The White House on Friday installed Wall Street hedge fund manager Anthony Scaramucci as its new White House communications director. Sean Spicer, White House press secretary, announced his resignation on the news (well, somewhat ahead of the news) although he will stay on in his position for a few more weeks.
In addition to chronicling Spicer’s “abrupt and angry departure,” news stories scrambled to provide information on Scaramucci, who is well known in political and financial circles, but not a household name.
Depending on where you get your news, he was alternatively described as a "wealthy financier" or a “loudmouth Wall Street creep.” Other descriptors include “smooth-talking Long Island native” and one of President Donald Trump’s “most aggressive television surrogates.”
NBCNews stuck to a pretty objective script, providing biographical information from one of Scaramucci’s books. From the article:
Scaramucci was raised in a working-class Italian family in Long Island, New York — not too far from Trump's childhood stomping grounds in Queens, where Scaramucci’s father was a construction worker, according to his book, "Hopping over the Rabbit Hole: How Entrepreneurs Turn Failure into Success."
In the book, Scaramucci recalls working odd jobs to help fund his college education — with his father also pitching in for his schooling — and struggling to balance his working-class roots with big-city dreams.
"Coming from a middle-class Italian American family on Long Island, you were always fighting for people to take you seriously. When someone slighted you, you remembered it," he wrote. "Embarrassment and shame were the worst feelings of all."
Scaramucci got an economics degree from Tufts, a law degree from Harvard and then landed a job at Goldman Sachs, where he eventually rose to vice president. He gave money to Barack Obama in 2008, supported Mitt Romney in 2012 and was an outspoken critic of Trump until June 2016, when he did an abrupt about-face.
From The Atlantic:
Scaramucci bet big on Trump, advising, raising money, and vouching for him through the fall before joining his transition team after the election and angling for a White House post. He was originally pegged to lead the White House’s office of public engagement and sold his asset management firm, SkyBridge Capital, in preparation for taking a senior administration job. But Scaramucci was reportedly blocked by Reince Priebus, the chief of staff, and instead he was rerouted to a post at the Export-Import Bank, where he’s been working since June.
One of the qualities Trump has said he admires about Scaramucci is his mastery of TV interviews. As the Washington Post noted:
“The president has been particularly taken in recent weeks with Scaramucci’s hard-charging and frequent defenses of his administration on cable news — the gold standard for Trump. The president also was impressed with how Scaramucci — known as “the Mooch” — ferociously fought back against a CNN article about himself, ultimately leading to the resignation of three CNN staffers involved with the story.”
Those TV interviews provide plenty of fuel for those who are inclined not to like Scaramucci on a number of fronts. But not mentioned in any articles I saw was a book he wrote that shows a potentially softer side: Goodbye Gordon Gecko: How to find your fortune and not lose your soul.
According to its Amazon review, in the book “Scaramucci describes how a better understanding of people, capital, and culture can be used to enrich one’s life, financially as well as spiritually. With smart and engaging prose, the book:
• Discusses how the best manifestations of ambition, entrepreneurship and mentoring can lead to a life that not only fulfills financial obligations, but also leaves a lasting legacy
• Describes ways in which Americans and American companies can act to avoid the kind of crisis that crippled the country’s economy
• Details how to build a core set of values to discover wealth on one’s own terms
Given the turmoil in financial markets over the past few years, many people are reevaluating what it means to be “rich.” Goodbye Gordon Gekko shows how it’s possible to be well-off without all the trappings of wealth.
So which Scaramucci will head the White House communications team? Will we see a loudmouth Wall Street creep or Gordon Gecko's antithesis? Fascinating times, these.