He came and went fast enough to give many people whiplash. In a controversy-laden tenure that lasted less than a week, Anthony Scaramucci left his seat Monday as Donald Trump’s communications director. This latest play in the chaotic game of musical chairs that is the Trump White House, however, won’t save the administration from Donald Trump.
Scaramucci’s resignation follows his profanity-loaded tirade last week against White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and then-Chief of Staff Reince Preibus, who Scaramucci accused of leaking damaging details about him to the media. Trump, known for wildly inappropriate comments himself, may initially have been amused by Scaramucci’s comments, but later changed his tune to call Scaramucci’s comments “inappropriate” when they garnered negative publicity. Others suggested that Scaramucci had begun to outshine Trump, who is the “only star” in his administration.
As a political scholar, one of the things that scares me about these events is their reflection of the president’s unwillingness to consider that he might be the source of many of his problems. Trump, after all, is responsible for his choices and for filling his staff with people like Scaramucci, Sean Spicer, and Michael Flynn, both of whom also resigned in the midst of Trump-created chaos. But rather than taking responsibility for the problems he’s created, Trump predictably escaped into his characteristic denialism and tweeted “No WH chaos!”
Of course, this is what America’s can expect from Donald Trump. A year ago next week, for example, 50 GOP national security experts warned that Trump is unfit and “dangerous” to our nation’s security and well-being. Earlier this year, a group of 35 psychiatrists at Yale echoed their concerns, saying our Commander in Chief has a “dangerous mental illness,” is “paranoid and delusional,” and is unfit to lead.
Clearly, disastrous decisions riddled with chaos is par for Trump’s horrific course. Scaramucci’s departure won’t change that. Nor will it save Trump, or the rest of us, from Donald Trump. As experts have told us, Trump himself the problem―even if he refuses to see it.
In just the past few weeks, President Trump has encouraged police brutality and then wrote it off as a joke. Reminiscent of his campaign rallies, Trump incited violence against CNN and the media, and then promptly discounted his inflammatory actions as having been taken “too seriously.” And just last week, Trump twisted the national Boy Scout jamboree into a self-aggrandizing campaign rally to spread propaganda against the media and attack now retired political opponents.
In the world according to Trump, Donald Trump is apparently never to blame for actions that draw deserved criticism and protest. Facts don’t seem to exist unless they serve him. When it comes to anything he can’t spin, Trump’s script is “Deny, deny, deny.”
This is the worldview of a man who is a danger to our society. The longer Trump clings to self-serving denial, the more he refuses to take responsibility for his actions, the more chaos will ensue. And things are likely to get worse long before they get better. After all, Trump is a compulsive liar who seems to believe in “alternative facts” and who moved the Doomsday Clock closer to midnight. Since his inauguration, he’s only gone downhill.
A CBS News poll recently reported that 52 percent of Americans describe the Trump administration as a source of “chaos.” Gallup further reports Trump’s approval rating stands at a cringe-worthy 39 percent.
The message here is clear: If President Trump has any hope of surviving his investigations for obstruction of justice and possible collusion with Russia, he needs to open his eyes. Instead of constantly lashing out, shuffling his staff, and then either blaming others or discounting the consequences of his actions, Donald Trump needs to take responsibility. He needs to start acting like an adult and as a president.
As President Obama did before him, Donald Trump needs to say “The buck stops with me.” He can start by admitting to himself and to the world that the White House is on fire, and the matches are in his hands.