There were so many 'Worst Weeks' in Washington, it's hard to pick just one
Posted July 29
For the past six years or so, I've been sifting through each week to find the single person who had the absolute "Worst Week in Washington."
Sometimes it's easy -- one person just steps to the front and snatches the award. (Anthony Weiner, I am looking at you.) Sometimes it's hard -- a slow week where no one really does anything colossally stupid.
But, never before have I seen a week like the past one -- in which no fewer than five (!) people could rightfully claim the crown. (I see "Game of Thrones" parallels everywhere these days!)
It was VERY hard to pick just one -- but I managed to do it. Still, I couldn't ignore the other four very worthy "winners." So, below I ranked all five -- from the least bad week to the most bad week.
Shall we begin?
5. Donald Trump: Look. This was a very bad week for Trump. The internal battles he creates among staff -- playing this one against that one -- burst into the public eye. Not only did he fire his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, but Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had to beat back rumors that he was unhappy and might leave sooner rather than later. The three major speeches Trump gave this week -- to the Boy Scouts in West Virginia, at a campaign-type rally in Youngstown, Ohio, and to police officers on Long Island -- were heavily political and controversial.
But, Trump can't go any higher than fifth on this list. Why? He's still the President! And the moves he made this week will allow him to be even more Trumpian than he has over the first 6 months of 2017 -- if that's even possible.
4. Anthony Scaramucci: In a normal week and in a normal White House, the new communications director would have had the worst week with a bullet. After all, he gave an expletive-laden interview to The New Yorker in which he described Priebus as a "paranoid schizophrenic" and insinuated that White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is a whole lot more flexible than he looks.
And yet, Scaramucci is still communications director, with only the slightest scolding from the White House for his comments about Priebus and Bannon. And Priebus, as Scaramucci predicted, was let go on Friday. Scaramucci, despite this week (or -- gulp -- maybe because of it) is weirdly ascendant in the White House.
3. Jeff Sessions: Here's the best thing you say about the attorney general at the end of this week: he's still gainfully employed. In the past five days, Sessions has been called "beleaguered" and "very weak" by the President. He has repeatedly been told that Trump is "disappointed" in him. But Sessions is refusing to take the hint -- insisting that if Trump wants him gone, then Trump is going to need to fire him. Which Trump hasn't done. Yet. And now, a possible solution has emerged with chatter that Sessions could replace newly named White House chief of staff John Kelly as the head of the Department of Homeland Security. Such a shift would allow Trump to get rid of Sessions as AG but not force him to fire the former Alabama senator, who remains popular with his colleagues and the conservative base.
2. Reince Priebus: Priebus' time in the White House ended somewhat unceremoniously as Trump informed the world he had hired a new chief of staff via Twitter on Friday evening. But Priebus knew it was coming: He had offered his resignation in a one-on-one with Trump the day before. And, Priebus handled his firing with a huge amount of class and dignity, casting himself as (still) a giant fan of Trump and refusing to respond to Scaramucci's attacks on him. Priebus won't be working in the White House anymore. But he ensured he will land softly in Republican-controlled Washington.
1. Mitch McConnell: With all of the focus on who said what about whom in the Trump White House, you might almost forget that the Senate failed to pass a health care reform measure this week -- ending seven years of promises to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. That failure sits at the feet of McConnell, the Senate majority leader and someone considered by everyone in Washington (Democrats included) as a vote-counting (and vote-delivering) wizard. That reputation took a hit early Friday morning when McConnell couldn't keep John McCain on board; the Arizona senator joined with Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to kill the so-called "skinny repeal" package.
No, it wasn't all McConnell's fault. (The math was always hard. Trump was neutral, if not negative, in terms of his impact.) But McConnell is the one who carried this. He is the one who pushed the bill time and again after it seemed clear the votes weren't there. And it failed on his home turf -- the floor of the US Senate.
Mitch McConnell, for losing a crucial home game, you had the Worst (of a very bad) Week in Washington. Congrats, or something.