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Home » Columns » A Week Is A Long Time In The Trump Administration

A Week Is A Long Time In The Trump Administration

Publishing Date : 07 August, 2017

Stuart White
The World in Black-N-White

It is becoming increasingly obvious that if you want job security, whatever you do, don’t  accept a post in the Trump administration. 


Still only in office for a short time, the settling-in period has been  a series of comings and goings, reminiscent of an old-fashioned wooden weather clock which featured a man and a woman dressed in farming clothes, one of whom appeared from out of a little door to forecast sun and the other who appeared when rain was on its way.  Those little figurines, though they might have led an idle life here in Botswana, would make their entrances and exits with mind-boggling alacrity in changeable European weather conditions, rather like the constantly changing guard at Trumpington Palace.  


So true to form, as soon as the White House announced the  appointment of a new Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci, former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced his resignation, citing differences of opinion over the new appointment.  The world’s press corps breathed a sigh of relief at the imminent departure of the gaffe-prone Spicer.  In one press briefing he told journalists that Iran had attacked an American warship; it hadn’t and he had to be corrected by one of the journos in the audience. That was in February this year.  2 months later he excelled himself still further by stating that chemical weapons were not used in WWII and that Syrian leader Bashar-al-Assad was worse than Hitler.


 "We didn't use chemical weapons in World War Two. You had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn't descend to using chemical weapons….So the question is if you're Russia ask yourself is this a country, is this a regime you want to align yourself with. You have signed on to international agreements. At what point do they realise they are getting on the wrong side of history in a really bad way? This is not a team you want to be on."

As anyone who knows even the tiniest bit about World War Two well knows,  Hitler did not use chemical weapons on the battlefield, but he used gas chambers while murdering six million Jews and the Spicer’s rewriting of history could not have been made at a worse time, coming, as it did, in the middle of the Jewish holiday of Passover.

But as the saying goes, better the devil you know, for no sooner had Scaramucci’s name been announced, than he launched into what the press called a ‘foul-mouthed rant’ aimed at Steve Bannon, Donald Trump's chief strategist, as his feud with senior White House figures escalated.  He also accused Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff of damaging information leaks. In a phone conversation with a reporter for New Yorker magazine, Mr Scaramucci accused Mr Bannon, the controversial alt-right former media executive, of serving his own interests.

"I'm not Steve Bannon, I'm not trying to suck my own ----," he said…..I'm not trying to build my own brand off the ------- strength of the president. I'm here to serve the country." Priebus was the man credited with having hired Sean Spicer earlier in the year, an appointment that Donald Trump was said to have opposed. Well, after such a x-rated temper tantrum and tirade, no amount of backtracking and apologising was going to work and Scaramucci was fired before he had even officially taken up his new position, due to become effective in mid-August.

Of course the press had a field day.  If you look up the word ‘Scaramucchi’ or ‘Scaramouch(e) in the dictionary, you will learn that he was a stock character in the classical Italian Commedia dell’arte, a theatre form that also gave us Pierrot and Pierrette, Harlequin and Pantelone, all figures of fun; Scaramouche is described as ‘a boastful coward’ and a clown – well, if the cap fits……..

Seriously, you couldn’t make this stuff up and it’s hardly surprising that there have been several press and social media references to the phrase that Trump made famous in his reality television show The Apprentice.  Only time and history will tell whether Trump stays the presidential course and uses his prodigious power and influence to achieve something positive but it is certainly true that he was a huge success in his own right as host and head of the television show. 

Originally dismissive of reality TV, describing it as being for the ‘bottom-feeders of society’, he was immediately attracted to the idea of The Apprentice, realising at once the boost it would give the Trump brand.  And as soon as production began, he took it and ran with it, much to the delight of the show’s producers and later, the audiences who tuned in in their millions for a total of 14 seasons.  According to Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher in their book ‘Trump Revealed’ the original format had envisaged a different mogul as the star for each season – Richard Branson was pencilled in for one of them – but that all changed.

“That notion fell by the wayside during the taping of the first episode. The script for The Apprentice called for the host to play a relatively modest role. The show was about the contestants and Trump was to introduce the challenge that contestants faced at the start of each episode, then appear in a brief boardroom scene at the end, when he would decide which contestant had performed poorly and would not return the next week.  Trump took to his TV role as if he’d spent his life preparing for it.

The taping went on for nearly three hours, well longer than planned. A couple of days later, when NBC executives screened rough cuts of the boardroom scenes, they were unanimous: the show’s script needed to be revised. Trump’s scenes were gold. “After the first episode,” Gaspin recalled, “we said we want more Trump.”  So did the viewers, 20 million of whom tuned in to the first episode—an audience that would build to 27 million by the end of that first season. The show was built as a virtually nonstop advertisement for the Trump empire and lifestyle “I’m the largest real estate developer in New York,” Trump’s voice-over boasted. “I own buildings all over the place.

Model agencies, the Miss Universe pageant, jetliners, golf courses, casinos, and private resorts like Mar-a-Lago. . . . I’ve mastered the art of the deal and have turned the name Trump into the highest-quality brand. And as the master, I want to pass along some of my knowledge to somebody else.  What would become the show’s catchphrase, “You’re fired,” was not scripted. Although TV reality shows generally follow a detailed outline, Trump made clear from the start that he intended to just wing it.


He didn’t like the idea of memorizing lines. He would read the outline for the episode ahead of time, but once the camera was rolling, he would improvise his part, just as he always had at speaking engagements. In the first boardroom scene, when it came time for Trump to decide which finalist would not return the next week, he blurted, “You’re fired.” Backstage, the production crew immediately cheered the line, cementing its place in future episodes.”

Given his enthusiasm and total commitment to the show, it’s hardly surprising that he was disappointed at its eventual demise, not long before he decided to run for a top job himself.  Is it just me or is he running the White House like an extension of The Apprentice, offering a bunch of hopefuls a chance to shine or screw up and when they do,  treating them to his famous catch phrase ‘You’re Fired!’.  That would certainly explain a lot!

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