Appointing Sarah Huckabee Sanders as Press Secretary Changes Nothing

Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pauses while speaking during an off-camera press briefing at the White House, Tuesday, July 18, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

I like Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the newly appointed Press Secretary for the Trump administration.

She has a fierce, straightforward style. She’s not afraid to go back-and-forth with members of the media. She furrows her brow and stares at them with incredulity. She will not allow media-types to walk all over her or her boss, no matter the subject in question. It’s possible to notice, and admire, these traits, regardless of my feelings toward the president and his policies as a whole.

I’m one of those Americans who doesn’t get anything of substance from the White House press briefings. To me, they seem to be little more than political theater. The poor press secretary, whomever they may be, is tasked with being the conduit from the president to the press, and as well as the American people. To be sure, their role is a stressful one. I don’t envy the pressure they’re under as they parade themselves in front of the media (and sometimes cameras) each day.

Press briefings matter as much as the press and the press secretary will allow. The press is looking for soundbites to grasp onto, and chances to formulate narratives. I guess some actual reporting is done, too. Opposite of them is the press secretary, looking to answer questions (to a certain extent) smooth waters, introduce ideas or upcoming events, and make the president look good.

The rest of us – the American people – either cheerlead entirely for one side, or look at the game at play, and refuse to buy any of it. Of course, some in the MAGA crowd are drooling over Sanders’ appointment. Responses have already included the following:

“See? Trump can’t be a sexist. He appointed a female as the new press secretary! That blows the liberal talking point right out of the water.”

Insert a major eye roll. If voiding decades of past behavior were that easy, it would already have been accomplished through Kellyanne Conway’s role, among other things. No, it’s not accurate to use Sanders as the reason President Trump could not be considered a sexist. Perhaps let’s keep from reaching some sort of conclusion about that claim.

On the other hand, those who are vehemently against the Trump administration have already picked at Sanders, her abilities, and yes, even her appearance. While she is certainly capable of taking criticism, something that goes with this job especially, it’s unfortunate that some center around whether Huckabee Sanders’ looks are model runway ready.

These reactions highlight the preoccupation that the press and this administration both have with the superficial.

As far as the long haul is concerned, I don’t know if Sarah Huckabee Sanders will get a pass from some because she’s a female, or be more heavily scrutinized because of it. I’m expecting both.

What remains clear is that her appointment, while newsworthy because of how Sean Spicer left, changes nothing. The briefings, whether we see them all or not, will continue much in the same way. Sanders will do her best to deflect and promote, and the media will work at digging and distracting.

Business as usual.

I guess I’m supposed to clutch pearls at whatever emanates from either team in these daily briefings, but I haven’t and won’t. As with all presidents and their respective administrations, actions are much louder than words. As of right now, it’s not been much more than just noise.