But who’s laughing now? Upon exiting his job he apparently had his pick of posh lecture-circuit agents, one of whom told Mike Allen of Axios that Spicer scoffed at the suggestion that he might be worth only $20,000 to $30,000 per speech, which is what other former press secretaries made.
.. Ask Anthony Scaramucci. He was sent packing after just 10 profane and ignominious days as the White House communications director, and what do you suppose he did? Change his name and enter the political equivalent of witness protection? Retreat to a monastery for prayerful atonement until the shame dissipated?
.. For decades, it has been customary for the former attendants of presidents and presidential candidates to cash in. The Clintons were a money train with no shortage of passengers, and Bill and Hillary themselves never shrank from turning political pain into financial gain. She’ll mint fresh millions from her new book, “What Happened,” and from engagements to promote it.
.. They weren’t idealists in grateful thrall to some coherent vision or exalted principles that he was advancing. They were more or less flunkies for a bully whose top priorities have always been an immense fortune and immeasurable celebrity, though not necessarily in that order. Spicer and Scaramucci are paying their onetime boss the highest of compliments. They’re emulating him... Mike Flynn .. He’s weighed down by actual scandal, while Spicer and Scaramucci are weighed down only by their volitional debasement, and that’s apparently no drag at all... The ethos of enrichment in this administration starts at the very top, with Trump and his family, for whom the presidency represents the ultimate branding opportunity... This separates Trump from his predecessors, none of whom had or held onto the array of business interests that remain in his possession, managed by his flesh and blood. And he’s hardly shy about advertising that empire. He and members of his cabinet swan and sup at the Trump International Hotel in Washington whose earnings since his inauguration have handily exceeded expectations... Of course the initiation fee to join Mar-a-Loco doubled shortly after his election, to $200,000.. To judge by what has happened in only its first seven and a half months, the office’s degradations under Trump may well include its commercialization beyond anything seen before... And the marketability of the Trump clan and those around them proves anew that visibility and notoriety are their own rewards, regardless of how they come about.. No matter what people thought of him, they wanted to ogle him, and he’ll be merrily monetizing that for some time to come.
So will Spicer, who at least had the good sense to turn down an offer from “Dancing With the Stars,” which is more than Energy Secretary Rick Perry can say.
.. “His name ID is massive,” said the speaking agent who talked with Mike Allen, referring to Spicer. “He’s obsessed with that.”
.. Spicer bragged to Allen about how his White House press briefings had been nightly prime-time viewing in parts of Europe. “I’m one of the most popular guys in Ireland,” he crowed.
.. So what if he trashed his previous reputation as a reasonably straight shooter? Who cares if he spread the lies of a serial fabulist? That’s entertainment! And it’s lucrative.
I hope he goes on to make a tremendous amount of money,” Scaramucci told reporters as Spicer left the White House. What a poignant farewell. And what a perfect tell.
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
Where Ms. Sanders tends to the dry and sardonic, Mr. Scaramucci is over the top.
.. The uneasy alliance between Mr. Scaramucci and Ms. Sanders will help determine the fate of Mr. Trump’s efforts to reboot his message and survive amid the escalating scandals engulfing his presidency.
The pair represent the competing power centers still vying inside Mr. Trump’s West Wing:
- Ms. Sanders, the Southern-drawling, workmanlike political operative installed by Mr. Priebus; and
- Mr. Scaramucci, the gregarious New York hedge fund manager who has grown close with the Trump family and is new to politics.
.. Telegenic and smooth-talking, he was an eager face of the Trump campaign on television and in the halls of Trump Tower, bringing a brash style and disarming humor to his tussles with reporters.
.. A mother of three young children whom she often mentions in tense moments in the White House briefing room, she inherited her father’s folksy style, his Christian conservatism and his biting sarcasm.
“If you want to see chaos,” she told a reporter on Friday, when asked about the West Wing turmoil, “you should come to my house early in the morning, when my three kids are running around. That’s chaos; this is nothing.”
.. there’s a New York-versus-Washington dichotomy here, New York is winning
.. it was left to Mr. Scaramucci, not the president, to announce that Ms. Sanders would be his new press secretary. The slight did not go unnoticed by veteran communicators, who said it could undercut her at the outset.
.. “It would have been appropriate for him to announce Sarah,” said Ari Fleischer, who served as press secretary for President George W. Bush. “It empowers her, it sends the message that the president appointed her, he’s standing next to her, and that signal was not there.”
.. While Mr. Trump all but invented the “fake news” moniker himself, some of his advisers, including Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, have told him that he cannot afford to have a spokeswoman who has such a poisonous relationship with reporters. That was one of the reasons that Mr. Scaramucci was brought on.
.. “He’s very slick and smooth,” said Jennifer Palmieri, another of Mr. Obama’s communications directors. “This removes any ruse that this is a White House that will operate under the transparent standard we expect for a democracy. Instead, it will operate like a country with ministers of propaganda, not press secretaries.”
.. “If the president thinks he’s surrounded by good people fighting for him, defending him and doing a really good job at it, then the president won’t feel the need to push boundaries himself and make the mistakes that he’s made on Twitter,” Mr. Fleischer said.
.. Mr. Scaramucci wished Mr. Spicer well in a distinctly New York style.
“I love the guy,” he said. “And I hope he goes on to make a tremendous amount of money.”
It’s easy to see why Sarah Huckabee Sanders wants the TV cameras off during her White House news briefings.
.. But above all is a more simple explanation: Sanders has no earthly idea what’s going on in the White House she purports to represent... The humiliations that ruined Sean Spicer will do the same to Sanders or whoever fills the role. Trump doesn’t seem to tell his people what he’s doing, if he knows himself. ABC News’s Jon Karl published a list last month of 26 times Sanders and Spicer said they would “get back to you” but never did. There are, surely, many more... She brought out Marc Short, Trump’s legislative director, to deliver a diversionary statement about Democrats’ “needless obstruction” of Trump’s nominees. But the distraction failed when half a dozen reporters used the opportunity to quiz Short about the floundering effort in the Senate to pass Trumpcare... Then came a barrage of questions about Donald Jr.’s newly reported meeting with the Russians, which negated, as CBS’s Major Garrett noted, the White House’s “long history of blanket denials” that there had been campaign contacts with the Russians... “There was simply no collusion,” she said, eyebrow cocked and lip corner raised.“That’s a different question,” Garrett pointed out.
.. She also declined to echo Trump’s tweeted suggestion Monday morning that former FBI director James Comey had leaked classified information — which means he would have perjured himself when he said he didn’t. “Uh, I think there are a lot of questions out there and a lot of reports,” Sanders demurred.
.. In fairness to Sanders, there are no good answers to these questions. Trump, with his reckless tweets and nonsense claims, leaves his mouthpieces in an impossible position. No less an authority than former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee said after Trump’s vulgar tweet about Mika Brzezinski that “he makes my daughter’s job very difficult.”
But that’s no excuse. Sanders has agreed to interpret the nonsensical and to rationalize the indefensible. Like Spicer, she will fail.