Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
It is very hard to imagine that Senator John McCain and Anthony Scaramucci work in the same town. One brought honor and distinction to the institution where he works, the U.S. Senate, and the other totally disgraced the White House, the new place where he works. The President appeared to have great admiration for his new Communications Director and evidenced no problems with the vile and disgusting manner in which Mooch spoke to a New Yorker magazine reporter. What was particularly ironic about the entire episode–beyond the grossness of Scaramucci’s language–was that the pretext for the conversation was a desire to address the proliferation of White House leaks.
McCain returned to the Senate on Tuesday less than two weeks after brain surgery to cast a key vote to permit the Senate to proceed with consideration of the proposed Obama “repeal and replace” bill. His stirring speech called upon his colleagues to return to regular orders and begin legislating not imposing. When he voted after midnight on Thursday night against the proposed “slim” bill, McCain essentially moved “repeal and replace” in any form off the Senate’s agenda. McCain was putting his vote where his mouth was and pushing the Senate to approach healthcare collegially. He was also emphatically handing Trump a major defeat.
With the firing of Reince Priebus; Trump’s insulting the Boy Scouts; the vitriol expressed by the President in his speech on Friday before the Law Enforcement Officials on MS-13; and the stream of totally disconnected healthcare related tweets from the President’s phone, the American people have observed a White House that is totally out of control. Trump may enjoy watching people fight with each other—as long as he is not being attacked—but it is dubious if bringing in a military officer as his chief of staff will now bring order to the White House operation.
(It should be noted that military people usually are strong candidates to join an Administration. They have been professionally trained to follow orders, often without questioning; which the Trump seeks. Unfortunately for General Kelly, in taking over as Chief or Staff of the White House, he may be the first former four-star general who will preside over a command where two other generals—three-star general H. R. McMaster and former Marine Corps four-star general James Mattis—could actually resign on his watch. Washington is already flush with rumors to that effect.)
The alarming part about this situation is the question whether there are now in Washington enough Members in both parties and both chambers, who observed McCain and Scaramucci’s speech–as well as the President’s response to each of them–to say Basta. To measure how serious the chaos might be and yet how solid Trump’s base remains, conservative commentator Brett Stephens remarked on television on Friday that at the moment if Trump does not resign or is impeached, he likely could be re-elected in 2020. If this environment persists and the nation confronts a genuine international crisis, the world will be facing much more fear than only their puzzlement over who is minding the store at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.