Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Spicey & The Mooch: Surrealism At 1600

Anthony "The Mooch" Scaramucci & Sean Spicer
Last week as I watched the strange, and lengthy, introductory press conference of newly-tapped White House Director of Communications Anthony Scaramucci, it seemed as if I was watching the presidency slip even further down the rabbit hole live on CNN.

It was during my lunch break at the gym so I was on an exercise bike watching on a screen with closed captions instead of sound.

Even still, Scaramucci's statements came off like a deafening confirmation that Donald Trump is determined to further insulate himself from reality by hiring yet another overbearing sycophant slash-Washington outsider who's willing to pledge loyalty to a widely-despised president saddled with a 35% approval rating - and no major legislative or policy accomplishments.

One whose administration is defined by crisis, incompetence and unprecedented political buffoonery.

Just hours after the embattled press secretary Sean Spicer submitted his resignation, Anthony Scaramucci stepped to the podium of the White House press room before the cameras and gathered press like some contestant plucked from a reality show audition.

Here's a guy who left law school to take a job at Goldman-Sachs before starting two different Wall Street firms (who's known affectionately to his peers as "The Mooch"), waving his hands and gesticulating and literally professing his love for Donald Trump in the press room of the White House.

It was like a Salvador Dali painting (with sound) come to life in a White House that was already considered surreal by many observers.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders glowering as The
Mooch gets chatty at his press conference 
The Mooch's hiring was openly chided by multiple members of the top White House staff because of his lack of communications or political experience and his reputation as a slick salesman.

Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, senior strategist Stephen Bannon and the now ex-press secretary Sean Spicer all opposed Scaramucci's hiring.

As the Daily Beast reported last Friday, "other top aides worried that the Scaramucci hiring would perpetuate the notion of 'Amateur hour' in the West Wing."

But The Mooch seemed genuinely intoxicated by being in front of the cameras, and as he gleefully took question after question and preened, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders actually walked out to the podium and stood a few feet from him with a scowl on her face to politely try and hint that he needed to wrap it up.

Probably because she reportedly wasn't happy that Trump hired him as her new boss, but also
because his press conference was stretching into 30 minutes, and because his slick camera style and easy banter was making her seem like the humorless, overly-confrontational, one-note right-wing partisan hack that she is.

The Mooch isn't stupid, and he's probably aware that Huckabee Sanders considers herself "Republican royalty" and above him because her right-wing talk radio host-Christian minister father Mike Huckabee ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and 2016 - and she worked for the campaign.

But Scaramucci made his own bones as they say, and as he made the rounds of the Sunday morning news shows like a glowing 17-year-old at a debutante ball, he seemed to fire off a shot at Huckabee Sanders towards the end of an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN's State of the Union, saying

"Sarah, if your watching I love the hair and makeup person we used on Friday, so I'd like to continue to use the hair and makeup person." 

Obviously it's not hard to see why Trump likes The Mooch.

Farewell Spicey
Say what you want about Sean Spicer (and I've said plenty), he's always been a committed conservative Republican who is committed to the party, whereas Scaramucci has basically served Scaramucci, opportunistically allowing the winds of change to take him wherever they lead.

He was a finance guy for President Obama's campaign who openly eviscerated Trump on Fox News back in 2015.

Think all that crap he said about "loving" Donald Trump in his White House press conference was genuine?

Just take a couple minutes and listen to some of the things Scaramucci said about Trump in a Fox News interview - what a difference 24 months makes.

The only unfortunate thing was that this transition happened during the summer when Saturday Night Live is on summer hiatus and can't do a skit about this shakeup at the White House.

If I was an SNL writer, I'd play on the obvious tension between Scaramucci and Spicer by pitching one of those faux-SNL commercials for a fictional TV cop series called "Spicey and The Mooch". 

It would be a send up of one of those old buddy cop TV series like Starsky and Hutch.

Spicey would play the hard-nosed always-plays-it-by-the-book cop, married to his high school sweetheart for 20 years who's forced to partner up with The Mooch - the slick wise-guy cop with perfect teeth who never stops talking, plays by his own rules, has been married three times and now lives with his lovable old Italian mother in Brooklyn.

But alas, as amusing as it would have been to have both Spicey and The Mooch in the same White House communications department trying to unite their talents like the Wonder Twins to spin Trump's constant stream of lies, baseless accusations and incomprehensible nonsense ("Covfefe"?), Spicer decided that was enough.

Trump acting like an ass at the BSA Jamboree
While I thought Spicer did a real disservice to his professional reputation by being willing to stand up and defend what he knew were outrageous lies by Trump, he was loyal to him - and Trump may come to miss Spicey in the dark days ahead.

Since the shakeup on Friday, Trump seems to have gone off his rocker, with his blathering display of partisan idiocy in front of thousands of Boy Scouts gathered at the Jamboree in West Virginia.

Where among other things, he mocked President Obama (who actually was a Boy Scout), babbled incoherently about his healthcare initiative and, remarkably, talked about a cocktail party he attended.

The BSA has, justifiably, found itself facing a huge backlash from current and former Scouters as well as members of the public outraged that Trump would use such an occasion to act like a narcissistic jackass in front of thousands of young men.

Of course, as we all know, Trump intentionally says such asinine things to deflect media attention from his son-in-law Jared Kushner testifying behind close doors in front of Senate staffers, as demonstrated by his latest Tweets attacking his own Attorney General for not investigating Hillary Clinton's emails.

Seriously, did he forget that she lost the election in 2016?

Trump is like an elephant rampaging through a crowded mall, only now the job of defending this kind of quasi-delusional behavior falls on the shoulders of The Mooch.

A controversial figure with no communications or political experience, climbing aboard a sinking ship where he is openly despised by top members of an already-divided White House where chaos is the norm, accomplishments are few and the shadow of investigations related to administration ties to the Russian government loom like one of those erie distorted figures in a Salvador Dali painting.

Can this train-wreck presidency possibly get any more surreal?


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