For decades, it has been customary for the former attendants of presidents and presidential candidates to cash in. The Clintons were a money train with no shortage of passengers, and Bill and Hillary themselves never shrank from turning political pain into financial gain. She’ll mint fresh millions from her new book, “What Happened,” and from engagements to promote it.
But the gold rush by some of the refugees from Trumplandia has a quickness and crassness all its own. I suppose that’s fitting. They got no loyalty from Trump, though he demanded it from them. They weren’t idealists in grateful thrall to some coherent vision or exalted principles that he was advancing. They were more or less flunkies for a bully whose top priorities have always been an immense fortune and immeasurable celebrity, though not necessarily in that order. Spicer and Scaramucci are paying their onetime boss the highest of compliments. They’re emulating him.
Corey Lewandowski, too. He didn’t have a particularly luminous résumé before Trump, and his year at the helm of Trump’s campaign was filled with fits of temper. He was even brought up on charges — later dropped — of manhandling a female journalist. But none of that hampered the swagger with which he opened his access-peddling, swamp-situated venture, Avenue Strategies. “A typical boutique lobbying firm might charge $10,000 to $15,000 a month,” my colleague Nicholas Confessore wrote about Avenue in The Times Magazine recently. “Avenue sometimes asked for as much as $50,000 a month.”
And let us never forget Mike Flynn, the epitome of the kind of barnacle that affixes itself to Trump. Even as Flynn was advising the Trump campaign on foreign policy, he was taking payments to represent Turkish interests. Why wait for a post-presidency windfall if you can engineer a pre-presidency one? It’s good that he struck while the iron was hot, because he now dwells in a frigid limbo on the far side of his days of White House service, which numbered all of 24. He’s weighed down by actual scandal, while Spicer and Scaramucci are weighed down only by their volitional debasement, and that’s apparently no drag at all.
The ethos of enrichment in this administration starts at the very top, with Trump and his family, for whom the presidency represents the ultimate branding opportunity. This separates Trump from his predecessors, none of whom had or held onto the array…