And needs more of.
Scaramucci is fast out of the gate taking over the helm at communications. Given how Trump’s political and communications team has struggled to build political momentum for Trump we take Scaramucci’s promising appointment as an opportunity to review how various Trump administration officials have performed to date, and where the strong and weak links are.
To locate where the weak points are let’s look at who in the White House before the appointment of Scaramucci was doing their job and who was not – and by “doing their job” I am considering only job performance running their corner of the political machinery, not their ideology or whether they have conflicted with Trump over policy.
Who is doing their job well
Whose results are mixed results
Jeff Sessions – I’m willing to cut Sessions considerable slack given his role fighting immigration in the Senate and his early support for Trump. But his role just isn’t working so long as Sessions drags his feet when he should be rounding up leakers at the CIA and NSA as well as investigating former Obama officials for unmasking Republican candidates last year. In retrospect, Giuliani or Christie would have been better AGs for bringing the intelligence agencies to heel.
Regardless, I would like to keep Sessions, but doubt if he can hang in.
Who is failing at their job
Steve Bannon – Poor, stupid, Bannon doesn’t know how to avoid making enemies unnecessarily. It was bad enough he thought he could win a power struggle against Trump’s daughter and son-in-law – an erroneous idea that by itself would have gotten any adviser to any previous American President fired swiftly. He’s compounded his isolation by angering H.R. McMaster, a dangerously slick political pro, as well as other officials. Even nationalist advisors like Stephen Miller have disassociated themselves from him to avoid getting embroiled in his many feuds.
Bannon’s one strategy for remaining in the White House was to ally with his former enemy, Reince Priebus. But Priebus (see below) is in the most trouble of any other official.
Bannon lacks administration influence; he remains only for the sake of his own vanity. Keeping him around is pointless now that he’s blown his opportunity.
Reince Priebus – Saving the worst for last. Priebus is by far the most worthless member of Trump’s inner circle (only Bannon was dumb enough to form a partnership with Priebus).
Two of Priebus’ closest allies from his RNC stint, Katie Walsh and Sean Spicer, are already history. Walsh was apparently removed because of her leaks to the press. Spicer was incompetent. The last straw may have been the attempt by Priebus (and Bannon) to block Scaramucci from joining communications. That both Priebus and Bannon failed illustrates how powerless Priebus and Bannon are.
The first thing that stand’s out from this list is that A-type personalities are whom Trump gets the best results out of; usually generals, and business executives. The only exception has been the protectionist academic, Peter Navarro.
The weakest links in the chain are Trump’s political and communications officials. Especially career politicians and RNC functionaries.
In terms of political operatives, his best working relationships have been hard nosed street fighters. This includes past operatives long since separated from Trump who were the right operatives at the right stage of Trump’s campaign: Lewandowski was appropriate during the first social media driven phase of the primary. As one of the only Republican operatives alive today with experience at a contested Republican convention (the 1976 floor fight between Ford and Reagan) Manafort was the appropriate choice to nail down delegates ahead of the Republican convention.
Scaramucci is a good addition because his arrogant hedge fund persona resembles the iron-fisted political operatives who have won Trump’s past favor.
In the future dominant personalities like Scaramucci are the type of adviser Trump should seek out.
Run of the mill RNC Republicans should be avoided and whomever are currently with the administration should be cleared out.
In light of these facts, Pragmatically Distributed’s wish list of personnel changes for team Trump is as follows:
Dina Powell for Chief of Staff.
Stephen Miller to replace Bannon.
Elevate Julia Hahn to replace Miller.
Hire Newt Gingrich as a part-time political consultant.
Hire Tom Delay as a full time political adviser focused on Congress.
A Side Note: Zero-hour for Obamacare Repeal in the Senate
I have seen nothing in the Senate to change my previous view that McConnell will probably get health care over the finish line, except for the possible absence of John McCain.
Though moderate Senators have been playing hard to get, the incentive structure of the repeal-replace battle favors the moderates voting for the bill at the last moment after they’ve maximized as many concessions and state-specific carveouts as possible from McConnell. If they were to still vote against the bill they would be throwing away many billions of dollars for their own states.
McConnell will probably hold a vote on the repeal only legislation to demonstrate to Conservative holdouts that repeal only cannot pass. If, as expected, repeal only fails, McConnell’s partial repeal bill will be the best remaining option for every Conservative except Rand Paul.
If McCain does not show up for the final vote, passage will be more complicated but still possible because, if the vote falls 1 Senator short, the bill can be put on hold until McCain can make a stop back at the Senate.