Sean Spicer had big plans, and why shouldn’t he? Obama’s last press secretary is now a VP at United. Jay Carney is a senior executive at Amazon. Robert Gibbs is an exec at McDonalds. And none of them were ever onstage at the Emmys. But alas, Spicer’s used soul had barely hit the market when hard realities set in.
A Harvard fellowship is supposed to be a victory lap, a resume-cleansing exercise in adulation pinned between a low-wage, high-profile government job and the far more lucrative gigs that follow. Not so for Spicer. He was roasted by Harvard students even while the administration kept his lectures “off the record.” Having finished his ivy league stint without a job offer, he was counting on his semi-literate memoir to kickstart his career. It flopped. A BBC interview promoting his book gave Spicer a taste of what awaits all of the Vichy Republicans who’ve collaborated with this regime. Skipping past the fluff, the interviewer got right to the point, “You have corrupted discourse for the entire world by going along with these lies.”
Unable to find a real job and not making a living as an author, Spicer now holds a token position with the America First PAC, a pro-Trump dark money slush fund. Apart from the loyalty checks he receives from America First to keep his mouth shut, Spicer is struggling to launch a consulting gig, currently supporting a single employee. He should be grateful. At least he hasn’t been indicted. Yet.
A Brookings staffer put it delicately when she explained that “You’re not seeing ‘home run’ jobs” for former Trump staffers. Prominent #NeverTrump Republican, Rick Wilson, described it more succinctly with the title of his book: Everything Trump Touches Dies. It’s a phenomenon driven in part by the black hole of narcissism at the center of Trumplandia. However, Trump’s public reputation and corrupt practices aren’t entirely to blame for the failures of his flunkies. Contributing to this dynamic is the simple fact that Trump hires people who suck. These are terrible people who aren’t good at doing things.
Child-model and Trump favorite, Hope Hicks, announced her resignation as White House Communications Director the day after her closed-door testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in February. After six months of fruitless job search, Trump got her nominally installed in Bill Shine’s old position at Fox News. She will presumably remain there, doing whatever it is she does all day, as long as Trump retains his influence, or until she gets indicted for her role in covering up the Trump-Russia collusion. So far, she seems to be the only Trump staffer to succeed in failing up from their administration stint, though the looming prospect of prison may dampen that record.
When Valerie Jarrett left her position at Director of the White House’s Public Liaison Office, she took a seat on the board of Lyft, the Kennedy Center, and several other corporations while also assuming a fellowship at the University of Chicago Law School. When George Sifakis left the same position in the Trump Administration, he eventually landed a job as “CEO” of his wife’s event-hosting company. The company’s press release omitted any direct mention of his ties to the regime.
How much of the difference in these outcomes results from the taint of the Trump administration and how much of it comes down to Sifakis’ lack of marketable experience or talent? To a large extent the two factors are the same. What credible figure is going to ruin their reputation by collaborating with this regime? The Trump White House, like the Trump businesses, is a hive of hustlers, half-wits, crooks and failures. These are people who held meetings in the dark because they couldn’t operate fancy light switches, people who are constantly recording each other, scrambling to assemble enough material for their “tell-all books. The most sympathetic figures in this administration are its rich collection of clueless mediocrities. Do you want these people working with you?
In France after World War II, practically everyone had been a member of the Resistance. In a few years, everyone will have been a NeverTrumper. No one with any shred of self-respect or dignity will publicly admit to have supported this regime. Those whose collaboration was limited to the voting booth will be able to hide. People who merely defended Trump on Facebook will be able to delete their posts. Dumb comments over Thanksgiving Dinner or beers at the bar will fade into the ether, politely forgotten by those who heard them. But the ambitious losers who actually worked in the administration will be deploying some mad resume skills to paper over this hole in their resume.
There’s a stench attached to a used soul that wafts out beyond the immediate environment, through the tendrils of the interwebs all the way to LinkedIn. When you sell your soul, you better get a good deal because the second-hand market is brutal.