Sean Spicer is my favorite member of the Trump administration. He is about 5 years older than I am, so I kind of relate to him generationally. Also, his wife sells beer, sort of.
But the real reason that Spicer is my favorite member of Trump's team is that we both toil in language as our primary means of livelihood. There's just one thing about that, though. Spicer is terrible with words.
Watching Spicer destroy English is like watching The Drunkest Guy Ever trying to buy beer:
You know that poor bastard can do better than that. But you just sit there shaking your head wishing you'd seen it in person. Here's the linguistic version of that, brought to you by Sean Spicer's word hole-- and keep in mind Spicer has graduated from an accredited university. Twice! He's also been a Congressional Committee communications director, co-founded a PR firm, and directed the RNC communications. He is a word guy. Like me. Actually, hopefully not like me. Enjoy:
There's only one reason Spicer makes these mistakes.
Yes, it looks like he can't read because so many gaffes are, in fact, when he's reading. The irony, of course, is that he reads to be accurate, and that's when he makes many mistakes.
And of course he stumbles a lot when he's trying to fix an egregious error that he just noticed his mouth make. "Holocaust centers" exemplifies this.
No, Spicer stumbles because he's nervous. It's that simple. I've seen intelligent people give hundreds of speeches in my years as an English and ESL teacher on topics that they know, love and understand, but still screw up in the same ways, with pronunciation. They do this because they are nervous for some reason. And nervousness is not the reason why most screw up.
Bush screwed up with grammar because he got in over his head. He was used to talking to shit-kicking farmer types.
Clinton screwed up by having the arrogance to hold--during his grand jury testionial, of course--a semantics lesson on the be verb.
A mélange of narcissism and hubris got Nixon:
Of course, these were presidents and Spicer is not, nor ever would be. But back to his gaffes. They are the mistakes of the nervous. So what is he nervous about?
I have a few hypotheses. First off, he could be nervous because he's receiving his talking points at the last minute and is, therefore, ill prepared to speak. This administration is filled with amateurs, who are only getting lucky because the GOP congress is so happy to not have Obama, and therefore is falling in lockstep with the exception of the Freedom Caucus not wanting enough people to die in the first attempt at "Repeal and Replace". When the new adminsitration came through the White House for the first time, Jared Kushner, you know, the smart one in the group, asked how many Obama-era employees were staying on only to find out that none were. That's how things work and a guy in his poisition, out to to know that. Also, there are still hundreds of positions the administration has yet to fill, even over 100 days into his regime, being labeled a "Deep State". It's amateur hour in Trump's White House and Spicer is the voice of the mess.
Alternatively, he could be intimidated by being in a room filled with smart people who know they're being fed a line of bullshit by a guy and an administration that have disdain for their very profession.
An alternate hypothesis, and the most hopeful one, is that Spicer is nervous because he doesn't like being dishonest, which he clearly and often is. Let's hope this is the reason he can't speak. Guilt.
UPDATE: 5/31/2017 Poor Spicey. He is now selling whatever the president wants him to no matter who--everyone--thinks he's full of shit. This is truly sad.