President Trump’s week ended with the sudden departure of a speechwriter who had been accused of brutally attacking his wife, the president’s defense of another staffer who allegedly assaulted two ex-wives
.. The president learned at a very early age that what humiliates, damages, even destroys others can actually strengthen his image and therefore his bottom line.
.. The White House lets it be known that Kelly is in the doghouse. Yet the president himself goes out of his way to speak publicly in defense of the ousted aide, without so much as a nod toward what the women have suffered.
1) Always double down on your position.
Trump has regularly argued in favor of men on his side who’ve been accused of bad behavior against women, whether that was
- Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama;
- Fox News figures Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly; last week’s case du jour,
- Rob Porter; or
- Trump himself. He weathered the “Access Hollywood” tape that many of his aides thought would sink his campaign, and he successfully batted away
- allegations from more than a dozen women that he was guilty of sexual misconduct toward them.
Saturday morning, the president tripled down. “Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation,” he tweeted. “There is no recovery for someone falsely accused — life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”
2) The president must always be the focus of attention. Aides who get too big for their britches won’t be around for long.
.. Whether or not Kelly leaves, he has been knocked down several notches, especially in the public’s view. He’s been shown who’s boss, in case he had harbored any doubts.
Trump, contrary to the caricature he fostered on his reality TV show, “The Apprentice,” rarely excommunicates close aides forever. They almost all remain in his orbit even if he has publicly humiliated them or sent them off for a long vacation.
.. But they must always learn that those who attempt to grab some of the limelight will be dealt with.
.. When erstwhile chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon made the cover of Time — for Trump still a vital marker of making it big, even as the magazine’s influence has severely waned — he was done for, at least for now.
.. He learned in the 1970s from his mentor Roy Cohn that when you face criticism, justified or not, “you tell them to go to hell and fight the thing,” as Cohn said.
.. Trump instead leaned hard on the accelerator, ratcheting up his rhetoric, pressing for a convention lineup that doubled down on appealing to his base — Willie Robertson of “Duck Dynasty,” the chief of Ultimate Fighting Championship, music by Southern, white classic rock acts.
.. In the 1980s, Trump not only didn’t push back when tabloid newspapers turned the collapse of his first marriage into a daily soap opera; Trump actively participated in the scripting of the drama, calling gossip writers, dishing out salacious morsels almost by the hour.
.. “The show is Trump,” he said then, “and it is sold-out performances everywhere.”
.. Trump had discovered in painting oneself as the rich celebrity ordinary Americans aspire to be.
Obama called it “the unfounded optimism of the average American — ‘I may not be Donald Trump now, but just you wait; if I don’t make it, my children will.’ ”
.. he recognized that bad behavior and the notoriety it generated didn’t undermine that image. For many people, it actually enhanced it.
.. visionary business leaders succeed “because they are narcissists who devote their talent with unrelenting focus to achieving their dreams, even if it’s sometimes at the expense of those around them.”
Internet shaming spreads everywhere and lives forever. We need a way to fight it.
.. James Damore, the author of the notorious Google memo, has had his 15 minutes of fame. In six months, few of us will be able to remember his name. But Google will remember — not the company, but the search engine. For the rest of his life, every time he meets someone new or applies for a job, the first thing they will learn about him, and probably the only thing, is that he wrote a document that caused an internet uproar.
.. Try to imagine the Damore story happening 20 years ago. It’s nearly impossible, isn’t it? Take a company of similar scope and power to Google — Microsoft, say. Would any reporter in 1997 have cared that some Microsoft engineer she’d never heard of had written a memo his co-workers considered sexist?
.. Even if the reporter had cared, what editor would have run the story? On an executive, absolutely — but a random engineer who had no power over corporate policy? No one would have wasted precious, expensive column inches reporting it. And if for some reason they had, no other papers would have picked it up. Maybe the engineer would have been fired, maybe not, but he’d have gotten another job, having probably learned to be a little more careful about what he said to co-workers.
.. Rarely would someone’s notoriety follow them if they moved to another city.
.. Back then I saw Twitter as a tool for building social bonds. These days, I see it as a tool for social coercion.
