Ex-sycophants highlight the void of competence around Trump

Ex-sycophants highlight the void of competence around Trump
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The transformation of Trump sycophants — the latest being the "Mooch" — into critics who charge he's a mean-spirited, evil, corrupt racist probably says more about them than it does the president.

Anthony ScaramucciAnthony ScaramucciScaramucci: 'Trump fatigue' could help Bloomberg beat Trump if he wins Democratic nomination Will Republicans continue to engage in willful blindness? Scaramucci: Trump sees Bloomberg as threat MORE, the controversial investment banker and on-again, immediately off-again Trump aide, in a matter of a few days this month went from championing the president to calling him “narcissistic” and “crazy,” and expressing shock at his racist rants.

The Mooch may have been unique in not realizing Trump's long history of racism and narcissism.

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Trump's lawyer Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democrats turn to obstruction charge Juan Williams: Counting the votes to remove Trump MORE, facing prison time, flipped — he claimed — after the president embraced Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinSchiff shows clip of McCain in Trump impeachment trial The need for clear thinking about Russia German president expresses 'sorrow' for Holocaust, warns 'spirits of evil' are rising MORE, refused to denounce white nationalists and because of "his daily destruction of our civility." Which begs the question: After 11 years as a close confidante of Trump, where have you been, Michael?

Last year Omarosa Manigault NewmanOmarosa Onee Manigault NewmanThe Memo: Impeachment's scars cut deep with Trump, say those who know him Author of anonymous 'resistance' NYT op-ed to publish book Juan Williams: Black Republicans call out Trump — finally — on race MORE, one of the president's few African American advisers, was fired by top White House aides; she then decided Trump is "mentally impaired," based on her 15-year association with him, starting with the reality TV show, “The Apprentice.” In the same spirit of Scaramucci and Cohen, how did she only now discover his instability?

It's not that any of the criticisms are off the mark; it’s that none of these epiphanies are credible.

The Mooch, who has, in addition to the president, supported Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaFormer NYT correspondent rips Democrats' 'selective use' of constitutional violations Obama portraits leaving National Portrait Gallery to tour museums across the country Tulsi Gabbard explains decision to sue Hillary Clinton: 'They can do it to anybody' MORE, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders to Clinton: 'This is not the kind of rhetoric that we need' Sekulow vows Bidens, Ukraine will be part of Trump impeachment defense Elizabeth Warren: More 'Hillary' than Hillary MORE, Jeb Bush, Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyOvernight Defense: Veterans group seeks Trump apology for comments on brain injuries | Pentagon says dozens of troops suffered traumatic injuries after attack | Trump unveils Space Force logo Lindsey Graham will oppose subpoena of Hunter Biden Senators push Pentagon on Syria strategy after withdrawal uproar, Soleimani strike MORE and Scott Walker, is not tethered to political principle. Less than two weeks before starting to trash Trump, he hosted a client dinner with guest of honor Donald Trump Jr. He does hold a big conference for investors and business people and wants to attract headliners, and has launched other enterprises. His is a purely self-interest calculation.

Michael Cohen, a man with a long record as a sleazy bully, sought to polish his image before heading off to the slammer. 

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Most revealing, these are the sort of dubious characters that always surround Donald Trump; he likes these types … until he finds them not useful.

Modern presidencies — from Richard Nixon through Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonElizabeth Warren: More 'Hillary' than Hillary Nadler plays 1999 clip of Graham defining high crimes: 'It doesn't even have to be a crime' Trump's big reelection weapon: A remarkable manufacturing jobs boom MORE — have faced scandals, with White House advisers — from Chuck Colson to Dick Morris. But those administrations also were populated by men and women of capacity and virtue.

That's not so much the case today. None of the current top White House aides would ever be considered for comparable roles under a Republican president like a Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioCommerce Department withdraws Huawei rule after Pentagon pushback: reports  Veronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address Senators press DHS over visa approval for Pensacola naval base shooter MORE or a John Kasich.

The Trump cabinet, more than any in memory, has been tainted by ethical transgressions and resignations.

Competence is at an all-time low.

Think for a moment of the George W. Bush and Barack Obama top-level officials — Hank Paulson, Tim Geithner, Larry Summers — who guided America through the economic cataclysms of 2008 and 2009; then imagine how ill-equipped the mediocre Trump economic team would be in a crisis today.

Some ex-Trumpites depart hoping to still parlay the experience; Sean SpicerSean Michael SpicerPress: It's time to bring back White House briefings Rapid turnover shapes Trump's government Pelosi gets under Trump's skin on impeachment MORE is as duplicitous on the speaking stump today as he was as White House press secretary.

There also have been men of principle who departed quietly: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonOvernight Defense: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request Kudlow says Trump 'looking at' reforming law on bribing foreign officials Trump called top military brass 'a bunch of dopes and babies' in 2017: book MORE (though ill-suited for the job), national security adviser H.R. McMaster, National Intelligence Director Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsSchiff schedules public hearing with US intel chief  Rod Rosenstein joins law and lobbying firm DHS issues bulletin warning of potential Iranian cyberattack MORE and Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Kevin Hassett. Most left with little regard for the president they served.

Yet none of this seems to touch Trump.

Michael Cohen's spin handlers argued his testimony would be devastating for the president. It didn't much change anything.

The Mooch now boasts he's launching an anti-Trump political action committee that could take 5 percent to 8 percent of the incumbent's vote in 2020. No one believes that.

Once it was considered bad form for administration officials to kiss and tell about the president while he still was in office. There have been no more scholarly, history-appreciating public officials than the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.). More than two decades ago, during the Clinton administration, Moynihan was livid at insider accounts of White House travails. It should wait until the president leaves; otherwise, he worried, it will inhibit serious discussions and damage the office of the presidency.

That's not a concern with the office today.

Albert R. Hunt is the former executive editor of Bloomberg News. He previously served as reporter, bureau chief and Washington editor for the Wall Street Journal. For almost a quarter-century he wrote a column on politics for The Wall Street Journal, then the International New York Times and Bloomberg View. Follow him on Twitter @alhuntdc.