Who is Sarah Huckabee Sanders? What is the meaning of life? What happens when you shine a flashlight while traveling at the speed of light? Though all these questions are equally perplexing, I will attempt to answer the first one.
Sanders is the current White House Press Secretary who took over for Sean Spicer after he “resigned” earlier this year. So, while Spicer is currently on Harvard’s payroll (I wonder how much Harvard pays disgraced political operatives), Sanders is in the everyday press battlefield.
Sanders is also the daughter of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (not Bernie Sanders, unfortunately). She even managed her father’s 2016 campaign for president, which was clearly widely successful. He earned 50,000 votes in the Republican Primary — behind only Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul and Chris Christie in total votes.
Unlike Spicer and Reince Priebus — who defend Trump, but make sure to maintain loyalty to traditional Republicanism — Sanders is a full-throated Trump supporter. She doesn’t need to raise her voice — like Spicer did — in order to defend one of Trump’s racist/sexist/untrue statements. Instead, Sanders opts to the “disbelief” technique, portraying that press as biased and cruel.
“I’ve never been attacked more, questioned more. I was called a liar by a major network in an official statement, I’ve been called outrageous things on air, and it goes unquestioned, no pushback,” Sanders said during a panel convened by George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs.
I wonder why someone would call Sanders a liar. It’s not like she has ever said anything untrue to the American people. Right?
The most brazen “Sanders defense” occurred recently when she actually invoked authoritarianism. She claimed that White House Chief of Staff, former General John Kelly, shall not be questioned. In her defense, I don’t know if she received the “recent” memorandum that the United States doesn’t have a military dictatorship, or that Kelly is a private citizen.
Sanders might subscribe to a Machiavellian outlook — where the ends justify the means. That would explain why she endlessly defends a president who doesn’t understand why the United States has nuclear weapons and whose own secretary of state most likely called him a “moron” — wait, no — a “f***ing moron.”
Another stark possibility is that Sanders truly is a Trump supporter. She believes there is a concerted effort by the mainstream media — also known as reputable news sources — to attack the Trump presidency and prevent him from being successful in any way.
My guess is that the truth lies somewhere in between. Most of her defenses of President Trump have the façade of a rational defense, but are easily vulnerable to criticism.
For instance, Sanders claims the questions that the White House Press Corps asks her are inherently biased, even through the reporters’ tones. “It’s not even the nature of the question, it’s the way a question is asked,” Sanders said. “So often I feel like certainly the question always comes from place of accusation instead of actually asking, looking for information. It’s more like, ‘You’re a horrible person, please tell us why.’”
But as Erik Wemple points out in the Washington Post:
“Such complaints have an all-too-easy rebuttal, one that can be mustered by looking at the list of people and institutions that Trump has insulted on Twitter. Hint: A good number of them are media outlets and reporters. Think about this: The woman who’s complaining about tone works for the fellow who called media outlets ‘the enemy of the American people.’”
I don’t know if we’ll ever find out what Sanders truly believes; for now, she is simply a more graceful mouthpiece for President Trump. That means one thing: Take whatever she says with a bucket of salt.