Government communications: What a tangled web we weave...

If Sean Spicer, President Trump’s biggest-ever-inauguration-crowd press secretary, has even half the wit of one of those clever gamblers who will make a profit at Cheltenham he is a wiser man today than he was when he joined the alternative-facts presidency. His capacity to tell porkie after porkie did not earn any loyalty and today, not yet halfway through the Trump imperium, Mr Spicer is, like Bertie Ahern, a public speaker for hire. His credibility is no longer relevant.

He was not the first, nor the last, government cheerleader to gild the lily. As the advice offered by the Blair government aide Jo Moore hours after the 9/11 attack that it was a “good day to bury bad news” shows, opportunism and cynicism can, in that business, combine to push the edges of honesty. As a slight twist in one of Shakespeare’s wise invocations shows: “The evil that press secretaries do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has needlessly squandered

political capital by not better managing the strategic communications unit. That his party predecessor Alan Dukes, a man with his own story to tell about mismanaged good intentions, added to the kerfuffle by suggesting he close his Twitter account will hardly improve his mood.

As ever, honesty is the best policy and if Mr Varadkar should meet Mr Spicer in America this week that may be his rueful advice. Mr Varadkar should take it.

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