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 sees Bloomberg as threat Scaramucci: Trump will be gone by March 2020 Scaramucci hits back after Bullock solicited personal message of praise 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 CohenDOJ releases hundreds of pages of memos from Mueller probe Scaramucci visits Cohen in prison US Supreme Court readies for Trump MORE, facing prison time, flipped — he claimed — after the president embraced Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinBiden expresses shock that Trump considers attending Russia May Day event Harris swipes at Trump on Russia: 'Always nice to spend time with supporters on the campaign trail' Trump says he's considering attending Russia's May Day parade 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 NewmanAuthor of anonymous 'resistance' NYT op-ed to publish book Juan Williams: Black Republicans call out Trump — finally — on race Michael Cohen denies Omarosa advising him in prison 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 ObamaJuan Williams: Honesty, homophobia and Mayor Pete Democrats debate how to defeat Trump: fight or heal 3 ways government can help clean up Twitter MORE, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton3 ways government can help clean up Twitter Intelligence Democrat: Stop using 'quid pro quo' to describe Trump allegations The Memo: Bloomberg's 2020 moves draw ire from Democrats MORE, Jeb Bush, Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Falling investment revives attacks against Trump's tax cuts GOP senators plan to tune out impeachment week 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 ClintonDemocrats debate how to defeat Trump: fight or heal As impeachment goes public, forget 'conventional wisdom' Legacy of California's Prop. 187 foreshadows GOP's path ahead 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 RubioGOP senators plan to tune out impeachment week Republicans warn election results are 'wake-up call' for Trump Paul's demand to out whistleblower rankles GOP colleagues 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 Spicer'Queer Eye' star Karamo Brown says his family has gotten death threats over his Sean Spicer support 'Dancing with the Stars' judges to Spicer: 'We keep throwing you out the boat' but viewers throw 'you a life preserver' Dog who chased ISIS leader gets press conference on 'SNL' 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 TillersonHaley: Top Trump aides tried to get me to undermine him Top Senate Dem: Officials timed immigration policy around 2020 election The Hill's Morning Report - Witness transcripts offer new clues; Election Day MORE (though ill-suited for the job), national security adviser H.R. McMaster, National Intelligence Director Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsThis week: Democrats churn toward next phase of impeachment fight 281 lobbyists have worked in Trump administration: report Former intelligence chief Coats rejoins law firm 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.