Re­mov­ing the ‘Scar’

To suc­ceed in the White House, the new chief of staff will also have to plug leaks

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By R. Em­mett Tyrrell Jr. R. Em­mett Tyrrell Jr. is edi­tor in chief of The Amer­i­can Spec­ta­tor. He is au­thor of “The Death of Lib­er­al­ism,” pub­lished by Thomas Nel­son Inc.

Luigi Barzini, my old pal and the au­thor of so many fine books all writ­ten from his aerie above Rome — and his finest, “The Ital­ians,” he wrote in English — once jolted me by say­ing, “You Amer­i­cans talk too much.” Of course, he said it with af­fec­tion. Back in the days of the Cold War, he was one of the few Euro­pean in­tel­lec­tu­als who re­ally un­der­stood and ad­mired Amer­ica. What pro­voked him, how­ever, was the fa­mous eu­phemism of Amer­i­can politi­cians.

He ob­jected to the empty bom­bast of our po­lit­i­cal wiz­ards as they pur­sued one or an­other of their noble projects, say, end­ing world hunger or get­ting re-elected or leav­ing jail un­en­cum­bered by leg irons. I thought of Luigi when I read of the White House’s new­est, though ap­par­ently short-lived, com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor. His rant to the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza was mem­o­rable, but did it rep­re­sent still more empty bom­bast? I think he was in earnest, if X-rated.

His name is An­thony Scara­mucci, and he goes by the nick­name “the Mooch.” Ac­tu­ally, I be­lieve he chose the wrong syl­la­ble from his sur­name for a moniker. I would have cho­sen, at least for his lat­est project, the first syl­la­ble, “the Scar.” If he were to carry out the pres­i­dent’s or­ders he was go­ing to have to play rough. His short-lived mis­sion was sup­pos­edly to shut down the White House’s leaks and to ex­pose their per­pe­tra­tors.

To suc­ceed in such a vast and com­pli­cated en­deavor he would have to leave many scars and even more black and blue marks. I was cheer­ing for him over the week­end, though at the out­set he was go­ing to have to turn his guns on none other than the White House staff. It is, ac­cord­ing to my web of se­cret agents, filled with die-hard never-Trumpers and con­cealed agents of what the pres­i­dent has fe­lic­i­tously called the “swamp.” Don­ald Trump was too con­cil­ia­tory to­ward them. They are all around him.

The Scar, as I shall re­mem­ber him, ob­vi­ously wanted to get ev­ery­one’s at­ten­tion and his obscenity-laced tirade cer­tainly ac­com­plished that. At first, when I heard his early f-bombs as they say I thought Pres­i­dent Trump had in­vited a lead­ing Demo­crat to serve as White House com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor. Say Rahm Emanuel or Tom Perez or even Hil­lary Clin­ton.

But no, it was an Ital­ian guy from Long Is­land. That cer­tainly would have pleased Luigi, and I think he would have for­given the Scar’s crude­ness. Amer­ica, whether gov­erned by Repub­li­cans or Democrats, has changed in its cul­tural tastes from Luigi’s days, and so when one speaks men­ac­ingly of one’s in­ten­tions one had best use strong lan­guage in one’s threats. My guess is that Luigi would find noth­ing empty in the Scar’s for­tis­si­mos. Luigi would wince, but he would in the end have ap­proved.

Luigi, in “The Ital­ians,” spoke of his coun­try’s in­govern­abilita, or un­govern­abil­ity, and so ram­pant are the leaks in Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment to­day that we are ap­proach­ing in­govern­abilita here on th­ese fruited plains. Some­thing has to be done. The leaks are com­ing from every cor­ner of the gov­ern­ment, es­pe­cially the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity.

Re­cently the for­mer head of the FBI leaked while tes­ti­fy­ing be­fore Congress. He thought no one would ob­ject. The pres­i­dent has left so many empty seats open — some need­ing Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion, some not — that it is as though Hil­lary won the 2016 elec­tion. It all calls for Action This Day whether from the Scar or a suc­ces­sor.

The new chief of staff must rec­og­nize this. John F. Kelly, a for­mer Ma­rine, is a straight shooter. He is also a for­mer gen­eral. There may be bom­bast on Capi­tol Hill, but there will be none in the White House, and if it con­tin­ues to be heard from the outer reaches of the gov­ern­ment my guess is the gen­eral will know how to take care of it. He will not em­ploy empty pro­fan­ity.

Mr. Kelly has the ben­e­fit of a se­cret shad­ow­ing him. The se­cret is he has earned the uni­form that he wore. Don­ald puts great stock in that uni­form. Any­one who has heard him talk of it knows that Don­ald Trump rec­og­nizes it means com­pe­tence, duty, even hero­ism. My guess is that the pres­i­dent has found his chief of staff fi­nally.

Mr. Kelly has the ben­e­fit of a se­cret shad­ow­ing him. The se­cret is he has earned the uni­form that he wore.

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