Political News

Scaramucci firing suggests John Kelly may be more of the boss than we thought

Posted July 31

In one of his first acts as White House chief of staff, John Kelly pushed out the newly minted communications director Anthony Scaramucci, a stunning move that suggests the new boss has wider leeway than many people thought when President Trump announced his hiring late Friday.

Scaramucci spent less than two weeks in his post, a stunningly short period of time by any measure of presidential staff tenures. Even in that short time, he repeatedly made waves -- none larger than an expletive-laden phone call with The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza last week in which The Mooch, as he referred to himself, cursed out then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and used an acrobatic vulgarity to describe how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon spends his free time.

When Priebus was fired less than 48 hours after Scaramucci's rant, it appeared to be a signal that Trump had chosen the brash Scaramucci over the more-reserved Priebus. Scaramucci was, after all, a personal friend of Trump and his family -- not to mention someone, like Trump, who hailed from New York and had made considerable money in the business world.

Kelly's hiring seemed to clash with the White House image forwarded by Scaramucci. A four-star Marine general known for discipline and organization, Kelly was the opposite of the free-wheeling and free-talking Mooch, who bragged last week that his job was entirely secure and that he reported directly to the President, not the chief of staff.

The presumption was that Scaramucci's closeness to Trump -- and Mini-Me-like devotion to the President -- would insulate him in spite of the massive controversy caused by his comments.

That presumption was proven wrong Monday afternoon. Why? Because we may well have underestimated Kelly's negotiating power when deciding to accept the chief of staff job or his influence over Trump once he took it.

Most Republican establishment types applauded the move, believing, as Kelly clearly did, that Scaramucci had already sacrificed his credibility inside and outside the White House, and had become a massive distraction.

"General Kelly is 1 for 1," tweeted Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo in the wake of Mooch's firing. "Let's keep it going."

Curbelo reflected the feelings of lots of Republican elected officials who viewed Scaramucci as, at best, a distraction and, at worst, an actively negative force within a White House already careening out of control.

Scaramucci's firing at the hands of Kelly will give some within the GOP establishment hope that Kelly will bring much needed message and personal discipline to a White House that has shown little of either. In the ouster, there will also be some who see evidence that Kelly is what Trump needs -- a four-star general to whom the President listens and who he respects.

That Trump was willing to part ways with someone like Scaramucci, a longtime personal friend and advocate, does suggest that, for the moment, Kelly has some real power in the West Wing.

If past is prologue, Trump will return to listening primarily to the person he trusts most in this world: Himself.

For today, however, the forces of order won out over the forces of chaos. And given how Trump's last week went, that's a very good thing if you are a Republican on the ballot come 2018.


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