Beware of the circular firing squads.
There comes a time in the life cycle of any dysfunctional organization when the frustrated leaders begin to turn on each other. It’s only natural. Things are going badly. People never want to blame themselves. So one by one, they turn on each other. Allies are identified as enemies. Scapegoats are singled out. Then, the villains of the moment are filled with lead.
Figuratively, of course, leaving them with no choice but to leak dreadful stories about the people who did them in.
Welcome to the West Wing of the White House, late-summer 2017. Sean Spicer’s gone. Reince Preibus is gone. Who will be dispatched next from Trump World?
Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House director of character assassination, has the hottest hand right now. In an f-bomb tirade to the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, he put a bead on Preibus, senior counsel Steve Bannon and the entire White House communications staff, correctly predicting that Preibus was a dead man walking as chief of staff.
But here’s the thing with these circular firing squads. The slaughter doesn’t end. Today’s assassin is tomorrow’s target. And on and on it goes.
The Mooch had barely hung up the phone when someone was leaking that, Deidre Scaramucci, was so fed up with her husband’s sycophantic love for Donald Trump, she’d filed for divorce even though she was nine months pregnant. A shot like that, wherever it came from, could not be left answered for long. So a Scaramucci crony named Arthur Schwartz promptly began tweeting unsavory rumors about Preibus’s personal life.
And just to stay where he likes to be, which is wherever the action is, the itchy-fingered president kept up his week-long twitter assault on his own “beleaguered” attorney general, Jeff Sessions. Only one question lingers there: Will the eventual cause of Sessions’ departure be homicide or suicide.
No one’s safe at times like these, including the man at the top. The circle narrows. All loyalties are in doubt. Get the morgue wagon over here. We’ll soon have another one.
Metro columnist Ellis Henican is a veteran journalist, bestselling author and frequent commentator on CNN and other TV networks. Follow him on Twitter @henican.