GOP’s wealthy new egomaniac: Meet Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci

Ancient Tea Partyers aren't Republicans' only problem. They've got some much bigger miscreants now: Rich donors

Topics: GOP, Republicans, The Right, Mitt Romney, one percent, rich people, donors, Editor's Picks, Politico, Anthony Scaramucci, ,

GOP's wealthy new egomaniac: Meet Anthony "The Mooch" ScaramucciAnthony Scaramucci (Credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking)

As long as I can remember, the Democrats have been running from their hippie left. It all goes back to 1968, when the dean of the press corps of his day, Joseph Kraft, sounded the alarm: The Democratic Party and the elite media were out of touch with Real Americans and those Real Americans were not amused by what they saw in Chicago that summer:

Most of us in what is called the communications field are not rooted in the great mass of ordinary Americans–in Middle America. And the results show up not merely in occasional episodes such as the Chicago violence but more importantly in the systematic bias toward young people, minority groups, and the presidential candidates who appeal to them.

To get a feel of this bias it is first necessary to understand the antagonism that divides the middle class of this country. On the one hand there are highly educated upper-income whites sure of and brimming with ideas for doing things differently. On the other hand, there is Middle America, the large majority of low-income whites, traditional in their values and on the defensive against innovation.

In these circumstances, it seems to me that those of us in the media need to make a special effort to understand Middle America. Equally it seems wise to exercise a certain caution, a prudent restraint, in pressing a claim for a plenary indulgence to be in all places at all times the agent of the sovereign public.

From this was born the media’s decades-long effort to prove that they were the voice of Real America, even as the right relentlessly attacked them for being the tools of liberalism. And the 1972 convention fully convinced the Democratic establishment that the inmates had taken over the asylum and it was time to put a stop to it. From that point forward it was an article of faith that the American left was to be kept at arm’s length at best. In fact, “triangulating” against it became the Democrats’ favorite political strategy. For many years, metaphorical hippie punching was the best way for a Democrat to prove his Real American bona fides.

The Republicans, on the other hand, had no such problem. They systematically went about rebranding themselves from country club elites to the party of Real America. They too engaged in metaphorical hippie punching, but did so with an almost tongue-in-cheek glee by portraying the hawkish, economically conservative centrist Democratic elites as counterculture freaks and then sitting back and enjoying their howls of protest as they twisted themselves into pretzels trying to prove otherwise.

Those days finally ended about half a decade ago. No, it’s not that Democrats finally stopped running from their left. You’ll recall the disdain with which an administration that won with young people, weeping over Will.i.Am‘s hipper-than-thou “Yes we can” video, held the “professional left” when it spoke out against some of its policies.

You Might Also Like

“They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.They wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president.”

(All the best hippie punches contain the words “Michael Moore” or “Dennis Kucinich.”)

No, the recent change came from the other side. These days it’s the Republicans who are dealing with a bunch of radicals dressed up in funny clothes, spouting crazy slogans, yelling at politicians and basically acting out in public. Sure, it was useful in the short run to trip up the Obamacrats but it has become clear that despite the fact that they are a little bit gray and a little bit paunchy, they are every bit as embarrassing as those hippies were to the Democrats back in the day. Indeed, it turns out that the vaunted white middle America of Joseph Kraft’s day is rapidly turning younger and browner, so the process whereby the GOP establishment must try to distance itself from its “wacko-birds” has begun. (And the Democrats, naturally, will do everything in their power to ensure they are bound to each other with duct tape and super glue.)

But crazy hippies and ancient Tea Partyers aren’t the only “problem” for the two partisan political establishments. They’ve got much bigger miscreants in their midst: wealthy donors. This story in yesterday’s Politico about one wealthy egomaniac named Anthony Scaramucci, who’s bought the hype that being rich automatically assumes one must have great talent in all pursuits, illustrates the problem perfectly:

Scaramucci’s meteoric rise has tested traditional clenched-jawed mores in finance and especially in politics, where discretion and the ability to avoid attention are prized. The Mooch — who favors custom-made Loro Piana pinstriped suits and participated in a 2009 CNBC program called “Untold Wealth: The Rise of the Super Rich” that showed him walking by a golden harp in his living room — is not one to shun the spotlight.

In 2012, he boasted that he was “one of the top raisers” for Mitt Romney’s campaign, and about the time he spent at Romney’s New Hampshire lake house, while filling his Twitter feed with a mix of sensitive campaign finance information and a stream of backstage photos and glimpses of the Romneys and other top Republicans.

That’s the tip of the iceberg. The man’s high jinks make Donald Trump look like a prince by comparison.

The Democrats have their loose cannons too. There’s Hollywood, for one thing. But for the most part they give money to whomever the establishment wants them to and since they are professional performers they usually (but not always) understand the limits of their involvement. But the Democrats are having to deal with these Big Money egos as well. Both parties attended a recent confab organized by “the Mooch” where, despite the fact that President Obama was apparently ludicrously portrayed by many as a pitcgfork-wielding populist, they all agreed that Wall Street had been unfairly maligned and, darn it all, it’s got to stop. President Obama’s right hand Valerie Jarrett even went so far as to praise Frank Underwood, Kevin Spacey’s fictional sociopath politician, for his ability to “get things done.”

But what are they going to do about “the Mooch” and his ilk when they act like fools and embarrass them with crazy antics, as Sheldon Adelson does with his supplication rituals or major donor Foster Friess with his comments that women should hold an aspirin between their legs as a form of birth control? While the party establishments are free to shove the Tea Partyer in a tricorner hat or a hippie in a tie-dyed shirt aside when they try to influence the parties to follow certain policies, in this big money environment, it’s going to be very hard for them to shove aside fellows like “the Mooch.” As Willie Sutton explained when asked why he robbed banks: “That’s where the money is.” And whether they like it or not, these fellows are increasingly refusing to simply sign the checks or have an audience with “the man.” They aren’t even content to demand a specific return on their investments (if you know what I mean). Now that it’s perfectly legal and socially acceptable for these people to pour vast sums of money into politics, they are no longer willing to operate from the sidelines. They want to take the wheel and run the political system itself.

From this report about the big Mooch Meet-up, it sounds like they’re perfectly willing to wear a costume, dance a dance or juggle their wine goblets if that’s what the Big Money Boys want them to do — and the press will report it with blithe cynicism, as if that’s as natural as the sunrise. Will Joseph Kraft’s Real Americans (or the emerging new Real America, for that matter) go along?

Heather Digby Parton

Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...