C'mon, why didn't Trump let Spicer meet the Pope?

A few days old and not a big deal, but still bothersome. The guy’s a devout Catholic. Top Catholic staffers in previous administrations routinely were included in the delegation during trips to the Vatican. The White House’s only excuse in excluding Spicer was that this year’s delegation was “small,” as though there would have been an insuperable issue with adding one more person who happens to be the president’s official spokesman. To top it off, Spicer has been scapegoated not just by Trump but by aides like Jared Kushner for the messaging chaos created by the president himself. He’s been undercut publicly by would-be successors and humiliated in ways big and small, most recently with news leaking before Trump’s trip began that his role as press secretary would be scaled back once they return to the U.S. Trump could have made it up to him, at least a little, by letting him meet the Pope.


But no. Not even this.

It’s as if, in “Willy Wonka,” Charlie and his grandpa got the golden ticket, showed up at the mansion for their tour, and then Wonka tore it up in their faces and sent them back to their lives of grinding poverty. All they wanted was one hour of happiness.

Spicer fumed to colleagues after being excluded from the President’s meeting with Pope Francis, an administration official told CNN on Thursday. He was eagerly anticipating meeting the Pope, but discovered at the last minute that he was not on the shortlist of White House officials selected to join the President for the private audience.

Spicer assumed he would be on the list, the official said, adding that meeting the Pope was one of the bucket list items Spicer, a Catholic, wanted to check off during his tenure as press secretary…

Asked about Spicer not being included in the group that met the Pope, a source close to the White House said: “Wow. That’s all he wanted,” adding it should “very much” be seen as a slight

[P]revious administration officials who helped orchestrate meetings between US presidents and the Pope said that high-level Catholic staffers who expressed interest in attending the papal sessions were regularly accommodated. During his two equivalent sessions at the Vatican with Francis and his predecessor Pope Benedict, President Barack Obama was joined by his press secretaries, Jay Carney and Robert Gibbs, along with senior-level national security and West Wing aides.


Among those who made the cut: Keith Schiller, Trump’s former bodyguard; Dan Scavino, his social-media director; and Hope Hicks, his campaign spokesman whose comms job in the White House is much, much less visible than Spicer’s. All three of them are old-school Trump cronies, though, whereas Spicer was a transplant from the RNC. So Spicer got frozen out. Even the reporters he yells at every day feel bad for him:

Thrush’s colleague Maggie Haberman also tweeted about the snub. “This seems needlessly harsh — when else is Spicer likely to meet the Pope, and it mattered to him?” the Times White House correspondent said.

“Trump is a cruel boss,” said New Republic senior editor Jeet Heer, who said the president “didn’t let Sean Spicer meet the Pope out of sheer meanness.”…

Mark Preston, a senior political analyst for CNN who attends church in the same parish as Spicer, told Burnett that “I’m sure is really hurting him,” and suggested Spicer’s exclusion reflected the president’s “pettiness.” Preston said of Spicer’s job: “There are very few perks; there are very long days. For something like this to happen to Sean Spicer I think really is an indictment against Donald Trump and again in his lack of loyalty.”

Burnett wrapped up the segment with this: “If Donald Trump indeed plans to remove him, go ahead and get rid of him. But he’s done a lot for you. This deeply mattered to him. I just think on a human level it was clear what the right thing to do was.”


What’s the innocent, non-deliberate-snub explanation? Assume Trump didn’t know Spicer was Catholic or didn’t understand at first how significant it would be for a Catholic staffer to meet the Pope. Spicer surely ended up bringing it to his or the advance team’s attention once he found out he wasn’t on the list. Yet he stayed off the list. How come? What’s it going to take for this guy to decide he can stand no more and quit?

Here’s Mike Pence at Annapolis today talking about character ‘n stuff.

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