I was about to his “publish” on this post when Anthony Scaramucci was unceremoniously discharged from service at the White House by Gen. John “Brick” Kelly (I just gave him that nickname for his unflinching devotion to doing the hard things). What great news. Kelly’s action, to me, validates the problem I discuss below, and gives me a glimmer of hope that things could improve.
Liars can and do reform.
President Trump tells it like it is. He’s honest about what he believes. He “means what he says.” These are the arguments presented as to why traditional communications professionals can’t (won’t) work the Trump, and why people like Anthony Scaramucci are a better fit–and good for the country.
In the long run, that decision will be good for Trump and for the American people. The reason everyone from Pennsylvania Avenue to Main Street should celebrate this move is that it finally puts the cards on the table.
So, just as a soldier risking his life on the front lines would rather have a brilliant general who was profane and slept around than a polite, faithfully-married, but ineffective general, so many voters chose Trump as the most effective person for the job.
I respect both men, especially Dr. Brown, who was present at my own baptism 18 years ago. But I think, one from a purely political angle and the other from a more religious one, that they are both missing the point. They are both ignoring one major problem with Trump and his White House.
They lie about everything. Little things like the inauguration crowd size (“alternative facts”), and big things like Russia. Trump has made his career based on telling lies. He’s very effective at it, almost as good as Bill Clinton. (And for the Liars Club, Clinton is legendary, even possibly the GOAT in American politics.)
Marcus said it’s good that this move “finally puts the cards on the table.” Except the cards aren’t honest. It’s more like Three-card Monte than an open hand. There’s a reason why Sean Spicer looked so uncomfortable–besides the ill-fitting suit jacket–on his first day on the job. He had to stand up in front of the press and lie his head off and make it seem natural.
Most communications shops are really good at “spin.” With the proper talking points, a grain of truth, and a bathtub of lies and axle grease, they can make Benghazi about a Youtube video. They can protect the political principal and make everything plausibly deniable. But they can’t handle Trump, who himself leads with gargantuan lies rapid-fired to confuse and distract the press.
The only way to deal with Trump is to have a perfect straight man to go along with everything he says, even if it contradicts what he just said (it frequently does). Kellyanne Conway is fairly good at this, but she’s a known quantity in the press, and an actual nice person.
It takes the equivalent of a mob enforcer, fiercely loyal to the capo de tutti capi, to handle a hostile press. Scaramucci is correct in his obscene reference to Stephen Bannon, in that Bannon has his own agenda, and Trump is an instrument/partner. Scaramucci is 100 percent a posterior-kissing, genuflecting worshipper of Trump, with no other agenda (right now).
To be honest, I get a really bad vibe from the guy, like a Beria to Stalin, or a Himmler to you-know-who vibe. A guard dog who can lie, cheat, and do whatever is necessary in service of his boss. G. Gordon Liddy before he reformed, perhaps. But Liddy was behind the scenes, while Scaramucci is right out in the klieg lights.
Marcus wrote “President Donald Trump is who he is. He’s a tough as nails New Yorker who enjoys competition.” That’s one interpretation. One could just as easily argue that he’s a soft-as-Jell-o rich boy who enjoys torturing others like pulling wings off butterflies.
“At the same time, he is a 70-year-old, rough and tumble, New York businessman,” Brown wrote of Trump, “more cutthroat than compassionate when it comes to getting things done.” He went on to write that from this perspective, “he’s not really much of an enigma after all.”
I don’t think Trump is an enigma. I honestly believes he loves America–or at least his vision of what he thinks America is and should be. Some of it’s like Barack Obama said, he believes his own bulls**t. But there’s far more BS that Trump doesn’t believe at all, that’s simply tossed out there to make himself look good, or to further endear those who are under his thrall to himself.
He lies. Scaramucci lies. They believe lying is part and parcel of governing; that in fact everyone does it. So when Attorney General Jeff Sessions tells the truth, or when Reince Priebus won’t lie (not spin, but outright lie) or when Sean Spicer is not the best liar, they get upset. Grifters never like it when they have to rely on honest people.
I don’t know how things will work out with Gen. John Kelly as chief of staff. He’s probably an honest guy who knows the value of a ruse. Maybe Trump/Scaramucci can persuade him to go along to get along–that this is to advance “Trump’s agenda.” Or maybe they’ll set him up like they’ve done to so many others.
This, however, I do believe. Getting rid of “nice guys” by discrediting them and replacing them with liars, cheats and confidence men is not the way to govern, nor is it something to be explained away so easily.