One of the more remarkable aspects of Anthony Scaramucci being let go as White House communications director Monday is the stated reasoning for it: He was too vulgar, and the White House — and the Trump women — couldn't have their good name attached to his potty mouth.
“Two sources close to President Donald Trump said Scaramucci's profane remarks last week to The New Yorker magazine 'disgusted' and 'offended' some close to the president, including Melania Trump, and — crucially — Ivanka Trump, who had initially advocated for Scaramucci's hiring,” NBC News reported.
The Washington Post's Robert Costa got a similar version of events from his sources:
sources also say POTUS & fam did not appreciate how A.S. comments linked them to vulgarity. Like to play rough but not be laughed at/embrsd
— Robert Costa (@costareports) July 31, 2017
And incoming White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also alluded to it at Monday's briefing: “Look, the president certainly felt that Anthony's comments were inappropriate for a person in that position, and he didn't want to burden Kelly, also, with that line of succession.”
Like Trump himself, this is pretty rich.
This is the White House, mind you, whose president was caught on tape years ago talking about grabbing women by their genitalia, adding “I did try and f--- her” and “I moved on her like a b----." As a candidate, Trump used vulgar words that we don't generally print, including one beginning with “P” for Ted Cruz. He promised to “bomb the s---" out of the Islamic State. He alluded to Megyn Kelly's menstrual cycle, and his use of the word “schlonged” was debatably vulgar. Trump's years of appearances on Howard Stern's show produced a volume of vulgar and sexually charged content.
And when the “Access Hollywood” tape came out in October, the Trump team and those around him had quite a different take on men talking in those terms. Melania Trump, who was reportedly offended and taken aback by Scaramucci's words, explained that her husband had been “egged on” into “boy talk.” Similarly, the campaign repeatedly referred to it as “locker-room talk.”
“The boys, the way they talk when they grow up and they want to sometimes show each other, 'Oh, this and that,' and talking about the girls,” Melania Trump said.
To be fair, Melania Trump also said Trump's words on that tape were inappropriate. But yet again, we seem to have an instance in which the Trump family and advisers seem to be aghast at something that shouldn't be all that unfamiliar to their delicate sensibilities.
In mid-June, Ivanka Trump complained in an interview about the “viciousness” of politics. “There’s a level of viciousness that I was not expecting,” she said. “I was not expecting the intensity of this experience.” A couple days prior, Eric Trump had said, “I've never seen hatred like this, and to me they're not even people.”
As I noted at the time, candidate Trump had himself set some kind of modern record for bare-knuckle political tactics. Here's the list:
- Called his chief opponents “Lyin' Ted,” “Crooked Hillary” and “Little Marco”
- Suggested “Lyin' Ted's” father may have taken part in the Kennedy assassination
- Said he would put “Crooked Hillary” in jail when elected president
- Seemed to allude to potential violence again and again and again
- Continued his years-long effort to question the legitimacy of President Barack Obama's U.S. birth and, by extension, his entire presidency
- Appeared to mock a reporter's physical handicap
- Suggested that a judge was inherently biased against him because of the judge's Mexican heritage
- Said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) wasn't a war hero because he was captured
It's perhaps normal to see the best in your own family and your political allies — to give the benefit of the doubt to those you love and know well in a way you wouldn't with an interloper like Scaramucci.
Huckabee Sanders also seemed to be drawing the line at somebody who is actually in the White House — as opposed to someone who aspired to it. A reported asked Monday: “Obviously, the president is not a stranger to salty language. Can you specify what exactly he found inappropriate or disturbing about that?” Sanders responded: “I said he found it inappropriate for a person in that position.”
The problem here, as with many things for Trump, is that he forfeited the moral high ground on this kind of thing a long time ago. That makes the White House's and these anonymous sources' reasoning for Scaramucci's firing look Pollyanna-ish, at best, and disingenuous at worst.