As we hit the six-month mark of the Trump presidency, the White House is mired in the disarray inevitable when the host of The Apprentice ends up in the Oval Office.
Trump the campaigner was a master communicator, focusing primarily on issues central to his base’s worldview: immigration, economic and ethnic nationalism. In particular, he pushed a populist rejection of the status quo in Washington, D.C.
If Trump was a virtuoso campaigner, he is a neophyte in government. The signature promises of the Trump campaign — repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, building a wall on our Southern border, pushing through a transformative infrastructure bill and reforming the tax code — have yet to materialize.
Given his refusal to learn how to craft policy, it's no surprise.
Indeed, Trump’s governing style, unique among modern presidents, is based on communicating with his voters, rather than playing a key role as a persuasive legislative force. The president values popularity over results.
Utilizing his Twitter account and the communications arm of the White House is central to his strategy.
If the past week is any indication, the president has been displeased with the way his so-called communications office has been faring during his tenure.
At the end of last week, the White House experienced the biggest personnel shakeup since the resignation of Michael Flynn — the hiring of Anthony Scaramucci as communications director and the resignation of press secretary Sean Spicer.
This is particularly significant since, as recently as early June, Spicer took over much of the role of the communications director when Michael Dubke stepped down.
Spicer’s time as press secretary was rocky. It was characterized by his attempts to communicate his understanding of the President’s positions, only to be undermined — and often castigated — by Trump within hours on Twitter.
With Spicer gone, and Scaramucci in, should we expect a new communications strategy from the White House?
While the new strategy is unlikely to drive any policy changes, Scaramucci has made clear that he intends to defer entirely to the president when it comes to communicating, with, well anyone.
On his first full day on the job, Scaramucci took questions from the press during a live briefing. When asked how he would deal with the President’s tweets, he responded:
“Here’s what I will tell you: I love the President, and the President is a very, very effective communicator. He’ll use social media — I think he’s got — if I get this wrong I know I’m going to hear it from him so I hope I don’t get it wrong — is it 113 million or 114 million? I know he’s picking up about 300,000 followers a day, God bless him.
"And so to me, I think it’s been a very effective use of reaching the American public directly and so, listen, I welcome him continuing to do that. ”
Scaramucci has been hired for essentially one reason. Instead of attempting to rein Trump in, he is going to let Trump off the leash.
In truth, there is only one de facto communications director in the Trump White House: the real Donald Trump.