Scott Reid is an owner-principal at Feschuk Reid and was the Director of Communications to former Prime Minister Paul Martin
Donald Trump is going to the mattresses.
The hiring of the immodest, inexperienced and uncompromising Wall Street money man Anthony Scaramucci as White House director of communications means one thing, and one thing only: Donald Trump is going to war.
He's going to war against special counsel Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation. He's going to war against the so-called "fake news," "lame-stream" media who have the nerve to report Mr. Trump's troubles and systematically conceal his many soaring triumphs. He's going to war against the FBI, the Department of Justice, his own Attorney and Deputy Attorney General. He's going to war with his critics and his Twitter trolls. With the very idea of objective truth, the American system of checks and balances and any plane of existence that fails to conform to the self-aggrandizing, pocket-lining, gravity-defying orgy of fantasticalism that is the Oval Office as long as Mr. Trump occupies it.
And just like Tom Hagen, Sean Spicer has learned that, in times of war, leaders only make room for hardcore loyalists.
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Mr. Scaramucci is in his new post not because he will offer superior counsel or elevated strategic skills. He is not in because he will better manage a frothing, manic press gallery. Or shape a stronger, more coherent defence of Mr. Trump's agenda.
He is in because he will fight to his last breath – without question or contest and without quarrel or quit. He will fight dirty and he will fight desperately. He will use his hands and his feet and his teeth and his elbows and the nearest, sharpest thing he can find. Best of all, he will fight on command. He will not argue with the boss. He will not tell the President what he doesn't want to hear – that is, that Mr. Trump should keep his mouth shut and phone locked. Mr. Scaramucci will tell Mr. Trump to go and go hard. He will encourage aggression in all its forms, at all times and directed against all comers.
And that's the kind of communications director the President wants.
To a certain degree, it's the kind of communications director they all want – all presidents and prime ministers. None of them truly love the media. They all feel that they're given the business by these know-it-alls. And they want their communications staff to set journalists right and convince reporters to write nothing but praise. But most leaders know that they must be sheltered from their own instincts. They know that the media exist – whether they're friendly or not – to serve a publicly interested function. And so responsible and right-thinking leaders hire communications staff who can establish professional relations, shape a professional narrative and, when needed, offer professional push back to the big boss.
Mr. Trump is interested in none of that – as we know from his New York Times rant against Jeff Sessions' decision to recuse. Whether it's just plain narcissism or knowledge of what Mr. Mueller might one day find, the President has no desire to operate according to accepted norms. He wants to attack and undermine the Russian probe, including those who so enthusiastically report on the subject. He wants war and so he has purchased himself a man who brandishes a bayonet.
By conventional standards, Mr. Scaramucci is unqualified for the position. By Trump's standards, his resume is unmatched. Two months ago, Mr. Scaramucci was the subject of a CNN report that the network was not only forced to retract but which became so discounted that three journalists were let go. To Mr. Trump, there could be no finer set of credentials – a consigliere with kills to his credit.
In the aftermath of his resignation it will be tempting to treat Mr. Spicer with pity and understanding, to view him as a principled dissenter. That impulse should be rejected. Mr. Spicer's mistake was not that he had too much integrity for the position he held. It was that he had too little. He had too little integrity to turn down a job that he knew – because as a professional he had to have known – would require him to debase himself routinely. A job that would have him lie to the country on his first full day with penis-envy preposterousness about the size of Mr. Trump's inaugural audience. After that, it was just a variation on a failed, illegitimate theme.
The Scaramucci era will offer none of Mr. Spicer's failed pretense. It is only a matter of time until Mr. Mueller is fired and this drama enters its third act – which promises more twists, betrayals and indignity. Don't be shocked that Mr. Trump has hired a new communications director without professional experience. No one with professional experience would be willing to do the job that's coming.