Thursday, August 03, 2017

Survival Is Not An Option In The Trump Administration

(Cartoon image is by Ben Garrison at

The revolving door in the Trump administration would be comedic if it were not so troubling in the effect it has on the chaos that reigns in the White House. Matt Taibbi has written a humorous and enlightening article for Rolling Stone on the non-existent job security in the Trump administration. It's well worth reading the whole article, but I give you just part of it below:

The body of former White House Director of Communications Anthony Scaramucci was discovered on the White House lawn Monday. Scaramucci's neatly-coiffed head, along with the mushier, more panicked capitulum of former chief of staff and freshly-resigned rival Reince Priebus, was found a short distance away, gored on the White House gates as a message to their replacements.

The heads – you're looking at the heads – are beginning to pile up in number. Donald Trump rose to fame as a TV star with his cruel punchline firings of hapless reality-show contestants. As chief executive of the world’s mightiest nuclear superpower, he has now spent most of his first term sowing panic around the world with an ever-tightening pattern of purges and forced resignations.

Like Soviet Commissars promoted during the Great Terror, Trump appointees begin composing their last words from the moment they ascend to high office. The fallen include an FBI Director (James Comey), an NSC Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs (Craig Deare, escorted off the White House grounds for criticizing Trump in off-the-record comments at the Woodrow Wilson Center), the first female White House usher (Angella Reid), a top Middle East adviser (Derek Harvey, a longtime intelligence official quietly whacked last week in what was seen as a message to Steve Bannon), an Acting Attorney General (Sally Yates), and a host of others.

There have been many resignations, a few of them perhaps truly voluntary – like Disney CEO Bob Iger and Tesla chief Elon Musk deciding to bounce from a White House Advisory Council after his Orangeness pulled out of the Paris Accords – but a great many others seem to have been "resigned."

Michael Flynn, Priebus, and former Priebus Deputy Katie Walsh come to mind here. The most public posts are the most perilous. The next White House Director of Communications will already be Trump's fourth – you may have forgotten about Mike Dubke, who served for 85 days from February through the end of May. That doesn't even factor in assistant press secretaries like Michael Short, who ate the cyanide pill in the form of a hastily written resignation text last week. . . .

The maelstrom of firings speaks to the peculiar chaos of the Trump White House. Basically, there is no successful formula for bureaucratic survival in this administration.

The twin killings of Scaramucci and Priebus tell the whole story. The two men represented opposite strategies for surviving Castle Trumpsylvania, and both turned out to be equally ineffective. 

Scaramucci committed the cardinal sin in the Trump White House, getting more press than the president. The kiss of death was probably a Breitbart article about his brief but colorful reign. "Move over President Donald Trump. You are yesterday's news," the piece said. "It seems like this is now The Anthony Scaramucci Show. And Trump better get used to it.". . .

The Scaramucci/Bannon rule seems to suggest that the best strategy for survival in the Trump White House is to lay low, keep your face off cable, and genuflect to His Highness as shamelessly and excessively as possible. No dice!

Priebus, a born bootlicker and capitulator whose spine was surgically removed years ago during his first term as RNC chairman, tried exactly this strategy, and ended up just as dead as Scaramucci. . . .

Some see in all these maneuverings an effort to purge GOP loyalists like Spicer and Priebus. Others see a Nixonian lunge to hire thugs in a crisis. This to me is all overthinking things. There is no strategy. This White House is just a succession of spasmodic Trump failures, with a growing line of people taking the fall for each of them. You can fall with honor, or without, entertainingly or not. But if you join this White House, fall you will. It's only a matter of time. 

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