Like anybody from Jersey with a vowel at the end of his name, I’ve learned almost by necessity to appreciate a good ethnic slur. What’s more, there’s no question newly appointed White House Communications Director would be right at home in the world of The Sopranos. If Donald Trump Jr. is a grown up version of A.J., then Anthony Scaramucci could be Christopher Moltisanti with a law degree from Harvard.
Nevertheless, I can’t but help think that even after Scaramucci’s vulgar tirade about Steven Bannon “sucking his own cock” went public, people making jokes about “mafia thugs” are missing the point. Anthony Scaramucci is not a product of Italian immigrant America, or Long Island, or “bridge and tunnel” New York. The new White House Communications Director, who grew up in the ritzy north shore town of Port Washington, and who has degrees from two elite universities, is the product of Wall Street.
When I say “Wall Street Comes to the White House” I’m not arguing that Wall Street’s ever been absent from the White House. In fact, Federal Hall, the very first White House, was actually *on* Wall Street. From breaking up the Homestead Strike to the Taft Hartley Act to the repeal of Glass-Steagall, the United States government has always done the financial industry’s bidding. What makes Trump and Scaramucci different is not only their class loyalty, but their style. Unlike Bill Clinton, who started the process of transforming the Democratic Party into a party of the oligarchy, or Barack Obama, who completed it, Donald Trump and Anthony Scaramucci don’t pretend to “feel your pain. Loaded with “fuck you money,” either of them could have walked right off the trading floor at Salomon Brothers in 1980s. Don’t kid yourself that just because Hillary Clinton took big payoffs from the banks that Wall Street is in any way “woke,” or socially progressive. Unlike the young Bernie Sanders supporters slandered as “bros” by the Clinton team on social media, the typical Managing Director at Goldman Sachs really is a “bro,” loudmouthed, racist, sexist and homophobic.
I was originally going to write that Trump’s mistake was in hiring the CEO of a Hedge Fund, not its public relations director, as his new Communications Director, that even on Wall Street, there’s always been some decorum in dealing with the media. But this terrific article by Heidi Moore would seem to indicate that it’s even worse than I thought, that Wall Street’s been openly bullying journalists for awhile. I suppose that you can never been cynical enough. It’s not so much that Scaramucci is a Wall Street CEO and not a gangster. It’s that Wall Street CEOs are literal gangsters. The mask is off. Mafia capos with Harvard Law degrees are making reporters offers they can’t refuse.
There’s every reason to believe that the White House team sees this as a model: It will not worry about the accuracy of what is published, only whether the tone is Trump-friendly. Of his new job, Scaramucci says, “It is a client service business, and [Trump] is my client.” Wall Street’s methods of fighting negative coverage are more extensive, brutal and personal than Washington’s. The reigning philosophy is: “I can win only if you lose.”