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 ScaramucciTrump blasts 'Mr. Tough Guy' Bolton: 'He made some very big mistakes' Trump's mental decline is perfectly clear for those with eyes to see and ears to hear Scaramucci calls Trump a 'full-blown demagogue' 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.


Trump's lawyer Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenTrump sues to block NY prosecutors' subpoena for his tax returns Senior HUD official reprimanded for making political statements on the job New York attorneys subpoena eight years of Trump tax returns: report MORE, facing prison time, flipped — he claimed — after the president embraced Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinWe, the People: A radical idea that must persist Trump's 'soldier of fortune' foreign policy Feehery: Impeachment fever bad for Democratic governing vision 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 NewmanTrump renews attacks on Omarosa, slamming her as 'disgusting and foul mouthed' Ex-sycophants highlight the void of competence around Trump Scaramucci breaks up with Trump in now-familiar pattern 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 ObamaTrump spokeswoman: Health care will be 'big' selling point for union workers Democrats will not beat Trump without moderate policy ideas Trump job approval rises amid record partisan gap: Gallup MORE, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGiuliani says 'of course' he asked Ukraine to look into Biden seconds after denying it Sanders hits 1 million donors Democrats will not beat Trump without moderate policy ideas MORE, Jeb Bush, Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes Missouri man latest to die of vaping-related illness Senators draft bipartisan bill to ban flavored e-cigarettes 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. 


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 ClintonTrump sues to block NY prosecutors' subpoena for his tax returns Most voters say there is too much turnover in Trump administration RNC spokeswoman on 2020 GOP primary cancellations: 'This is not abnormal' 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 RubioTrump faces difficult balancing act with reelection campaign Republicans wary of US action on Iran California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth 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 SpicerSpicer on 'Dancing with the Stars': 'Those of us who stand for #Christ won't be discounted' Spicer makes debut on 'Dancing With the Stars' to Spice Girls song Merriam-Webster: A 200-year-old dictionary offers hot political takes on Twitter 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 TillersonTillerson: Netanyahu 'played' Trump with misinformation Pompeo sees status grow with Bolton exit Trump blasts 'Mr. Tough Guy' Bolton: 'He made some very big mistakes' MORE (though ill-suited for the job), national security adviser H.R. McMaster, National Intelligence Director Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsTrump has named more ex-lobbyists to Cabinet in 3 years than Obama, Bush did in full terms: report Hillicon Valley: FCC approves Nexstar-Tribune merger | Top Democrat seeks answers on security of biometric data | 2020 Democrats take on Chinese IP theft | How Google, Facebook probes are testing century-old antitrust laws Congress should defy Dan Coats' last request on phone surveillance 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.