Saturday, July 29, 2017

Don't Shed Any Tears for Reince Priebus

Long before his ignominious firing by Der  Trumpenführer, Reince Priebus had come to embody for me the extremist cancer and moral bankruptcy that has metastasized in the Republican Party.  While RNC chairman, Priebus demonstrated that no lie and no amount of dissembling was too foul to pass from his lips.  The man would do and say anything to further his own interests and the malignant agenda of today's GOP.  When he accepted the chief of staff position in Der  Trumpenführer, he signaled that his moral bankruptcy was complete.  He was only too willing to lie for and prostitute himself to a vulgar, malignant narcissist utterly unfit for the office of the presidency.  Thus, Priebus deserves not one shred of sympathy. When you get in bed with someone utterly toxic and and amoral, you deserve what you get.  A piece in Politico looks at Priebus's fall while one in the New Yorker looks at what may lie ahead with the arrival of Trump's "mini me," Anthony Scaramucci, at the West Wing.  First these highlights from Politico:
Reince Priebus spent his last day as White House chief of staff like nothing was out of the ordinary. . . . By 4:49 p.m., it was over. “I am pleased to inform you that I have just named General/Secretary John F Kelly as White House Chief of Staff,” Trump tweeted from the tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base, where Priebus still sat waiting in a black SUV. Other aides riding with him hopped into a different car once the tweet posted. His SUV separated from the motorcade and went on a rainy ride through Washington alone.
Priebus, in an interview on CNN Friday evening, tried to downplay his tensions with Trump, while saying it was his decision to resign.
It was an ignominious close to an operatic six months during which Priebus was sidelined from the outset, first by chief strategist Steve Bannon, then by Trump’s children and finally by Anthony Scaramucci, whose arrival last week as communications director heralded the imminent end of Priebus’ tenure.
But finally it was the absence of progress on Trump’s legislative agenda—health care, taxes, infrastructure—that prompted the president, in consultation with his family, to finally tell people around him it was time “to try a different approach,” said one senior administration official.
“It’s hard to overstate how much the family had to do with this,” this person added. After Scaramucci shredded Priebus in a vulgar rant to the New Yorker, published Thursday just as the health care debate was coming to its fruitless end, Priebus expressed his frustrations inside the White House. But the president took Scaramucci’s side—and Spicer’s successor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, went on television to excuse the comments.

As for what Scaramucci's arrival may foretell (none of it good), here are excerpts from the New Yorker:
The Mooch is a man in a hurry. But while he looks to most like someone racing into a wall, he is, to his patron, doing precisely what is required.
Within moments of arrival, Scaramucci was declaring his everlasting fealty to the President (“I love the President”), erasing the digital evidence of his previous contempt for the President (“an inherited money dude from Queens County”), and comparing his relationship with Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, to that of Cain and Abel, the killer and the killed. And then, the other night, he called Ryan Lizza, of The New Yorker. First, Scaramucci tried in vain to unearth the source who revealed that he had dined at the White House, and wrongly presumed it was Priebus. He then went on an obscene tirade about Priebus’s mental stability, Steve Bannon’s dorsal flexibility, and, most alarming of all, his intention to “fucking kill all the leakers” by employing the capacities, human and technological, of the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The reaction to all this was predictable. It roiled, yet again, the sense of vertigo that has accompanied the Trump era. And there were laughs all around, can-you-top-this jokes on Twitter, gleeful one-liners on late-night television, grave pronouncements on the morning shows. And yet the reaction that matters most was that of Scaramucci’s patron, the President of the United States. Mike Allen, the co-founder of the Web site Axios, wrote, “We’re told the President loved the Mooch quotes.”
Of course he did. After all, Scaramucci was, in language and in manner, channelling Trump himself. What about Scaramucci’s rant could possibly have offended Trump’s sense of propriety, dignity, or politics? As so many audiotapes, tweets, interviews, and speeches have made clear, Trump has no compunction about treating people, even his most self-abnegating loyalists, as vassals; he speaks in the language of obscenity and contempt.
Scaramucci, who was endorsed by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, seems to have been installed to carry out Trump’s form of personnel management—to help demean and get rid of retainers who have proved disappointing or threatening to his interests. Sean Spicer. Reince Priebus. Steve Bannon. Jeff Sessions. And, ultimately, Robert Mueller.
In other words, the Mooch matters because the Mooch helps to clarify what matters most to the President and his family. What matters most is Trump’s grip on his base voters and his survival in office. Everything else—a sane health-care policy, the dignity of the transgender people who have volunteered to serve their country, a rational environmental policy, a foreign policy that serves basic democratic values, rule of law—is of tertiary interest.
Trump’s focus is not impossible to divine. He is increasingly anxious that Mueller and congressional investigators are exploring the details of his business transactions and financial holdings, and how they might have exposed him to being targeted by the Russian government.
In the meantime, Trump’s capacity to demean and diminish everyone in his proximity continues apace.
Scaramucci matters because he has divined what Donald Trump wants, and he is speaking in his language. Last night, John McCain and many others refused to be cowed or intimidated. They acted in favor of the most elemental notion of rationality and principle. Who else will follow?

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