White House Communications Director Anthony “The Mooch!” Scaramucci lasted all of ten thrilling days. In an ironic turn, it was Scaramucci’s victory in forcing the resignation of White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus that ultimately undid him. After all, it was Priebus’ successor, Gen. John Kelly, that sent The Mooch! packing.
The short tenure of The Mooch! will be most remembered for that ill-advised, but sort of hilarious, profanity-laced tirade against White House colleagues Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon published by New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza. President Trump was reportedly thrilled by the unvarnished combative style of his new communications director at first, but soon grew irritated as the fallout from the New Yorker article settled.
So, when new Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly made full authority to hire and fire staff a condition of taking the job, Trump — likely knowing what that meant for the Mooch! — didn’t object. At 9:30 am Monday morning, The Mooch! was served his walking papers. The statement from White House was short and to the point: “Anthony Scaramucci will be leaving his role as White House Communications Director,” the White House said. “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 the best.”
Yet, in the greater scheme of things, the legacy of Scaramucci’s short stent in the West Wing may not be that jaw-dropping interview, but his role as catalyst for the ascendance of Gen. John Kelly from Secretary of Homeland Security to White House Chief of Staff.
Reince Priebus may have been a fine chief of staff under different circumstances, but in this situation it was clear to the President’s supporters and detractors alike that things weren’t working. The West Wing has been mired in toxic, back-biting chaos for months. Whose fault it is doesn’t matter — it’s the chief of staff’s responsibility. Trump’s detractors and Priebus’ supporters argue that the chaos starts at the top and no chief of staff can tame it. But, Gen. Kelly will have as good a chance as anyone. His prudent move to end The Mooch! episode quickly is an early, promising, sign that Gen. Kelly can impose order on the President’s unruly entourage
President Trump likes generals. His cabinet is full of them. Gen. Mattis and Kelly are just the sort of tough as nails military officers that President Trump respects and to whom he is willing to defer.
The Mooch! will be most mourned by comedy writers and Twitter wits, who found a rich target in the cartoonish character of Anthony Scaramucci. Still, his departure may be the first indication that Kelly could bring the kind of professionalism and direction to the West Wing that has been sorely lacking. And for that, we will gladly trade all the jokes to which we were so looking forward.