Friday, July 28, 2017


News from The Hill:
President Trump has said privately that he wants to appoint "a general" to replace White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, The New York Times reports.

The president, the Times reported on Thursday, has so far focused on Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly as a potential replacement....
An ABC story lists Kelly among ten people Trump is considering to replace Priebus. In addition to Kelly, there's another general:
Retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg: Currently the chief of staff and executive secretary for the National Security Council, Kellogg already spends a lot of time around the president. He was also an important adviser to the president during the campaign and one of the first senior military officers to endorse Trump. He has earned the trust of a president who likes to be in the company of generals.
Yes, Trump "likes to be in the company of generals." As Jeet Heer of The New Republic notes, Trump also likes to be in the company of New York-area douchebags such as Anthony Scaramucci:
The New York douchebag thrives throughout the tri-state area, particularly in New Jersey and the outer boroughs of the city proper. Usually white, he is belligerent, garrulous, ruthlessly competitive, and excessively confident in his persuasive abilities. He is also hypersensitive; the smallest perceived slight will trigger a full-scale defense of his pride. He demands to be respected at all times.

To the extent that the New York douchebag has politics, he tends to be a fiscal, hawkish conservative: reliably Republican, in other words, but only socially religious (if at all). He believes in his right to make loads of money without paying much taxes, advocates manly military responses to defend the pride of the U-S-A, but doesn’t want to ban abortion or roll back gay rights. Indeed, he will defend those rights if the issue affects a family member, for he professes to value blood relatives above all else.

Trump is the quintessential New York douchebag.

... Trump is clearly happiest in the company of his fellow tri-state douchebags. During the campaign, he spent a great deal of time around figures like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, two exemplars of the species....

Now that Scaramucci is in the White House, Trump has a fellow douchebag he can commune with.
Indeed, we learn from Mike Allen at Axios that Trump enjoyed Scaramucci's New Yorker tirade:
... at the moment, Scaramucci is empowered: We're told the President loved the Mooch quotes. But President Trump doesn't like being upstaged. "Mini-me" can't forget the "Mini" part.
Don't upstage the Douchebag in Chief, but otherwise, be as much of a douchebag as you like.

All this has me thinking about the famous column Stewart Alsop wrote during Watergate: "The Phony-Tough Meet the Crazy-Brave." Alsop's description of the phony-tough would seem to apply to Trump and many of the foul-mouthed people who've worked for him, including Scaramucci:

It was Alsop's theory that the phony-toughs in the Nixon White House had a mancrush on G. Gordon Liddy because he was crazy-brave, and thus they let him run amok.

But Trump doesn't seem to be bringing any Liddys into his administration. He seems to think the phony-tough guys he knows are crazy-brave. Most of these phony-toughs are white-collar pseudo-thugs -- foul-mouthed lawyers and moneymen. As for the generals, Trump may have mancrushes on them, but he doesn't seem to relate to them on a visceral level. He has an eight-year-old boy's admiration for their bravery, and an eight-year-old boy's understanding of it. The generals are sane-brave. Trump seeks out craziness in the phony-toughs he thinks are real toughs.

Trump's preferred business partners, especially those of the Slavic persuasion, should probably be part of this discussion. But a full picture of Trump's relations with those folks will probably require a large number of subpoenas. So I'll leave it at this.

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