Sean Spicer may just be the first in the long list of those quitting on Donald Trump
Change is the only constant in Washington. We know that. However, whereas Fridays are usually on the slower and uneventful side, this past Friday, July 21, 2017, was one hell of an exception. It was anything but slow or uneventful. In fact, it turned out to be one of those Fridays when you know before noon that today is going to be “that” Friday!
As if Donald Trump’s New York Times interview earlier in the week was not enough to create a furor, the appointment of Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci as the White House (WH) communications director triggered a counter reaction from an otherwise unquestioning and unflinching Trump crony, Sean Spicer.
Spicer, who had performed a yeoman’s job in the first six months of the Trump presidency, reportedly protested Scaramucci’s appointment and ended up quitting a job that was slipping out of his hands anyway. To many, for several months now, Spicer was a dead horse in Trump’s eyes, one he regretted appointing as the WH press secretary.
Things in the Trump WH work in a treacherously horrendous manner. There is an unprecedented behavioural nuance that prevents rational thinking to make its presence felt. While Spicer played along and pushed the “alternative facts” card, it seemed as if he himself lived an alternative life.
He would show up to face the press almost every day and defended the indecisiveness, confusion, nervousness, drama and chaos that Trump has caused throughout the initial stage of his presidency. One has to agree with CNN’s assertion that,
“Spicer’s resignation caps off one of the most tumultuous tenures for a WH press secretary, one that saw Spicer repeatedly undermined in his role as the WH’s public-facing spokesman by the president’s own public statements and tweets.”
Trump doesn’t need a spokesman. He’s his own biggest mouthpiece and his tweets drive the news. Much of Spicer’s struggles were just a symptom of a disease that symbolises the Trump administration – dishonest, confusing, self-defeating and, of course, Trump’s inability to stay on message – a problem that will not only carry on but also continue to challenge and leave the Scaramucci communications staff exposed and bewildered.
People say that Scaramucci doesn’t realise what he’s gotten himself into. His newfound love for Trump may turn out to be a short-lived fling, one that will put Scaramucci right where he initially belonged, i.e. the anti-Trump camp.
Trump’s main worry is not leadership and certainly not the people of America. His concern instead centres on television ratings. While it took a Washington insider like Spicer’s ginormous guts to appear in front of the press (and sometimes not), take curve balls and defend outlandish shenanigans of his boss, his status had more or less been reduced to “a guy who cleans up the elephant poop at the circus and is proud to be in the show business”.
Sean Spicer is like the guy who cleans up the elephant poop at the circus and is proud to be in show business.
— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) May 30, 2017
No matter what people think of Scaramucci – smooth, affable or whatever – Trump has put him on the podium to lie, grift and peddle his snake oil. From being a fierce opponent of the president, The Mooch, a not so much of a Washington insider, has sweet-talked his way into the WH.
However, that doesn’t mean that at a time when Trump is in the process of surrounding himself with close family, friends and loyalists on account of the Russian investigation, Scaramucci will have a smooth ride. In fact, things are going to get rougher, and just like Spicer, Scaramucci will also end up drawing daggers at the WH press corps and say goodbye to the flying kisses that he gave at the end of his introductory meeting.
It is an irony of fate that the US has elected a president who was under investigation well before he took oath of office. His problems have only compounded with the passage of time. While Robert Mueller may not have decisively sharp teeth as an independent counsel like Ken Starr, it appears that if Mueller is allowed to continue the Russian investigation and is not fired by Trump, he can cause plenty of trouble for the president.
This is one matter that’s playing on Trump’s head constantly and he wants to tackle it as soon as possible. One can feel the panic coming out from the WH in the form of (a) unusually anxiety-stricken statements made by Trump himself such as the one expressing remorse at appointing Jeff Sessions as the attorney general recently; and (b) discord and delusion amongst WH staffers.
The problem is that most of the folks in Trump’s inner sanctum have issues, serious issues of legal and ethical nature that, under ordinary set of circumstances, would’ve rocked the very foundations of a presidency. However, this is a Trump Associates WH where everything goes. It is an asylum for the most crooked and obnoxious where past blemishes are conveniently overlooked. What matters is the loyalty to the president of the Queen’s County bullies association.
While we don’t know for sure what the future holds for Scaramucci, we do know that his past, for the most part, featured glimpses of pragmatism. The guy is against guns, he’s against building walls, he condemned Trump’s idea of a Muslim ban in addition to supporting the Democratic Party’s presidential candidates as well as the Republicans who ran against Trump.
Granted that Scaramucci took down his online anti-Trump rants as soon as he took the communication director’s job, one wonders (a) what kind of scruples does he have? Did he not do any self-reflection prior to jumping on the Trump bandwagon?; and (b) why did he accept Trump’s offer if his own views are so diametrically opposed to Trump’s outrageously nasty ideals?
I don’t doubt Scaramucci’s integrity or his sense of judgment. I’m simply questioning the lameness of his desire to be a big time Washington role player in a WH administration. I’m sure he understands that he’s been called upon to do Spicer-type clean-up jobs, spruce up the administration’s image, and be the spin doctor that this administration desperately needs to protect a failing presidency.
People often said about Spicer that he looked “dead inside” and had “lost the light in his eyes”. Scaramucci clearly has his work cut out for him. He may have built a fortune wheeling and dealing on Wall Street but projecting and propagating a WH headed by Trump in a positive light may bring with it heartaches and a whole new level of anxiety and disappointments.
He may think of Reince Priebus as his brother but he doesn’t know that a surging Russian probe can leave a lot many heads rolling and that everyone fends for themselves as in this administration there’s no leader, no unifying force to gel people together or look out for their collective interests.
Scaramucci is a suave and savvy businessman who plays the TV well and is known for, just like Trump, ruthless business tactics. The rising Washington temperatures have also heated up matters within the corridors of power.
As Trump brings about changes, reshuffles the core to gear up for the battle ahead, one wonders who will be shown the door next – Sessions? Rod Rosenstein? Bob Mueller? Priebus? It could turn out to be a long list of casualties before Trump either loses gnat-like patience and decides to quit (highly unlikely) or lets some sanity prevail by stopping the spread of turmoil.
Already the departures of National Security Adviser chief, deputy chief of staff, communications director, FBI director, deputy attorney general, press secretary and VPs chief of staff in just about 180 days of this presidency’s existence have caused enough commotion.
They say Trump thrives in chaos. Sure, he does. However, let’s not forget that he’s been delegated to run a country no less than the United States of America and not one of his many failing business fiefdoms.
While one wishes Scaramucci all the best, it is hoped that he does possess a Spicer-type uprightness and is aware enough to walk away when values and principles are about to be compromised. He may soon realise that the whole ‘loyalty’ thing only works one way with Trump.
Washington needs a super heavy dose of good people. They need to work their magic to ensure that all that is critical to our existence as a nation remains intact as we move forward to unveil the faces of evil that hijacked our democracy and hacked our political system.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.