The Administration

OPINION | ‘Mooch’ and the Midwest: He is every Wall Street stereotype, but the base will love it


Out here on the prairie, we’re sparing with our nicknames.

Joseph may get shortened to Joe, Margaret to Meg, and Robert and William almost always to Bob and Bill.

But while we may run across an occasional Moose, we’re not going to call anyone “Mooch,” at least not without derogatory intent.

So the question becomes: Can Anthony “Mooch” Scaramucci, the Wall Street operator tapped by President Donald Trump to be his communications director, deliver the president’s message to the heartland?

Not likely.

“He doesn’t speak our language,” says Roger Martin, head of a Lansing, Mich., public relations and political consulting firm. “He comes across as a quintessential New York tough, like a sleazy character from a mobster movie.”

Think Sopranos. Or The Godfather. Or SNL’s Father Sarducci, arriving at the White House to make sure the faithless know they will pay for their sins.

{mosads}Scaramucci confirms every stereotype harbored by Midwesterners about New Yorkers, particularly those who inhabit the shadier strata of Wall Street.

He’s flashy. He’s cocky. And, like his new boss, he’s not modest about his wealth.

Out here, we’re khaki and button downed. Scaramucci is silk and sunglasses and Italian loafers. And who’d be surprised to find a yard or two of gold chains under all that fine Italian tailoring?

He’s pure Manhattan. But then again, so is Trump. And you see where that got him.

“How much does the typical Midwest/East Coast stereotype matter in the world of Trump,” asks Matt Friedman of Tanner Friedman Strategic Consulting in Southfield, Mich. “Who would have ever thought a billionaire who lives in a gilded Manhattan apartment would become the hero of those Midwestern voters who put him in office?”

Scaramucci is charged with shaping and delivering the president’s message to the public. But who believes that’s his real job? A communicator must project warmth and trust, and have an earnest appeal to the target audience. That’s not who Mooch is.

In this unfolding tragedy, Scaramucci is Horatio to Trump’s Hamlet, scouring the shadows for plotters and whispering rumors of deceit and betrayal.

He’s the enforcer, the protector. His first assignment was breaking the legs of Trump’s former chief of staff, Reince Priebus, whom Scaramucci has supplanted as the president’s consigliere.

“All of the talk a week ago about getting the administration’s message out to the public has quickly proven to be malarkey,” says Friedman. “At his introductory press conference, he chided the media about giving less coverage to palace intrigue and more to policy. And all he’s done since is create palace intrigue.

“It’s obvious who the priority audience is, and that’s the president.”

But don’t discount Scaramucci’s ability to help his boss. Trump’s brashness is a huge piece of his appeal to his base, and now he has a mini-me busting heads and keeping score in the White House.

The base, who believe their man is being destroyed by the press and partisan enemies, will cheer anyone they see as having the president’s back, particularly one with such in-your-face swagger.

Count on Trump loyalists, who have demonstrated they will stick with their president through every calamity, to embrace this Wall Street slick as if he were an Ohio parson. The tougher he talks, the more dear he’ll become to them.

“With Trump, throw the rules out the windows,” says Friedman. “There are messages now that connect with audiences in ways that never have before and may never again.”

As for the bigger challenge of broadening Trump’s support and helping drive his agenda through Congress, fuggedaboutit.

Scaramucci will be a Wall Street bull crashing through Washington’s house of mirrors.

Nolan Finley is the editorial page editor of The Detroit News and author of “Little Red Hen, A Collection of Columns From Detroit’s Conservative Voice.” Follow him on Twitter @NolanFinleyDN.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags communications director Donald Trump Donald Trump Reince Priebus Scaramucci trump white house

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