“I hope that it will be that I showed up every day and I did the very best job … to be transparent and honest throughout that process and do everything I could to make America a little better that day than it was the day before,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during an interview last December.
She couldn’t have been more wrong.
Last Thursday she announced that she would be leaving her White House post by the end of the month, giving the American public a perfect opportunity to reflect on her tumultuous tenure.
The first and foremost duty of the press secretary is to keep the American public informed through the daily White House Press briefings. She failed to do so, clocking in only 8 briefings in the past 300 days. These briefings allow reporters to introduce important questions and create a public record of the administration’s response. Despite the importance of her job, Sanders had perfected the lazy and uninterested demeanor of Trump himself, and her capacity to spin lies out of nothing was a perfect imitation of his character.
When she was pressed about the firing of Former FBI Director James Comey, she even admitted to Mueller that she had simply fabricated the baseless smear of Comey, a high ranking government official. But once she was no longer under oath or facing jail time, she reverted back to her lie. How could someone with such a blatant lack of morality hold such an important job?
In fact, her honesty (or lack thereof) was one of her most damning aspects. So far in his Presidency, Trump has admitted to over 10,000 false or misleading statements, yet I cannot ever recall a time where Sanders acknowledged the President’s lies. In all honesty, she was an unlikely choice for press secretary, possessing frighteningly few of the necessary traits. She earned no credibility with the media, possessed no meaningful information to share, touted a limited grasp of policy, and enjoyed no special insights into Trump’s thought processes.
The more likely explanation for her role was that she was never meant to be press secretary.
Her real job was more likely to be the White House’s very own “Very Visible Woman.”
She was the female face tasked with defending an administration fraught with misogyny. She used her role as an “empowered working mother” to make Trump’s sexism more palatable to white women.
It can be argued that the one thing Sanders was good at was weaponizing her womanhood whenever politically convenient. She was only the third woman to hold the position, and the very first mother — and she knew it.
Sanders is far from the only prominent woman Trump has elevated to power. Advisor Kellyanne Conway, former Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen and Advisor Ivanka Trump have all been prominent faces of the administration. These women pride themselves on “empowerment” yet actively work to reinforce inequality and fight against women’s rights. Its evidence of a growing conservative trend of using white feminism as a weapon against true equality.
So what is Sanders legacy? Only time can tell the extent of the damage she has done to the post, but may she always be remembered as the woman who normalized the idea that the press is the enemy of the people and the White House. For better or for worse she has fundamentally redefined what it means to be press secretary.
Featured Image Via CNN