Like a lot of dads, Spicer has something like a negative gift for imparting details about things like color and furniture. It is admirable that he recognizes that we generally expect these things of authors and tries his best anyway, which results in such masterpieces of description as “the White House itself is rather expansive” and “President Donald J. Trump was sitting at the end of the dining room table — a rectangular table made of polished, dark-brown wood.” A table made of wood? Imagine that! When he wants to make sure we realize that he is talking about something that happened a long time ago, he notes that it “was in the days before BlackBerrys and iPhones.” The advent of new technology, which seems to fascinate and confuse him simultaneously, is a recurring theme in these pages: “Then there was this new thing, the Internet,” he observes before explaining that in 1994 if a campaign staffer wanted to watch news coverage but couldn’t be in front of the television he would have to ask someone else for help, in which case “we would drive to his or her house, pop the VHS tape into the VCR, and hit play (if the supporter had kindly already rewound the tape before we arrived).”
As you might expect, The Briefing is also full of lame jokes. When Spicer drops a Japanese class in college during the book’s interminable autobiography section, he wryly notes, “I guess a D minus in any language is still a D minus.” He meets his wife Rebecca after being forced to skip an event at an upscale restaurant in Dupont Circle because he is wearing jeans and instead meets someone who effects their introduction at a venue called The Lucky Bar: “I would learn later just how aptly named The Lucky Bar is.” You can almost hear the groans of his school-aged children in the van as Dan Fogelberg’s Greatest Hits gives way in the five-disc changer to Kiss’ Alive! and the old man cranks the volume.