«You can’t have a blind personality-driven party»
Hedge fund manager Anthony Scaramucci speaks his mind. He doesn’t hold back with his opinion. Two years ago, that was what got him fired from his post as White House Press Secretary after just eleven days. In a conversation with a journalist, Scaramucci made obscene and strongly derogatory statements about several members of the administration. The comments were published, and Scaramucci lost his job.
But Scaramucci isn’t bitter. His «15 minutes» of fame has made him a popular guest on TV shows, where he continues to speak out. He criticizes the racist statements of the US president and his erratic trade policy. Nevertheless, he expects that Trump will be reelected – because of the strong economy and the lack of opponents.
Mr. Scaramucci, is it President Trump’s strategy to focus on the cultural division in the country to win reelection?
If it is, it is a stupid strategy. Trump is going to win reelection anyway. He’s got an unbelievable economy and no adversary. The Democrats got a clown car from the circus. One is a bigger dope than the other. He’s obviously going to beat them. Why go in that direction, if you’re going to win 40 states.
He is trailing in the polls.
That’s bullshit. Trump was trailing in the polls against Hillary Clinton, and he beat her. Nobody likes the guy, that’s why nobody wants to admit it. In a social setting, people are afraid to admit that they like him, but then they close the door to vote, and they vote for him.
Many Americans are appalled by what the administration is doing, for example, how they treat immigrants at the border, putting kids in cages.
It’s appalling, and I spoke out against it. I spoke out against the racist tweets as well. But the guy is going to win because he’s got no adversary and he’s got a growing relatively good economy.
What do you think about the tweets, in which Trump told four congresswomen to go back to where they come from?
The tweets are racist. That’s no question. My grandmother came from Italy to the US. They said that to her. She produced three children, one which was my mom and two of whom fought in World War II. What do you guys want to do? Do you want to send my grandmother back? What’s wrong with you people? The name of the country is United for a reason. We may not like it, but we’re all here together: the Germans, the Italians, the Japanese, the Koreans. America is a country that was formed off of an idea. Not a bloodline, not a tribe, not a lineage. It was created off of an idea, which is why Abraham Lincoln called it the last best hope for mankind.
The economy has slowed down substantially, and the yield curve is warning of a recession.
The economy is not going to roll over by November 2020. The election is only 15 months away. You’re not going from 2,1% GDP in the second quarter to a recession. We need two successive quarters of negative growth to define a recession. You’re not getting that by November 2020.
How do you rate Trump’s economic policy?
By uncapping, deregulating, and delayering the administrative state, Trump has created growth. He created growth, but it’s below 3% where he wants it to be. He got a sugar rush last year with the tax cuts, but it’s now trending back to 2%.
Can the US grow at or above 3% for an extended period?
With the right policies, it can. But we don’t have an industrial policy, nor have we an infrastructure policy or an education policy.
The current trade policy isn’t helping the economy grow either.
Trade wars are totally wrong. The US could have teamed up with the Europeans. They have the same grievances against the Chinese as the Americans do. We could have teamed up without all the tariff nonsense. But Trump has got to prove that he can do it himself.
The tariffs are hurting the American consumer.
The tariffs are a tax on the American people. My middle-class cousins that are installing auto glass are paying the tariff. Chinese are not paying the tariffs. And it is also disrupting CEOs investment decisions. The irony is that his tax reform made everybody geared up to make long-term capital investments, but then he started playing tariff roulette and then people said wait, you can’t do that. Trump is mirroring Barack Obama. Where Obama lacked predictability with regulation, Trump lacks predictability with tariffs. It’s causing the same effect: It slows down investment.
Who do you think will be the nominee for the Democrats?
I have no idea. But I don’t see the scenario where anyone beats Trump.
Who would be the toughest opponent?
The polls say that Joe Biden would be the toughest one. But that’s because the President himself hasn’t gotten in there and smashed Joe Biden yet. Once the President starts breaking Joe Biden, Biden will not be able to do it. Biden can’t hold a football. He’s like the Rick Perry of the Democratic party. He’s a very smart guy, but when the lights are on him, and he’s under pressure, he can’t do it. Look at what Kamala Harris did to him at the debates.
What about Harris?
Trump would annihilate her. Harris is a nice person and very smart. I like her as a person, but she’s going to get destroyed by him. You need a street fighting brawler that has high intellectualism to beat him. Pete Buttigieg handles him better than anybody. But he’s not going to be the nominee, because he’s too young for our patriarchal society. Buttigieg is only 37.
Why does Buttigieg handle Trump the best?
