Anthony Scaramucci moves quickly, but not always coherently. In so many ways, the new White House communications director is so much like his boss: grotesquely entertaining like a drunken party before the projectile vomiting begins.
Scaramucci, as his call to the New Yorker so aptly demonstrated, is undisciplined and unprincipled, over-reaching and under-qualified, petty, vindictive, and above all, in love with his own image on TV. In short, he’s the perfectly-coiffed face of Donald Trump’s presidency.
Now there are some signs that he is not in fact the media maven so beloved by political reporters many moons ago, when he was named to his job last week. It turns out that a bravado briefing from the White House podium does not translate to any ability to fill the job of communications director.
But no matter. This is the Trump White House, where competency is of far less value than sycophancy, and virtuous staffers are worth rather less than a Ruby Tuesday special.
Scaramucci, ‘the Mooch’, spent all of a week inside the West Wing before he reached breaking point, ripped off his Scooby Doo face mask, and revealed himself to be some kind of Torquemada, purging the White House of its evil heretics.
The subject of his Inquisition are the devil-worshippers known as “leakers” who speak to the press. The Mooch has brilliantly discovered these people working in the White House press office, where the disloyal lowlifes spend their days engaging with Beelzebub’s reporters on all sorts of calumny ranging from transgender soldiers to Russian collusion.
His solution: fire one of them to teach them a good lesson. Well, maybe not fire them in the technical sense of the term. Maybe just tell everyone he was going to fire the innocent and hapless Michael Short – a linchpin of the conspiracy from his vantage point as assistant press secretary. Like the great comms chief he is, the Mooch leaked news of Short’s departure before actually firing him. So Short quit of his own accord, denying strongly that he was a leaker at all.
The Mooch quickly decried the leakers who made the firing such a disaster – somehow overlooking his own role in the leak – before hatching a new plan: he would fire everyone in the press shop!
This is a unique communications strategy – firing the entire press office. But it seems to be playing on the mind of the Mooch, who told his best buddy Sean Hannity (of Fox News fame) that he was going to “hermetically seal off” the press team, if he had to.
Why not vacuum pack the entire press shop and cook them sous-vide? That will stop their loose lips from flapping. Of course, it will also do nothing to close what the Mooch memorably called last week “the arbitrage spread” between what the Trumpistas and the media think of the great orange leader. But hey, that’s the price of a good purge.
Much like his boss, the Mooch isn’t in the West Wing to do the obvious stuff, such as communications. This Inquisition is much bigger than that. Having forced out Short and his old boss, Sean Spicer, he is finally turning his sights to the real enemy. That man is Reince Priebus, the weakest chief of staff in living memory, and the mentor to both Short and Spicer.
So on Wednesday night when the Mooch’s public financial disclosure forms became, you know, public, our Grand Inquisitor turned on the screws known as Twitter. “In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony I will be contacting @FBI and the @TheJusticeDept,” he thundered, before deleting the tweet, like all good comms experts.
Never mind that the Harvard Law School grad is wrong about the felony and thus the investigation he is demanding: the public disclosure of a public disclosure form is no felony. The Mooch’s hair is on fire and nothing will extinguish the flames except the confession of the man he tagged in his tweet: Priebus.
In a bizarre and rambling CNN interview on Thursday – as bizarre as Donald Trump’s speech to the Boy Scouts – the Mooch said it was up to Reince to clear his own name, before the Mooch cleared out his brain. “If Reince wants to explain he’s not a leaker, let him do that,” he said on national television.
This is a man he described as a brother last week. Now he explains what kind of brotherhood he had in mind. “When I said we were brothers from the podium, that’s because some brothers are like Cain and Abel.”
Ah, yes, the murdering brother story. Such a great parable for this Inquisition. But let’s get back to the real enemy: the deep state represented by the Dark Prince Reince and his RNC establishment types. There are reports of White House diagrams revealing the ultimate leaker’s identity, but they may have just lifted them from The Da Vinci Code.
“There are people inside the administration that think it is their job to save America from this president. That is not their job,” declared the Mooch, as he described most of the nation’s capital. “It’s not their job from the establishment, through calcification, to sit there and try to withhold the president, to rein him in or slow down his agenda.”
Loyalty is a curious test for a man who backed any candidate other than Trump last year, and raised funds for Barack Obama in 2008. Then again, Torquemada himself was the descendent of converts. It’s the zeal of the convert that leads them to cover up their own divided loyalties. The only good news about this civil war is that while they are hunting each other down, they have less time to fight the rest of us.
Fighting is what the Mooch seems to do best. Fighting and cursing, mostly about his beloved brother. “Reince is a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac,” he told the New Yorker, as he raged about being “cock-blocked” by Priebus. This is something of a theme for the Mooch, who also told the magazine that Steve Bannon, the last dark prince, was working to pleasure himself. “I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock,” he declared.
This is a relief, because one sucker is one too many inside any workplace. Our Inquisitor is made of tougher stuff, and he will not lose this righteous battle against evil. “The swamp will not defeat him,” he said of his own holy spirit. “They’re trying to resist me, but it’s not going to to work. I’ve done nothing wrong on my financial disclosures, so they’re going to have to go fuck themselves.”
Setting aside the rather crude sexual insults, the Mooch is an unwitting seer of truths. He just doesn’t know what he’s looking at. “Under-confidence plus insecurity always equals paranoia and backstabbing,” he told CNN. He thought he was talking about his ex-brother Reince, but of course he was actually describing himself perfectly. Except that the Mooch prefers to stab people in the chest rather than the back.
Public humiliation is a much-overlooked management technique that traditional executives never learn in their elitist MBA studies. At Trump University, however, it is seen as an unqualified success. Ricky Gervais might have created The Office, but Donald Trump has perfected this leadership style in the mockumentary known as the Oval Office.
Trump himself has spent much of the last week tormenting Jeff Sessions the way his sidekick is tormenting his chief of staff. If you’re going to trash your attorney general on Twitter every day, why not just have the guts to fire the man? Because the suffering is what makes them confess to their sins.
This is no way to run a revolution, never mind a small paper business. But that’s OK, because the spirit of this purge is pure. “I said to the president this morning, I can’t afford to be a sycophant to you,” the Mooch told CNN.
Is there a more perfect expression of sycophancy? Yes there is! “As you know from the Italian expression, the fish stinks from the head down,” the Mooch explained. “I can tell you two fish that don’t stink. That’s me and the president.”
And that’s why they pay him the big bucks. According to his financial forms, the obscenely big bucks. Because he doesn’t smell like a stinking fish.
The Mooch is clearly a genius of communications, and Donald Trump deserves nothing less.
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