It was just a little under two years ago, July 31, 2017, to be exact, when I ran a piece here at the Federalist titled, “Why Anthony Scaramucci Is The Man Trump And America Need.” It moved around a bit through the morning; some nice comments and conversations bubbled up about it. I was pleased. Then, just a few hours after my editors hit publish, President Trump fired Scaramucci. It happens. But now, as Sarah Huckabee Sanders exits the White House press secretary role, I think its time again to make my case for the Mooch to replace her.
But first some thoughts about Sanders who, with the possible exception of Nikki Haley, is exiting the administration on as high a note as anyone has. Despite her reputation being a bit dinged in the media for not always being entirely forthright, her tenure was an excellent one. Her adversarial style as she’d stare down Jim Acosta or pivot from concerns about the White House to concerns about the news media, was brisk and effective. But it’s also a style that would be very hard for anyone else to emulate.
We only got to see Anthony Scaramucci at the podium for 11 days. But what an 11 days it was. He blitzed the media with his Long Island FiBro charm and finally burned out after a tape came out of an interview with The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza that captured the colorful nature of the Mooch’s rhetorical style. He called Reince Priebus a paranoid schizophrenic, and insisted that unlike Steve Bannon he wasn’t trying to, well, orally pleasure himself, so to speak. This, among other things, was all a bit much for prim and proper incoming chief of staff, John Kelly, and Scaramucci was fired.
But in the two years since, Scaramucci has continued to be a valuable and effective surrogate for the president on cable news. And he has done with so a style that couldn’t be less like Sanders’. He’s affable and smiling as he gesticulates and spits out a staccato New York speech. While Sanders glowers at reporters as if to say, “That is a stupid question and you also are stupid,” Scaramucci looks for middle ground, something to agree on and move forward from.
His regular exchanges with CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, which I dubbed, “The Italian American Television Comedy Hour,” sparkle. His more upbeat, fun approach should be welcome in a White House that believes that it came out the victor in the Mueller Report and his perhaps ready to take on less of a siege mentality. Yes, the congressional Democrats are still investigating and shouting “Impeachment!” like some crazy old shop cart lady in Central Park, while not actually impeaching, but so what?
What better way is there for the White House to show that they’ve moved on from the recent unpleasantness than by putting the Mooch back at the podium? Not only would it jazz things up, but also Scaramucci has been building some bridges on both sides of the aisle. In May, he sat down with Obama senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, but also, somewhat amazingly, the same John Kelly that had him sacked.
Sanders has been an excellent wartime consigliere, but the administration is moving out of a time of investigation and into a time of election. Holding down the fort and smacking around the White House press corps isn’t enough anymore. The next press secretary needs a broader reach and a more engaging approach to pull in moderates and independents that Trump needs.
It may be that Scaramucci doesn’t want the job, though it’s quite possible he would accept it if offered, it’s a very difficult job. Trump’s occasional infidelity to facts and his penchant for abruptly changing his mind on important issues and suddenly announcing it on Twitter are unique obstacles for a White House communications shop.
But obstacles can be opportunities too. Trump’s quirkiness and willingness to say just about anything endears him to a lot of voters, and not just in his base. Leaning into that a little bit, which Scaramucci often does by portraying the president as hyperbolic and funny, could go a long way, and frankly just make the White House more fun.
As the age of Sanders come to a close, a new voice will be speaking for the administration. It is a thankless job that quite possibly few qualified people want, but it is also very important. The next press secretary will be an important character in the drama (or maybe reality show) that is the White House. Why not bring back an old face for a healthy dose of comic relief.