This feels like a palate cleanser but it isn’t one really. It’s political news! There are bona fide liberal tears involved.
You probably know that Sean Spicer is on “Dancing With the Stars” this season. That in itself was problematic for lefties: Trump alums are supposed to be shunned by polite society after leaving the administration, especially those who were mouthpieces for obvious presidential lies. Spicer’s stint in the White House was brief, though, and his public image was more hapless than sinister so ABC deemed him fit to compete on DWTS.
You may or may not also know that the judging on that show features an audience participation component. Get enough votes from the public for your performance and you can overcome low marks from the pros to advance in the competition.
You see where this is going.
Whether purposely or absentmindedly, ABC left the audience participation feature intact this season even though a highly politically polarizing figure had joined the cast. Maybe executives figured that giving viewers a say in judging Spicer wouldn’t matter. It’s not like he’s some beloved figure among America’s MAGA-ites, after all. He might get a few extra votes from Trump fans for political reasons but certainly not enough to offset the fact that he dances like a manatee.
What ABC wasn’t counting on was that someone who is notably beloved on the right might weigh in on Spicer’s behalf:
I can imagine that scenario coming up at a producers’ meeting before the season and being dismissed as preposterous:
“We’re letting the audience vote? But what if Trump tweets something to stir up votes on Spicer’s behalf?”
“For cripes sake, Jim, he’s the president. He has better things to do than care about a TV dance-off.”
Reality check: He does not, in fact, have better things to do. I mean, to all appearances, he has yet to miss an episode of “Fox & Friends” since being sworn into office.
Frankly, given the level of interest Trump was likely to take in one of his own former aides appearing on reality television, ABC might as well have invited him to be one of the judges.
Andrew Stiles has a fun round-up of liberals overreacting to Trump essentially rigging this dumb show in Spicer’s favor by tweeting about it, but this Very Serious Take from the NYT deserves to be excerpted:
Bad dancing by a nonprofessional can be disarming. It allows you to see the truth within the body that reveals character. But Mr. Spicer, the former White House press secretary and communications director for President Trump, is something worse: an untruthful dancer…
Watching Mr. Spicer try to wipe away some of his disgrace through dancing hurts. Yet here he is, week after week, using dance as a way to redeem his character. Giving the public the chance to laugh with him — dressed as a buffoon in that scary green ruffled shirt, dancing to “Spice Up Your Life” — and not at him comes off as a calculation, on his (and probably the show’s) part. And Mr. Spicer’s later performances have been scary in a different way, like his militaristic Paso Doble, which had a cold brutality to it…
When, in Week 2, voters decided to kick off the former Supreme Mary Wilson — a black grandmother who possesses an undeniable theatrical presence (“the glamour!” Mr. Tonioli said) — instead of Mr. Spicer, it was heartbreaking. It also seemed sexist and ageist.
And in the early weeks, it was striking that the majority of the dancers whose votes put them at the bottom of the pack were black.
“Mr. Spicer remains, and it’s outrageous,” the author sniffs. I’m putting this on your radar now because we can all see where it’s going: Spicer advancing to the final two, with Trump becoming increasingly invested in his success along the way since it’ll flatter his narcissism to know that just a single tweet of his can affect the results so dramatically. By the time the championship round arrives, liberals will be organizing counter-efforts to support Spicer’s competition purely in the name of spiting Trump. The final round will be 90 percent politics. And then, when it’s over, we’ll have to endure a round of hot takes about whether it tells us anything about how next fall’s popular vote is likely to go.
Either way, there’ll be a “no political figures” or “no audience participation” rule on DWTS next season. In the meantime, I hope Spicer wins, and not just because it’d be funny to see something as silly as a TV dance contest sucked into America’s partisan black hole. If he takes the prize, this is destined to end up as a triumphant exhibit in the Donald J. Trump Presidential Library, Hotel, and Casino. Imagine walking through the 2019 wing and, amid the Syria pullout and impeachment, finding a photo of Trump tweeting next to a photo of Spicer celebrating euphorically. We can make it happen.
Three clips here, two of Spicer’s performances last night and the third capturing the judges’ reaction to seeing him advance. I recommend that third one.