July, 2017

Can Kelly Pull the White House Together?

Associated Press: “Much of his success will depend on factors outside his control, including whether Trump’s squabbling staff is willing to put aside the rivalries that have sowed disorder in the West Wing and complicated any efforts to enact policy. But no question looms larger than this: Can Kelly do what Priebus couldn’t? Can he curb the president’s own penchant for drama and unpredictability, and his tendency to focus more on settling scores than promoting a policy agenda?”

“No other aide or adviser has been successful on that front. As a candidate — and now as president — Trump has cycled through a cast of campaign chiefs and political advisers but has remained easily distracted by his personal interests and only loosely tethered to any policy plans.”

Quote of the Day

“Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over? Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody — don’t hit their head! I said: ‘You can take the hand away, OK?’ (Laughter and applause.)”

— President Trump, speaking to law enforcement officials in New York.

Trump Once Asked Priebus to Kill a Fly

This is quite the anecdote from the Washington Post:

Trump’s demeaning of Priebus came through in other ways, too. At one point, during a meeting in the Oval Office, a fly began buzzing overhead, distracting the president. As the fly continued to circle, Trump summoned his chief of staff and tasked him with killing the insect, according to someone familiar with the incident.

What’s Really Shocking Is the Health Bill Nearly Passed

Michael Grunwald: “Forty-nine Republican senators voted for legislation that many of them admitted was substantively flawed and procedurally absurd—legislation that only 17 percent of the public supported and every major medical interest group opposed; that had been shredded by a bipartisan coalition of governors, the Congressional Budget Office and their own hand-picked parliamentarian.”

“After Trump promised to expand coverage, lower costs and block any cuts to Medicaid, he almost got to sign a bill that the CBO warned would do exactly the opposite, leading to a massive expansion of the insured rolls, higher premiums and deductibles for the old and the sick, and hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of Medicaid cuts.”

“After attacking Democrats for ramming Obamacare into law with only 60 votes after insufficient hearings, insufficient bipartisan outreach, and insufficient transparency, Republican senators nearly passed Trumpcare with only 50 votes after no hearings, no bipartisan outreach, and so little transparency that even most of them had no idea what would be in it until a few hours before their middle-of-the-night roll call.”

Priebus Wasn’t Acting Like He Resigned Yesterday

Jonathan Swan: “Reince Priebus told CNN he resigned on Thursday. If that’s true, today he sure wasn’t acting like someone who had quit, according to sources with direct knowledge.”

“Priebus was seeing subtle assurances from colleagues about his future, accompanied Trump on Air Force One to New York, and was telling colleagues that the president didn’t like Mooch’s comments to the New Yorker and saying that he was going to work hard and keep his head down during the current turmoil.”

Trump Moves Further Away from the GOP Establishment

President Trump fired Reince Priebus as his chief of staff, “a move that completes a purge of Washington insiders from Trump’s inner circle and virtually ensures an even harder turn into his outsider rhetoric and approach,” CNN reports.

“The Priebus firing proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Trump’s attempts to merge his New York and family worlds with the staider environment of official Washington had failed miserably — and that he has clearly sided with those urging him to be more himself over those who had hoped to bend him somewhat to the ways of the nation’s capital.”

Washington Post: “With every staff move, Trump seems to be moving ever further away from the Republican establishment and building a much more insular team that fits his narrow worldview. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Priebus-Kelly switch.”

Why Anthony Scaramucci Hates Reince Priebus

The HuffPost has the details:

While preparing for his move into government, Scaramucci struck a deal — which is still under regulatory scrutiny — to sell his stake in his hedge fund, SkyBridge Capital, to Chinese conglomerate HNA Group and another company. He assumed that he’d be put in charge of the public liaison office, a job that Valerie Jarrett held in the Obama administration. He had it all mapped out, according to the White House adviser. He identified 2,500 influential business leaders across the United States and had come up with a clever name for them: Trump Team 2,500. He believed these people would help pressure Congress into supporting the president’s agenda.

But Scaramucci’s plans were foiled in early January. That’s when Priebus, according to a confidant of both Scaramucci and the president, told Trump, “He played you.”

A Week of Reckoning?

Andrew Sullivan: “We have become, at this point, inured to having an irrational president in an increasingly post-rational America. We’ve also come to tell ourselves that somehow (a) this isn’t really happening, (b) by some miracle, it will be over soon, or (c) at some point the Republican Party will have to acknowledge what they are abetting, and cut their losses. And yet with each particular breach of decency, stability, and constitutionality, no breaking point seems to have arrived, even as the tribalism has deepened, the president’s madness has metastasized, and the norms of liberal democracy are hanging on by a thread.”

“But surely this week must mark some kind of moment in this vertiginous descent, some point at which the manifest unfitness of this president to continue in office becomes impossible to deny.”

Scaramucci’s Self Help Books Are All Self and No Help

Daily Beast: “In addition to being the White House Communications Director, a hedge fund manager, a conference-thrower, a Harvard Law graduate, a Fox Business talking head, a Goldman Sachs alum, and a fancy gesticulator, Scaramucci is the author of three self-help books. You might say he wears many hats, if the hats weren’t so guaranteed to mess up his architectural hair.”

“Scaramucci’s writings are the sort of tepid airport business reads that are so aggressively meaningless and derivative that they make the reader worse at writing, and possibly worse at thinking. They invoke the feeling of being in an apartment that has been occupied by the same tenant for a year but remains decorated only with a Scarface poster over a lumpy black futon. But a perusal of two of his three published works gives an amusing look into what sort of person Scaramucci would like people to think that he is.”