.. Forager bands do not have or need police. They have social coercion so powerful that it is just as effective as a gun to the head. If people don’t like you, they might not take care of you when you’re injured, at which point, you’ll die. Or they won’t share food with you when your hunting doesn’t go well, at which point, you’ll die. Or they’ll shun you, at which point … you get the idea.
We now effectively live in a forager band filled with people we don’t know. It’s like the world’s biggest small town, replete with all the things that mid-century writers hated about small-town life: the constant gossip, the prying into your neighbor’s business, the small quarrels that blow up into lifelong feuds. We’ve replicated all of the worst features of those communities without any of the saving graces, like the mercy that one human being naturally offers another when you’re face to face and can see their suffering
.. Without the tempering instincts of intimate contact, without the ability to exit, it looks a lot more like brute, impersonal government coercion — the sort that the earliest and highest U.S. laws were written to restrain.
.. Given the way the internet is transforming private coercion, I’m not sure we can maintain the hard, bright line that classical liberalism drew between state coercion and private versions.
.. I find myself in more and more conversations that sound as if we’re living in one of the later-stage Communist regimes. Not the ones that shot people, but the ones that discovered you didn’t need to shoot dissidents, as long as you could make them pariahs — no job, no apartment, no one willing to be seen talking to them in public.
Mr. Trump asked Mr. Spicer to stay on as press secretary, reporting to Mr. Scaramucci. But Mr. Spicer rejected the offer, expressing his belief that
- Mr. Scaramucci’s hiring would add to the confusion and uncertainty already engulfing the White House,
according to two people with direct knowledge of the exchange.
- The president’s health care effort foundered in the Senate last week, and next week promises no respite, with his son
- Donald Trump Jr. and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, due to testify before Congress on questions about their contacts with Russia.
His rapport with the president establishes a new power center in a building already bristling with rivalry.
The president has no intention of changing his behavior — he merely believes his communications staff needs to defend him better — and Mr. Scaramucci even suggested his role would be to unshackle an already unfettered president.
.. “We have accomplished so much, and we are being given credit for so little,” he said. “The good news is the people get it, even if the media doesn’t.”
.. He had hoped to last a year as press secretary. He quit after six months and a day.
.. He attained a notoriety unusual for a presidential spokesman, his combative style spawning a caricature on “Saturday Night Live.”
.. The eventual appointment of Mr. Scaramucci was backed by the president’s daughter
- Mr. Kushner and the commerce secretary,
- Wilbur Ross
.. Mr. Kushner has grown increasingly critical of both Mr. Spicer and Mr. Priebus, whom he regards as party establishment figures who operate out of self-interest.
.. Mr. Priebus and Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, both strongly opposed the appointment of Mr. Scaramucci — in large part because he enjoys an easy banter and direct line to Mr. Trump, potentially threatening their positions
Mr. Trump, aggravated by their opposition, dressed the pair down in a testy Oval Office exchange around the time he decided to offer Mr. Scaramucci — known in Trump’s circle as “The Mooch” — the job.
.. one of the reasons he hired Mr. Scaramucci was to cut down on anonymous leaking — and took a swipe at his two advisers.
.. He asked them how the leaks were happening, according to a person familiar with the discussions, and called Mr. Spicer a “good guy” who leaks only when told to by Mr. Priebus.
.. He is said to be especially high on Sebastian Gorka, a blustery foreign policy official who has been accused of having ties to far-right groups in Europe.
.. Mr. Priebus urged Mr. Trump to hire Mr. Spicer and another lieutenant, Katie Walsh, as deputy chief of staff. But Ms. Walsh left the White House after a short time when Mr. Kushner and other West Wing officials forced her out
.. In recent weeks, Mr. Trump had told people that Mr. Spicer was no longer “tough,” one of the harshest insults he can level
.. Mr. Spicer told friends he was tired of being blindsided by Mr. Trump, and weary of Mr. Trump’s constant criticism.
.. He instituted the highly contentious practice of holding off-camera briefings, less so to snub reporters than to avoid Mr. Trump’s critiques of his performance