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Opinion ‘No one is perfect’: Here’s how Sarah Huckabee Sanders excuses Trump’s conduct

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders answers a question during the daily briefing at the White House in December in Washington. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

For a just-published profile of White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the New Yorker’s Paige Williams got spotty cooperation. As it turns out, Sanders treats profile writers much the way she treats the press in her increasingly rare briefings. With a meddling touch, that is. Writes Williams: “Sanders may accept that she can’t control the questions she is asked, but she nevertheless tries to take control of every exchange. In her interactions with me, she took this approach to extremes, saying that almost everything was off the record.”

What’s not off the record is the interview that Sanders gave to Baptist Press in January, where she talked about her Christian faith — a topic on which this daughter of a former Southern Baptist preacher turned politician, Mike Huckabee, has always been outspoken. In those comments, Sanders spoke about how religion mixes with politics: “A lot of times people say you need to separate faith and work, and my answer is that you can’t. Because if you are a deep-rooted Christian, your faith is what defines you, and I think that’s something that I try to take with me in everything I do and certainly don’t separate that when I go to work every day.”

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In her time with Sanders, Williams poked around on an adjacent topic. Just how did this Christian woman reconcile her Christian principles with the fellow who paid off Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about an alleged extramarital affair? Or, for that matter, hundreds of other offenses to common decency? From the profile:

“I’m not going to my office expecting it to be my church,” [Sanders] answered. “Frankly, if people of faith don’t get involved in the dirty process, then you’re missing the entire point of what we’re called to do. You’re not called to go into the places where everyone already thinks like you and is a believer — you have to go onto a stage where they’re not.” She went on, “You have to take that message into the darkest places, and the dirtiest places, and the most tainted and dysfunctional places. If you can influence even one person, that’s what you’re supposed to do.” (Later, Sanders said that she was speaking broadly, about her social duty as a Christian and not about the White House.)
I said a lot of Americans feel that the person who needs the most help is Trump.
“We all need help,” she said. “That’s the whole basis of Christianity. No one is perfect. We are all sinners.” I asked her if she considered Trump racist. She said no.

“No one is perfect” — what an elegant assertion of false equivalence. As if Trump’s predecessors in the White House were imperfect to the same degree as 45. It’s this ability that separates Sanders from previous press secretary Sean Spicer: She is the master of the unassailable and ultimately meaningless reply.

Watch how White House press secretary Sarah Sanders manufactures urgency to avoid answering reporters' questions. (Video: Gillian Brockell, Kate Woodsome, Danielle Kunitz, Erik Wemple/The Washington Post)