There’s a telltale echo in the statement announcing the departure of now-former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci from his post after just 10 days. “Anthony Scaramucci will be leaving his role as White House Communications Director,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Monday. “Mr. Scaramucci felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team. We wish him all the best.”
Ha: That whole “clean slate” thing was the pretext issued by Sean Spicer — the dreadful White House press secretary who also periodically shouldered the responsibilities of communications director — when he cleared out of the White House to make room for Scaramucci. The president, said Spicer, could benefit from a “clean slate.”
The overlap raises one of two possibilities, as Ari Melber of MSNBC pointed out on Twitter:
WH statement says Scaramucci wants Kelly to have a "clean slate" – *same* term Spicer used for him.
Unoriginal writing or deliberate taunt?
— Ari Melber (@AriMelber) July 31, 2017
As with many things related to President Trump, neither scenario is rosy. Are Sanders & Co. really unaware that they’re birthing a brand new cliche? And if it is some kind of taunt, well, haven’t we seen enough of that sort of conduct of late?
My yes, we have. From Scaramucci himself, of course. Word is that new White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, who took over on Monday for the ousted Reince Priebus, felt that Scaramucci had “burned his credibility” and lacked “discipline.” Since when did those traits count as drawbacks in this White House? In any event, let’s kick off the speculation about what really undid the Mooch? Was it the quote to the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza about Stephen K. Bannon pleasuring himself (with an improbably flexible back)? Was it the quote to the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza about trolling Priebus? “Yeah, let me go, though, because I’ve gotta start tweeting some s— to make this guy crazy.” Was it the quote to the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza about how not identifying sources to a government official is unpatriotic?
Perhaps, though Axios’s Mike Allen reported that Trump “loved” those Mooch moments. A New York Times account indicated that the president had “quickly soured on the wisecracking, Long Island-bred former hedge fund manager, and so had his family.” Under any other U.S. president, such contradictory accounts would indicate that someone got it wrong. Not so with Trump, who has spent the better part of two years showing us how he can stake out both sides of just about any issue. Indeed, the New York Times account points out that after the president spoke with his family, Scaramucci’s Trump-approval rating started slogging southward. At a press briefing Monday afternoon, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump felt that Scaramucci’s comments were “inappropriate for a person in that position.”
The new sheriff in the house, Kelly, who had been running the Department of Homeland Security, is all about tight ships — and clean slates, of course. Yet there’s nothing clean about the slate that Kelly inherits. It has been sullied and poisoned and spat upon by aide after aide. Lies and easily checkable falsehoods have left the clearest marks, from Spicer’s initial claims about inaugural turnouts to the claims of the president — and subsequent dodges from his subordinates — about 3 million illegally cast ballots in the 2016 presidential election to the various and disjointed stories about short-lived national security adviser Michael Flynn to the claim that President Barack Obama surveilled Trump Tower to ridiculous and hyperbolic claims about the health-care system. Over 181 days, counted The Washington Post, Trump had aired 836 false and misleading claims.
In light of all that, there’ll be no clean slates at this White House, no matter how many people are pushed out the door.
People know it, too. Please raise your hand if you’d like to replace Anthony Scaramucci as the third White House communications director (Mike Dubke was the first, and he lasted about a few months). You’ll be reporting to Kelly, who rewards loyalty and killer discipline. You’ll also be reporting to Kelly’s own boss, who rewards loyalty, mendacity, caprice and excellent television ratings. Have fun toggling between those two supervisors.