As a new week begins, I usually sift through the best Monday morning evidence of Trump haters embarrassing themselves over the weekend—a target-rich environment—coupled with a search for one piece that might offer the best help to those who cannot grasp what the Trump era even means.
Over at The Federalist, senior contributor David Marcus had a piece that I had to digest slowly. I had enjoyed Anthony Scaramucci’s rollout as White House Communications Director, and winced at his inexplicable disaster of an interview with The New Yorker. But on balance, I saw more to like than dislike, and the Marcus piece made points that struck me as wise, namely: the rough New York edges of Scaramucci (and Trump) are a fresher, more honest path toward real change than the tired ruminations of an army of PR geeks parsing and sifting everything the president says.
As I was nodding in conditional agreement, Scaramucci was being shown the door. Literally, it appears. The John Kelly era had begun.
Change wasn’t just in the wind, it blew in like an F-5 Marine tornado. Twitter exploded into predictable camps: hopeful Trump supporters wondering if Kelly’s arrival (and Mooch’s exit) would bring a welcome atmosphere of stability, and haters who saw this as further evidence of a White House reduced to an even more laughable cluster.
I am obviously in the first group, but I’m not blind. I want the Trump agenda to succeed in every way, but that will not happen if we are to be treated to countless catharses followed by exhausted sighs and reassurances that now everything will calm down.
That said, I have no desire for Kelly to bind the president’s Twitter thumbs. I want him to let Trump be Trump, while managing the dramas that unfold before him. Some will stem from the necessary tumult of real change; others will flow from the personality conflicts that challenge every administration. This one just puts those conflicts in a daily display window.
For his part, Scaramucci was mocked lustily on his way to the parking lot, for calling it “best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team.” Like it was his idea to leave.
But does anyone even recognize such a thing any more? It’s called a gracious exit, of the type we saw from both Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus, who surely disappointed millions by exuding no signal whatsoever that a brutal tell-all book is in the pipeline.
This is what truly confounds the haters. Even the people ejected from White House service maintain a genuine appreciation for President Trump and what he is trying to do. This violates the usual Washington model of wafer-thin loyalty easily shattered the moment a publisher offers an advance.
Real change was always going to bring two reactions: for those threatened by it, a revulsion unlike any political bad blood seen in the modern era; and for those inspired and energized by it, a devotion deeper and stronger than any leader has enjoyed since Ronald Reagan.
So, hit reset and here we go again. People who despise the president, from the usual critics on the left to his tormentors trying to cling to some shred of conservatism, will laugh and point and hope for some evidence that their prediction (and dream) of a failed Trump era may come to pass. His supporters, who were willing to tolerate Scaramucci if positive results unfolded, now greet Kelly with well-placed hope and high expectations.
Will the Marine general bring order to the White House chaos? Will we notice message discipline in a quest for actual legislative accomplishments? Will Ivanka have to go through him to see her Dad? The suspense is compelling.
But one thing is already settled. No one should harbor any expectation that the Trump presidency will start to look or act like an administration that would have been run by any of his 16 rivals, or like any White House in history. Love it, hate it, oppose it, support it, but deal with it—he runs this show, and how it proceeds is up to him alone.