The rapid firing of White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, suggests the days of freelance messaging might be over in the Trump administration. And for Trump fans, that’s a good thing.
We already know the new White House chief of staff John Kelly is a disciplined four-star Marine general. It’s one of the reasons why Trump put him in charge. He needed to restore order to a staff that was divided by ambition, agendas and culture.
Kelly fit the uniform, while Scaramucci was the poster boy for that incoherence.
Scaramucci initially bragged to the press how he reported directly to the President – and not the previous chief of staff, Reince Priebus. Without saying it, Scaramucci was saying he was more powerful than Priebus. I’m sure Kelly saw right through it.
Kelly knew Scaramucci was a maverick at the root and the military doesn’t like mavericks. Those are the members who are typically dishonorably discharged from the military. They don’t understand order and don’t like following directions. Sound like someone you know?
Scaramucci also brought a little too much New York attitude to a town that prefers partisanship over showboating. It’s okay to argue over politics, but you don’t want to gloat in DC. That’s why Sen. Chuck Schumer quickly hushed his Democratic colleagues in the Senate chamber following Trump’s healthcare bill defeat last week. Even though Schumer is from New York, he understood the impression a showboat makes to outsiders.
The press office tried to give Scaramucci’s release a nice PR spin, but don’t buy the bull. Kelly doesn’t need a “clean slate and the ability to build his own team,” like the current press secretary said in a statement. Kelly knew Scaramucci could never be loyal to anyone but himself.
Scaramucci might have vowed loyalty to the president and even turned an exchange with the press into a love fest for “Donald.” But leadership in the military isn’t centered around love. It’s centered around loyalty. Troops follow a general into battle because they are loyal to his cause and believe in his vision. They know the General has his back. They trust he has their back.
The next few days (or even weeks) will be full of drama (again) for the White House press corps as a new Communications Director is vetted.
It’s anyone’s guess who Kelly will want, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the new communications director comes with a military background. I wrote last week that Scaramucci was in over his head because he lacked the depth and experience needed to lead a communications team. He didn’t understand strategy. What I missed is that he didn’t instill loyalty.
Without a doubt, Kelly will ignite loyalty with the staff. His minions need a strong leader with a big personality and gravitas to put them in place. The question is, will the commander-in-chief ignite continual loyalty from his chief of staff once the real bullets start flying.