Just when you think you know someone…
It was not long ago that many, myself included, were hailing the hiring of Anthony Scaramucci as Head of Communications by the President. Mooch, his name among friends that has quickly become a public moniker, showed that he is far from the calm, measured, and predictable voice that many expected him to be.
In his interview with The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, “Mooch” proved to be ignorant to what qualifies as “on the record.” Worse, he proved himself to be the furthest thing from guarded, even if he did think that the interview was going to remain between himself and Lizza.
It continues the phenomenon that Charles Krauthammer has dubbed ‘The Degradation of the Presidency.’ It continues the recent trend of the president, and now his recently appointed lieutenant of media relations, bad-mouthing fellow Republicans- ones that the president appointed, no less- in liberal media outlets.
Scaramucci’s disjointed rant to Lizza, who is known to be “in good standing with the opposition party,” according to Breitbart, was completely lacking in nuance, foresight, or political tact.
Scaramucci has insinuated that something- he hasn’t said specifically what- about Lizza’s conduct resulted in the publication of quotes that should have been kept private:
Lizza has said that Scaramucci admitted to Lizza that he knew the interview was conducted “above board.”
It’s irrelevant. The nature of the rant has left conservatives wondering what the hell Scaramucci was thinking. Some have speculated that such an off-the-cuff phone call to a left-leaning reporter could only have been done after the consumption of more than a few cocktails. Would it make matters even worse if Scaramucci was acting in a sober state?
It’s tough to say.
What isn’t tough to reach is the conclusion that Scaramucci is prone to volatile, potentially destructive behavior. He was supposed to be the president’s handler, not his clone.
Perhaps Newt Gingrich said it best:
"I think Scaramucci is full of himself," Gingrich said Thursday in a radio interview with Laura Ingraham. "I think he got down here from New York, and he is all excited. Frankly, he is talking more than he is thinking. He needs to slow down and learn the business."
Scaramucci’s gung-ho approach was refreshing at first. But his inability to refrain from the foul-mouthed derision of those who have worked in the administration far longer than he, to a reporter guaranteed to publish the remarks no less, makes Newt’s assessment seem more accurate than not. If sabotage and reporter dishonesty are not to blame, then what could be the motive for such an outburst?
Some are unwilling to believe that Mooch is dumb enough not to realize he was talking on-record. Perhaps, some have suggested, an inability to go on and off the record in a conversation with a reporter is indicative of his inexperience in communications.
If these do not explain it, was the publication intentional, then? Did Scaramucci want the scalding takes to be made public, as the Trump/New York Times interview was?
Scaramucci sure doesn’t seem very remorseful.
His defense for throwing colleagues under the bus after less than two weeks on the job is shameful. It is the political equivalent of “my biggest flaw is that I care too much”:
Much like the President’s Sessions-bashing to an audience of one recorder wielding New York Times reporter, the manner in which Scaramucci’s comments were expressed cannot be excused. But it is the substance of each outburst that makes both men’s actions so alarming to those who believe perception is key in politics.
Scaramucci continued to have a particular ire for now-former Trump Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, threatening again that Priebus would be fired should he be exposed as a leaker. Scaramucci also tagged Priebus in a Tweet that included a less-than-subtle intimation Priebus was, or knew of, the West Wing leaker.
“Reince Priebus — if you want to leak something — he’ll be asked to resign very shortly,” Scaramucci reportedly said in the New Yorker.
The seeds of his recent obsession with Priebus became clear later in the interview:
“Reince is a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac,” he said. Mr. Scaramucci complained that Mr. Priebus had prevented him from getting a job in the White House until now, saying he “blocked Scaramucci for six months.”
Then Scaramucci moved on to enigmatic White House advisor Steve Bannon, where he earned more critics for his choice of words:
“I’m not Steve Bannon. I’m not trying to suck my own cock,” he said. “I’m not trying to build my own brand” on the president’s coattails. “I’m here to serve the country,” he added.
Well, if Mooch wants to serve the country, then he should start serving. Unlike the President, Scaramucci lays no claim to the policy successes that have come in the early months of the Trump years.
More importantly, Mooch should do the things that conservatives have long begged of the president:
Shut down the Twitter account, delete liberal reporters’ phone numbers, and just do your job.