Sinister figures lurk around our careless president

With eyes wide open, Mike Pence eagerly auditioned for the role as Donald Trump’s poodle. Now comfortably leashed, he deserves the degradations that he seems too sycophantic to recognize as such. He did Trump’s adolescent bidding with last Sunday’s preplanned virtue pageant of scripted indignation — his flight from the predictable sight of players kneeling during the national anthem

.. No unblinkered observer can still cling to the hope that Pence has the inclination, never mind the capacity, to restrain, never mind educate, the man who elevated him to his current glory.

.. no one can have sustained transactions with Trump without becoming too soiled for subsequent scrubbing.

.. Hell is truth seen too late

.. instinct to pander to those who adore him as much as he does

.. they are impervious to the Everest of evidence that he disdains them as a basket of gullibles.

.. He gives his gullibles not governance by tantrum, but tantrum as governance.

.. The faux nationalists of the “alt-right” and their fellow travelers such as Stephen K. Bannon, although fixated on protecting the United States from imported goods, have imported the blood-and-soil ethno-tribalism that stains the continental European right.

.. Trump’s election has brought back to the public stage ideas that a post-Lincoln America had slowly but determinedly expunged.

.. the alt-right sees society as inevitably “a zero-sum contest among fundamentally competing identity groups.” Hence the alt-right is explicitly an alternative to Lincoln’s affirmation of the Founders’ vision. They saw America as cohesive because of a shared creed.



This Is Not the Mooch I Know

But the Anthony Scaramucci I know and admire was not the Anthony Scaramucci who stepped up to the lectern in the White House briefing room on Friday afternoon. Dressed to the nines in a navy blue power suit, he was sycophantic. He professed his “love” for Mr. Trump over and over again — six times, by one count. It was painful and embarrassing to watch.

His blind ambition was on further display on the Sunday morning talk shows. He pledged to rout out White House leakers and threatened to fire anyone on the communications staff who doesn’t get with the program. At times, he seemed to be speaking only to Mr. Trump. “I’m going to be working for you,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “And I’m going to serve the American people. And we’re going to get your agenda out into the heartland, where it belongs.”

.. In a further paean to his new boss, Anthony is furiously deleting his past tweets, in a sad attempt to airbrush away his enthusiasm for bipartisanship.

Full transparency: I’m deleting old tweets. Past views evolved & shouldn’t be a distraction. I serve agenda & that’s all that matters

 .. Say what you want about President Trump, he succeeds wildly at diminishing those who come in direct contact with him. It’s a phenomenon that was articulated beautifully by Thomas Ricks, the Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, in a June appearance on MSNBC when he said that Mr. Trump is “very good at borrowing other people’s credibility.” Specifically, he worried that the president had “strip-mined” the credibility of his friend, H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser.
.. I share Mr. Ricks’s concern for my friend Anthony Scaramucci, a good man who is rapidly being tarnished by his proximity to Mr. Trump. I get that an important part of Anthony’s new job is to be loyal to the president and to his agenda. But in the name of decency and self-preservation, he should really curb his enthusiasm. And he’d do well to keep in mind what one of his heroes, Warren Buffett, likes to say: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

We’ll Miss You, Sean Spicer

Today, after 183 days, 58 news conferences, one perfect “Saturday Night Live” skewering, and countless packs of stress gum, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, has resigned. But first, he slammed the door in an ABC News reporter’s face.

.. Unlike others in the Trump administration, Mr. Spicer would occasionally flirt with being a sympathetic figure.

.. His tired eyes would telegraph distress signals to the television cameras: Help me. I’m sad. Please stop picking on me; this is actually hurtful. I thought the suit looked good. Donald is mean.

.. Without Mr. Spicer, who will lie to the public? Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who has all the sparkle and charm of the airline call center employee who tells you there’s no way you can get on a flight to Chicago until at least Wednesday?

..  None of them could possibly convey the combination of chutzpah and shame Mr. Spicer embodied.