Nostalgia is a funny thing. Because it tends to work only in relative values—i.e., “then” was better than “now,” so “then” must automatically be good—it can do a lot of work to shave the more craptastic edges off of a person or a moment, even if they were, from an objective point of view, trash.
Take former White House spokesperson Sean Spicer. For a variety of reasons—his general incompetence; bizarre quirks like his tendency to swallow multiple packs of gum a day, or his social media war with the Dippin’ Dots corporation; the fact that he presided over an early era of the Trump administration that had yet to fully decouple itself from the concept of shame—Spicer can sometimes look, from a squinting distance, like a more fun, less terrible person than his successors, a Charlie Brown figure in a White House full of Lucys. (It doesn’t hurt that, unlike lab grown press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, he never seemed to master the ur-Trump-ian trick of truly not caring that the shit he was spouting was all such an obvious pack of lies.)
But Sean Spicer was not, and is not, a good dude. Even if you gloss past the stuff like that time he talked himself around to praising Adolf Hitler for his sense of restraint, re: gassing people (and you really shouldn’t), there’s still the fact that he sold himself, body and soul, to promoting and supporting Trump’s vision of America, the same vision that has now produced rising waves of hatred, xenophobia, anti-journalist behavior, and daily civil rights abuses. Like many establishment Republican figures, Spicer apparently thought he could harness Trump, failing to learn the lesson of so many Blob movies: You can’t harness slime.
Very little of which, we have to assume, was in the minds of ABC’s Dancing With The Stars producers, who announced today that they had successfully recruited Spicer to doughily cut a rug on their upcoming season of shows. (They actually tried to get him right after he resigned in 2017, but some sense of rapidly dwindling decorum presumably won out.) Spicer will dance alongside the likes of Queer Eye’s Karamo Brown, Kel Mitchell, James Van Der Beek, and Christie Brinkley, none of whom, as far as we know, also worked to sanitize Trump’s hateful rhetoric or attempts to ban people from Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. But, hey: Ratings!
The news didn’t go without comment from the show’s production team, though; host Tom Bergeron issued a statement today, expressing his obvious discontent at Spicer’s casting on the series’ 28th season. Bergeron’s take is that there shouldn’t be any political figures on Dancing, a show designed by scientists to make as many people smile as mildly as humanly possible for the longest possible period of time. (An agree-to-disagree “call for civility” point of view that also, weirdly, feels like an unwanted and unwelcome refugee from the distant era of 2017.)
Spicer’s been trying to break into the media for a while now; he previously filmed a pilot for a talk show, which was rightly rejected by everyone it was presented to. He’ll reportedly make six figures for his appearance on Stars.