He ignores the attacks. You can’t attack Trump when he’s attacking you. It’s part of his DNA. When Marco Rubio went to attack him, he got destroyed, Ted Cruz, destroyed and Hillary Clinton destroyed as well. Trump is a pig. The farmer will tell you, that you can’t fight with the pig because the pig will knock you into the mud, drag you around and oink. While you’re bloody and muddy the pigs laughing. You can’t fight with a pig. If Trump were coming after me, I would never go back at him. You have to go in a different direction and challenge him intellectually. Buttigieg is the only one who gets it. And Trump gets inside your melon. The minute he said that Beto O’Rourke had bad hand movements, it was over for the kid. It was like O’Rourke couldn’t get his hands in the right spot. He looked like the robot from Lost in Space.
What’s the most significant risk for his reelection?
The most significant risk for him is that he goes full-blown nativism and racism and then he’s going to lose the election. There’s a group of guys like me we can’t support that.
But you still support him?
Yes, absolutely. I want Trump to win reelection. But if he goes full-blown racist, then I can’t support it, and then he’ll lose the election.
Can Trump be less divisive?
Yes, of course, I have known the guy for 20 years. He was a very charming guy 15, 20 years ago. But he got pissed because the media was beating on him. He’s embattled now. And when you’re embattled, it creates a level of bitterness and acrimony in your personality. He is a very charming and gregarious guy. If he calmed down, he would win by 60%. But he can’t calm himself down.
Don’t people in the White House tell him that?
They are all a bunch of cowards. It should frighten you, that none of the elected Republicans have spoken out. What are you guys doing? Are you in a cult? Is he a demagogue? What the hell’s wrong with you? People have to tell him the truth.
Is there anyone who has influence over him?
Oh, no! Nobody has an influence. But if 20 guys tell him the truth, maybe he would change his behavior. Don’t you find it odd, that nobody is telling him the truth? I don’t care. I’m not holding back. I built myself from scratch and got my own money. I’m not beholden to anybody. I’m going to tell you what I really think.
Do you still feel at home in the Republican party?
Do I feel at home at the Republican party? I would say that the Republican party needs a facelift, an upgrade. You can’t let one personality co-opt the party. The President should be the leader of the party, but there should be facets of the part. You can’t have a blind personality-driven party.
But you still identify as a Republican?
It’s the only place where you get the elements from a policy perspective of meritocracy. There are some limitations, but by and large, the United States is still fairly merit-based.
The American dream is not dead?
It’s been hobbled, it’s injured, but it’s not dead. It would be harder for somebody to do what I’ve done. So we have to fix it. And the only way we can fix it is through elements of capitalism and free-market policies. We should have equal rights, but we have to be treated fairly.
Why did you go to work at the White House?
I went there because I like the President. He asked me to help him. I knocked three bad guys out of the White House with Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, and Steve Bannon. But I’m not a politician. You could tell that from my press conferences. I tell you what I think. Someone said to me after my press conference, what the hell is wrong with you? You can’t tell the truth from the press podium.
You can’t tell the truth, because it’s bad – tell that America can’t pay back the debt and that there’s going to be a decline in living standards for the middle class and the poor unless the United States government comes up with better policies. I’m happy telling the truth because I would like to fix it. People in Washington don’t want to fix it. They got a great game going, staying in power perpetually. American people suffer, and they’re indifferent.
Many people also feel left behind economically. Has globalism failed?
Globalism hasn’t failed. There have been unbelievable benefits from globalism, but it left out half of the population, and you can’t do that in a democracy. They weren’t helped to upload themselves into the global civilization. They feel left out and disgruntled. Then you’ve got immigration. Which, in many ways, is very good. But if you’re not training your existing population, it’s very threatening. They’re taking your job, and they’re lowering your ability to gain wages. So you go from a working-class that is aspirational – like the family I grew up in – to a working-class that’s desperational. Trump exploited that.
What have you learned from your time in DC?
I learned that I’m not supposed to talk to reporters. But obviously, I didn’t learn that. I learned that these are very ruthless people. You can’t trust anybody. What Harry Truman said was true. If you want a friend in Washington by a dog. Power drives people crazy. It’s like an infestation of the brain. Everybody is susceptible to it, myself included. But the founders were very smart. They diffused the power to protect us against tyranny, but you have to be self-aware enough to know that you’re just another human being and you could fall prey to it. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, Baron Acton said this.
Do you think that they will ever get the trust back into politics?
It depends on leadership. A good leader could get the trust back. But right now, every politician is lying when their lips are moving. Somebody from the BBC asked me who I felt that Trump is telling a lot of lies. Well, I think it’s wrong. But I expect him to tell lies, the same way Boris Johnson is telling lies. Politicians lie. I don’t want to sound cynical. I’m just observational. So if they’re going to lie to me, let me judge their actions. Let me judge the improvement of the economy. Let me judge if I have more disposable income in my pocket. Let me judge that.