When President Trump hired Anthony Scaramucci as his communications director, he was sending a very clear message about the future of his administration. When a week later he leaned into the mic and told Reince Priebus, “You’re fired,” he doubled down on that message. In short, the president is saying: I got elected doing things my way and ignoring you GOP blowhards, and that isn’t going to change.
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. Throughout the campaign and even after it, we had GOP officials predicting that Trump could be guided, molded into a responsible Republican president. It has never been true, and we are all better off for finally realizing it.
Let’s look at four of the respectable Republicans who assured us Trump was controllable. Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie, Jeff Sessions, and Priebus all smiled and laughed away Trump’s irregular style while predicting he would settle down. Gingrich has been smart enough to stay out of the administration, Christie was uninvited, Sessions has been dragged over the president’s hot Twitter coals, and Priebus was driven away from the presidential motorcade in a black SUV. They were, in a word the president says in his own unique style, “wrong.”
No Serious Person Wants the Job
I asked Ryan Williams, former spokesman for governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney, why seasoned GOP communications people don’t want to work for this White House. His answer was “Everything.” He went on to say, “If the principal won’t stay on message, nothing works. He [Trump] has shown no indication he’s willing to listen, he steps all over message weeks, and he treats his staff like garbage.”
Williams said Trump asks his communications people to go out and say things that are patently false, such as the idea that maybe he won the popular vote, and that people who want to work in this field for the next 30 years can’t have those kinds of untruths following them around. It’s a sobering account, and one that shows, as Williams agrees, that Scaramucci is in a unique to position to give the president what he wants.
According to Williams, Scaramucci was around the Romney campaign as a donor who wanted the spotlight and was used on CNBC and Fox News. At that time he wasn’t taken very seriously. But as a successful businessman, who along with generals and family members are the only people Trump seems to respect, Scaramucci is in a better position than a communications professional to be the president’s spokesperson.
Why This Is Good For America
When considering Donald Trump, one thing is important to remember: he means what he says. This weekend Trump suggested that police need not be terribly careful in ensuring that suspects being put in police cars aren’t accidentally injured. He told police they don’t have to put a hand on suspects’ heads when putting them into a police car. As many police forces have said in response, this is not their policy, and frankly it is dangerous to officers who don’t want to escalate situations and put themselves in danger.
Any normal White House communications team would be working overtime to mitigate the president’s remarks. Thus far, Scaramucci’s team is doing no such thing. Why not? Because it is what the president actually believes, for better or worse. And in an environment where our nation’s police are under constant attack for brutality—some real, some imagined—it’s a message that plays with a law and order base.
At the end of the day, it’s better that we know what the president genuinely feels about such issues, not what his comms team thinks is the best message. This is because the president will not follow his comms team’s advice and is going to cut his own path. Let’s hear Trump out, let’s have his ideas and policies displayed in all their glory and not let career handlers try to massage the message. The communications director is the mouth of the president. In his colorful way, Scaramucci is not just the Mooch, he’s the mouth, and it sounds very much like Trump’s.
A New York Shop
Of late, the best show on television has been the Cuomo and Scaramucci Italian American comedy segments on CNN’s “New Day” morning show. The Cuomo in question is Chris, brother of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and son of former New York governor and Democratic Party superstar Mario Cuomo. The exchanges have been replete with Scaramucci referring to their mutual eye-talian, New York upbringings and its corresponding loyalties and attitudes.
In one interview, Scaramucci said, “I’m a New Yorker, you’re a New Yorker, the president is a New Yorker.” He went on to say that that he wants the White House to be like an honest New York shop. This is a loaded concept. An honest New York shop is not necessarily one that plays by all the rules, but rather one that stays on the same page and is, in that sense honest.
After that interview, Cuomo kind of defended Scaramucci. Cuomo said he grew up in a New York political shop and people regularly glad-handled his dad. They wanted to be close to power.
Honesty Is The Best Policy
“Not for nothing,” is an old Italian expression in New York, one Scaramucci has yet to use but which describes his style. It’s an expression meant to gently tell someone he is doing something wrong. “Not for nothing, when you come here wear a tie”—that kind of thing. Scaramucci is the “not for nothing” communications director. Hey, did I say Steve Bannon tries to suck his own c-ck? Yeah. Did I call Priebus a paranoid schizophrenic? Sure. As one colleague of mine recently put it, the Mooch is Trump’s id.
And hey, why not? What value is there in trained professionals trying to turn Trump’s outer borough vulgarities into beltway sweet talk? Aren’t we better off with a spokesman who not only speaks but revels in Trump’s triumphant trash talk regardless of its tenuous relationship with the truth? Isn’t the job of the White House communications team to tell us what the president wants and believes? The Mooch gives us that in spades.
Most political commentators have their heads in their hands, asking how it came to this. How did this over-energetic guy become the voice of the White House? Well, look at the big desk in the Oval Office. Who do you think should be speaking for him? Why would we want levelheaded professionals pretending he isn’t saying what he says? Who does that serve?
President Donald Trump is who he is. He’s a tough as nails New Yorker who enjoys competition. No well-intentioned compromisers from Wisconsin, be they Paul Ryan or Priebus, can change that. President Trump needs a voice that speaks his language. Scaramucci is fluent. Trump will never be a Republican in any sense we used to think of. Can he change what Republican means? Maybe. And making Anthony Scaramucci his mouthpiece lets us all know the stakes.