After just 10 days as White House director of communications Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci has been fired.
His tenure, though brief, was a fitting summary of his boss’s time in office to date, characterised by fire fighting, outlandish briefings and palace intrigue. The latest bizarre segment in a White House drama unmatched by fiction. It was, in short, entertaining.
From ‘The Mooch’s’ on-record expletive-ridden briefing to the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza last week, to Trump’s bizarre recounting of French history in his most recent New York Times interview the administration is, frankly, hilarious. Saturday Night Live and late-night show hosts have made White House staffers, previously unknown outside of Washington, global celebrities.
It is, without doubt or hyperbole, the greatest show on earth, in which we are all part of the live audience.
But I’m not so sure it’s funny any more.
The sheer incompetence of the individuals tasked with running the most powerful country on earth is staggering. It appears as though the enormity of the daily tasks the faced by the White House, simply by being the White House, is lost on it’s occupants.
The President himself looks increasingly shambolic, as he plays political whack-a-mole via Twitter, more often than not to deflect from the legal investigation closing in around him, or his legislative failures.
It is easy, therefore, to become excited by his next tweet, or muse over who he will sack next, but by doing so we risk joining him in demeaning his office.
When he threatens to pull government subsidies to insurance companies under Obamacare he is playing with people’s lives. When he tweets that transgender service members are no longer allowed in the military, he plays with livelihoods. And when he blames China for the escalating crisis with North Korea, refuses to admit wrongdoing Russia, and picks sides in ever more complicated Middle Eastern politics, he alienates allies and endangers us all.
This isn’t a game. It is not a family business you can drive into the ground and be bailed out by the banks. People live and die on Presidential orders.
A country that, sick of politicians voted for a businessman and tv show personality, has been left with the ultimate politician – a nepotistic, fickle and thin skinned egotist who puts his family before the law and himself before the country.
But America isn’t alone. Although we have been spared the dizzying heights of insanity currently gripping the US, the UK’s very own Brexit show has little more in the way of a cohesive plot or reliable characters.
The near constant briefings against cabinet members, by cabinet members, since the election, has left no doubt about the ill prepared nature of the British government as it goes into Brexit negotiations with a bloc which has far less to lose. Ministers are putting their party before their country and may destroy both in the process.
Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn heads a Labour Party emboldened by the fact it still exists at all after the June election, but without a coherent Brexit policy of its own.
In a moment when both sides of the Atlantic are in need of adults in-charge who are willing to make decisions and resist the petty internal politics that excite their respective lobbies, it appears we are in dangerously short supply.
The political play-by-plays are enthralling and will surely inform the history books long after we are left to deal with the consequences of this era of incompetence, but filling news pages is no substitute for leadership.
I don’t have a solution. But for now the least we can do is center our discourse on the issues, and not the images, in the hope our leaders do the same.
Although it was Senator McCain’s vote (and showmanship) that dominated the newsreels last week, the failure by Republicans to end repeal Obamacare had its origins in grassroots politics; voters calling their senators and cornering them at town halls.
In his final address President Obama said we must take responsibility for the politicians we elect. Now is the time to demand they meet our collective challenges with clear heads and a willingness to make political sacrifices for the sake of their countries.
The show will go on, but at some point we must stop laughing and ask the clowns to leave the stage.