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Beyond the circus

The need for character and determination will never be greater than in dealing with imminent world problems

Beyond the circus

Scaramucci, followed by members of the media (Associated Press/Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Washington journalists joke about having a front row seat at the circus. The amusement of some intensified on the last day of July as President Donald Trump fired Anthony Scaramucci from his post as White House communications director, just days after hiring him.

The in/out embarrassed a chaotic administration, but the short-term pain of acknowledging an unacceptable hire will have long-term benefits if all those involved learn important lessons from the fiasco.

Let’s begin by acknowledging the personal tragedy. The week before his firing, Scaramucci had called a New Yorker reporter and told him he wanted to “[expletive deleted] kill the leakers” in the White House. His profanity-filled rant against White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is too sexually graphic to repeat.

No matter what President Richard Nixon called his political enemies on White House tapes, or what Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was known to hurl in the West Wing, Scaramucci’s invective was alarming—particularly as the man newly appointed to lead a staff in communicating on behalf of the president.

In a tweet, Scaramucci said, “I made a mistake in trusting a reporter. It won’t happen again.” But this is blame-shifting 101: As a communications director he showed bad judgment in talking that way to a reporter, and as a human being he showed foul character in saying what he said. He became a Proverbs 10:31 example: “The perverse tongue will be cut off.”

Getting fired may be the best thing to happen to him, for his personal life is a mess. His wife of three years filed divorce papers on July 6. She was nine months pregnant and gave birth to the couple’s baby boy on July 24. Scaramucci was in West Virginia with Trump for the Boy Scouts Jamboree. Some conservatives were concerned about not only Scaramucci’s words but his worldview. He told the BBC last November that he’s “a gay rights activist.” He tweeted in 2012 that he was “For gay marriage, against the death penalty, and Pro Choice.”

Christians should resist the temptation to dance on his political grave. We should instead pray for mercy: God is not a cosmic bellhop, but He does make wake-up calls.

Firing Scaramucci may also be a wake-up call to Trump, regarding not only the use of vile language but also the importance of character. While the president was praising Scaramucci during his appointee’s brief tenure, he was deriding Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from Russia investigations.

Evan Vucci/AP

Kelly and Trump (Evan Vucci/AP)

Trump’s criticism of Sessions, known as a man of character, was wearing thin in one of the president’s electoral strongholds: Republican leaders in Sessions’ home state of Alabama defended the former senator. Meanwhile, Republican leaders in Iowa such as Steve Deace and Bob Vander Plaats tweeted that Trump needed to fire Scaramucci.

The good news in the late-July circus of tragedy was that Trump, well aware of White House turmoil, was willing to change course. White House chief of staff Reince Priebus resigned. Trump appointed a new chief of staff, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, who will try to impose some discipline. One of Kelly’s first directives was apparently: Scaramucci must go.

Our cover story, concerning North Korea, shows the need for a White House capable of discernment in making some life-or-death decisions. At the height of the Cold War during the 1960s and 1970s, the Soviet Union had nuclear missiles aimed at the United States, but American analysts concluded Soviet leaders were rational—and that proved true in 1962 when the Cuban missile crisis brought the world close to conflagration.

The North Korean dictatorship, by starving its own people and throwing its resources into nuclear weapons, already threatens South Korea and is rapidly moving to the point where its missiles could reach Japan and the western United States. The problem is not the missiles themselves but Kim Jong Un’s mental instability that might lead him to use them.

The Trump administration has several options, all bad. The tendency in any administration is to kick the can down the road, hoping the problem will lessen in four or eight years—and if it doesn’t, tragedy will come on a successor’s watch. But what if waiting turns sadness into a mega-tragedy greater than any the world has seen so far?

We’re not saying what kind of action the Trump administration should take. We don’t know. But it would be good to have confidence that discerning leaders are willing to act if action is essential. After a tumultuous July, let’s hope a retired Marine general can help America’s leaders move beyond circus to wise cohesion.

Jamie Dean

Jamie Dean

Jamie is WORLD’s national editor based in Charlotte, N.C. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.

Jamie Dean

Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. His latest book is Reforming Journalism. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

Comments

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  • John Kloosterman
    Posted: Tue, 08/01/2017 03:19 pm

    A solid article here.  Many challenges ahead for the administration, although one does wonder at the irony of acknowledging the importance of character in an administration like Trump's, particularly when it comes to the rhetoric employed.

  • Judy Farrington
    Posted: Wed, 08/02/2017 12:10 am

    Amen. Surely the prophet Jeremiah's eyes would have produced rivers of tears were he to have seen a vision of our world today.

  •  austinbeartux's picture
    austinbeartux
    Posted: Wed, 08/02/2017 10:09 am

    As a conservative Christian, I criticized Trump continuously during the Republican Primary and General Election.  He was literally my last choice.  I questioned whether he would flip-flop on core issues, e.g. abortion, limited government, conservatism, etc, but I must admit he has been consistently conservative, so I must give him credit for that.  But his time in office has been 100% consistent with his character/personality: chaos, unpredictability, showmanship, lack of self-control, tweet-crazy, inability to focus on the most important things, juvinile bravado, etc.  There will be clowns in every election, but his Presidency sadly falls directly onto the electorate.  It's the people's fault.  All that said, he's still better than Clinton would have been.