Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The White House Communications Director

Was there formerly a White House Communications Director?  Maybe it was a behind the scenes management post but that is certainly not the case now.  Since the announcement that Anthony Scaramucci has been appointed to the role, it immediately became high profile.  Coverage of the appointment and of Scaramucci personally has been more widespread than for most of Trump's cabinet members.  Mike Pence seems to have vanished, which arguably is not much of a change, and a new man is in town who "loves Donald Trump".

There is no need here to detail Anthony's career, his many ups and few downs, his time at Goldman Sachs, his years starting and then selling a private banking focused hedge fund, his fund of funds success, and his SALT Conference which began seven or eight years ago in Las Vegas and to many became the most important hedge conference of the year.  All of this has been in major publications in the last week.

This has been watched closely as in the mid-90's Anthony and his family lived on a block of modest houses with, on average, 60 by 100 lots where we also lived at the time.  He was clearly an ambitious guy but also a gregarious family man.  The block was L shaped, with a stretch of approximately 10 homes on each side and then took a direct left where several more homes were located before it funneled into a busy main town road.  In effect the street was a modified cul-de-sac where all families with children knew each other well.  A basketball goal on a telephone pole faced the street, games were played there, small kids rode bikes, and the sidewalks and stoops were places where people chatted.

Anthony joined in and was especially respectful of some of the senior neighbors.  He would call his children at dinner time and at times yell "it's tortellini tonight", or whatever Italian food they were having.  Sounds idyllic in a way, and in certain aspects it was.  I would often see Anthony at the nearby LIRR station and he would always say something positive about the company that I represented, and then say that his fund owned it.  He never pressed me for information, not in the least.

Anthony and his family left that block at around the same time we did in 1997, he to a newly built unobtrusive mansion in a nearby neighborhood of expansive lots, but his was more or less invisible on a short cul-de-sac with many trees.  We moved into an existing house up the hill in the same direction.

To say that I am appalled by what Anthony is doing now is an understatement.  His political ambition had been apparent for years(he was an Obama supporter and fund raiser in 2008) but this is startling.  At the same time it is not surprising.  He is irrepressible.  Seven or eight years ago he self published a memoir of his Wall Street experience that wasn't half bad at times but became a bit too self adulating as it developed.  The local Italian deli with the best hero sandwiches in our little town had the book behind the counter next to a book by LLCoolJ and one about Boomer Esaison, other local residents.  At the time I wondered how Anthony showed up there.  Maybe it makes sense now.

Media reports suggest that Anthony and Trump are similar and maybe their careers and ambitions are to some extent.  As a person there is no comparison of the repulsive hostile oaf that Trump is to Anthony.  Unlike Trump and Bannon, crude, misogynistic, and hateful talk is not part of his vernacular.  Unlike Trump, Anthony started from scratch.  Whether Anthony's ambition and his disappointment over Obama's constant anti-Wall Street agenda lead him to facilitate Trump's poor agenda is a worry, because he could.  He is much more talented than most of the hacks and ideologues that surround Trump.  That makes Anthony either a hope or a substantial danger.

Next up, Scaramucci vs.Bannon.  One will fall.


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