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Look at it this way A fandango with The Mooch

November 11, 2018

As Anthony Scaramucci promotes “Trump: The Blue-Collar President,” I keep noticing his insistence that his stint as director of communications at the White House was 11 days, not 10.

“Don’t gyp me out of 9.1 percent of my career,” he says.

Why would he care about a single day?

So I researched other brief tenures on the job. Back in 1987, longtime Associated Press journalist Jack Koehler resigned as President Ronald Reagan’s communications chief after 11 days when the media reported on his membership in a Nazi youth group when he was a boy in Germany.

On June 5, 2004, I chatted with Koehler — who lived in Stamford — just hours after Reagan’s death.

Yet I never thought of Koehler during The Mooch’s 11 crazy days in the summer of 2017. I didn’t even give much thought to Scaramucci being replaced by Greenwich’s Hope (225 days) Hicks.

Face it, Scaramucci would make most lists of memorable communications directors. He’s turned those 11 days into a franchise.

The Mooch has been on TV more in recent weeks than “Law and Order” reruns. He’s burnishing the brand with “The Mooch and the Mrs.,” a podcast that co-stars his liberal wife, Deirdre.

I caught an intimate stop on his book tour Friday night at the Darien waterfront home of Bob and Jan Dilenschneider, where the Long Island native addressed about 50 familiar faces from Fairfield County. On this night, our common ground is water, as Gatsby’s Long Island Sound roils on the other side of the glass during an evening squall.

Scaramucci has survived turbulent waters since losing his job after a profane interview he thought was off the record. He credits his kids, along with an unexpected call from a childhood hero.

“When you hit the ground you can’t be china, you gotta bounce like a superball,” Sylvester Stallone advised him.

So he keeps bouncing, admitting he got knocked out because of his own hubris.

Many reviews of the book, which have been positive, accuse it of sounding like a job application to return to President Donald Trump’s inner circle. But he’s still in the ring, and off the ropes. He consistently refers to Trump as “the president,” and refers to recent calls between them in which he is greeted as “Ant.”

His punchlines are quick and clean. He deems Beltway politics a “bloodsport.” He draws gasps when he observes “You imagine the worst person in your life? That’s the best person in Washington.”

“I don’t really think it’s a swamp. I think it’s a gold-plated hot tub. It’s got no drain on it,” he says.

His body language suggests he’s auditioning for a more glamorous spotlight. He made a cameo in the sequel to “Wall Street,” back when he was best known for his day job as an investor. He would like Rob Lowe to play him in a movie. Given the zillion memes he inspired after his appointment, it’s impossible not to think of him when seeing ads for the current flick “Bohemian Rhapsody” (you know what I’m talking about).

Scaramucci kept bouncing after becoming a rimshot for late night comics (Seth Meyers called him a “human pinkie ring”) and tabloid headline writers (“Adios Moochacho” the New York Post blurted).

But Scaramucci is anything but trivial. He may be the guy who became collateral damage in the Trump v. Media War, but he is doing what journalists should be doing: dissecting Trump’s success.

Pundits scoff at the title of “The Blue-Collar President” without bothering to crack open the concept. Scaramucci’s book explores how Trump hijacked the Republican Party, then claimed the base from the Democrats. Dismiss Trump. Ignore him. The 2020 Election Day will simply be Groundhog Day.

“You keep talking about people like that and they are not going to vote for your people,” Scaramucci says of so-called deplorables embraced by Trump.

He doesn’t hesitate to question some of Trump’s impulses, but laughs off others. He describes his initial shock at seeing a 75-inch TV in the presidential study mounted over the Lincoln portrait. “Do you love this guy?” he marvels.

He makes it sound like Trump is the only person he likes in Washington, D.C., and the best solution for clearing the field of people he doesn’t.

“No matter how much you hate him, he’s already part of the solution because he’s a metaphorical orange wrecking ball. He’s an orange bowling ball rolling into these pins. These pins have to be disrupted. They are terrible, terrible people.”

As the evening winds down, I ask him afterward about the 11-day record he may or may not share with Koehler.

“No, someone was shorter,” he parries. “Off the record — do you know who it is?”

Mangling rules of engagement over “off the record” ended his Washington career.

“You want to go off the record about a fact?” I respond loud enough for nearby observers to hear.

He bounces away for another photo, another autograph. But first he says, with the smile of a card dealer holding house secrets, “You’re a historian, figure it out.”

I can’t. History is just not what it used to be.

John Breunig is editorial page editor. Jbreunig@scni.com; 203-964-2281; twitter.com/johnbreunig.

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