by noble, honorable and decent people until Donald Trump defaced the sanctity of the Oval Office with his band of gauche miscreants and evil clowns. Many of the same people who, just a decade ago, were depicting Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and Paul Wolfowitz – remember them? – as monsters of historic proportions are today propagating the mythology that Trump is desecrating what had always been sacred and benevolent American civic space.
Not only were all Bush officials fully immunized from the legal consequences of their crimes – in DC, that’s a given – but they were also fully welcomed back into decent elite society with breakneck speed, lavished with honors, rewards, lucrative jobs and praise. Those same Bush officials responsible for the most horrific crimes are now beloved by many of the same circles which, today, are expressing such righteous rage that Sean Spicer is allowed onto the Emmy stage and a classroom at Harvard.
And Christian Christensen, journalism professor at Stockholm University and a frequent Common Dreams contributor, put it this way:
"How did we get a leader like Trump???" wonders entertainment industry that invites Spicer to joke about himself shitting on the US. #Emmys
— ChristianChristensen (@ChrChristensen) September 18, 2017
And so while George W. Bush, as Greenwald noted in his column, has appeared with smiles on Ellen Degeneres' daytime show and high-level people who served under him, including press secretary Ari Fleischer and speechwriter, are now embraced by mainstream news outlets and polite members of "liberal" society, there's little that should be shocking when Spicer drives out on the Emmy's stage in a motorized podium.
"If you're someone who employs David Frum or hires Ari Fleischer or treats Bush-era war criminals as respectable and honored sources," concludes Greenwald, "you really have no standing to object to the paradigm that has ushered Spicer into the halls of elite power. This is the precedent of elite immunity that has been created, often by the same people who are now so upset that Sean Spicer and his fellow Trump functionaries are the beneficiaries of the framework they helped to install."