Politics

The Scaramucci Epoch

Remembering Trump’s communications director, who was somehow more Trumpish than Trump himself.

Ex White house Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci
New/future ex–White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci blows a kiss to reporters after the daily briefing at the White House in Washington on July 21.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Donald Trump’s communications director was Trumpism distilled, so pure a concentrate of wocka-wocka salesmanship and aggro preening that the West Wing could contain him for only so long. If Hesiod stipulated a Heroic Age of Man, Anthony Scaramucci belonged to and shaped the Heroic Age of Trump—that halcyon 10-day period when the White House achieved a level of maximalist ridiculousness that even a president who brags to Boy Scouts about sex yachts could never hope to attain on his own.

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Stomping around screaming profanities at journalists, threatening to fire people right and left, the Mooch embodied the president’s spirit better than the president himself ever has. Behold his greatest hits: comparing the repeal of Obamacare to the banning of slavery; abandoning his wife in childbirth so he could touch the hem of the POTUS’ garment; positing that Trump’s claim that millions had voted illegally was likely correct because the commander in chief himself had articulated it.

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Mooch burst onto the scene with stratospheric, imperial levels of confidence. He promised his boss (and us) he’d get the Good Ship White House sailing smoothly, powering the heretofore sinking vessel with his own deep reserves of charm and ingenuity. Where his timid predecessors hid among bushes, he verily somersaulted to the podium. But no more than a few days passed before Scaramucci revealed his congenital tendency to say one thing and do the exact opposite. For the sake of “transparency,” he vowed, he would delete his old tweets. And for the sake of efficiency, he would get himself canned in less than two weeks. Why delay the inevitable?

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Scaramucci was supposed to rescue a foundering operation. Instead, he was the fireman who strode up to a five-alarm conflagration and unleashed a hose full of gasoline. Last week, after less than seven days on the job, Scaramucci called up the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza and disgorged a stream of on-the-record invective against his main rival, then–White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Scaramucci told Lizza he believed Priebus had been leaking his financial documents and dinner plans to the press. “The swamp will not defeat him,” Scaramucci said, referring to himself in the third person, as men who thrill to the sound of their voices often do. He continued, “I’ve done nothing wrong on my financial disclosures, so they’re going to have to go fuck themselves.” And on the theme of loving oneself, he tossed in this throwaway line about another senior adviser: “I’m not Steve Bannon. I’m not trying to suck my own cock.”

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For the last six months, a small army of anonymous sources have fed us tales of rivalries and intrigues and power struggles. And then, 10 days ago, Anthony Scaramucci showed up on the front porch of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., turned on a megaphone, and started shouting about leaks and cocks. Before the Scaramucci era, we knew the White House was a grimy, savage den of distemper backbiting. During the Scaramucci epoch—nasty, brutish, and short—we got to see the shape of those bite marks and whose teeth had clamped down where. And now that the Days of Scaramucci have expired, we’ll long for those almost two weeks when this perfect symbol of self-obsession and self-defeat briefly yanked the Oval Office’s golden curtains open.

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