In a perfect world, Sean Spicer would have been Donald Trump’s press secretary for as long as his boss was president, providing him the inarticulate, dishonest, clown-like representation Trump deserves.
But now that he’s resigned, he shouldn’t be allowed to escape his identity as Trump’s most loyal propagandist: a man who saw it as his job to mistreat the press and lie to the public, in service of the president’s efforts to enrich himself and impoverish the country.
Six months and countless humiliations in, it’s hard to imagine a circumstance of departure under which Spicer would have earned the right to rehabilitate his professional reputation. But as if to put a fine point on his self-abasement, Spicer resigned in a huff not because Trump is plunging the country into an authoritarian crisis, but because he wasn’t happy about being assigned a new boss.
To be clear, not wanting to work under Anthony Scaramucci is the most human thing Spicer has done since getting sad that Trump denied him an audience with the Pope. But it is also one of the least elevated justifications Spicer could have cited for his decision to quit. Spicer could have left the White House for any number of high-minded reasons, and he could have used this occasion as an opportunity to make it harder for Trump to do something bad, like smear or fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
He went with naked careerism instead. Even in quitting he owned himself.
As is sadly customary, Spicer will now be deluged with lucrative contracts and job offers. My humble plea: If you’re a respectable or non-political outfit—if you aren’t part of the vast wingnut welfare industrial complex—don’t hire or enrich this man. Don’t give him a platform, don’t let him represent you.
This doesn’t go for everyone who works for the Trump administration or even in the Trump White House, but it does for Spicer. To quote Jack Goldsmith, those whose jobs entail little more than “dirtying one’s hands in propping up [Trump’s] apparent efforts to destroy American institutions” deserve lasting social censure for abdicating civic duty long after they realized what the bargain was.
That conclusion must be weighed against the argument that morally conflicted people should be provided incentives to resign. But of course, White House employees don’t all do the same work and not all former Trump officials will have such an impossible time justifying their service. Spicer is the quintessential quisling. The need for a reckoning is clear. Boycotts are in order.