It would be hard to find two more politically and personally divergent people than Reince Priebus and Donald Trump. When President Trump picked the Republican National Committee Chairman to serve as his chief of staff, the relationship wasn’t predicted to last long. It didn’t.
After just six short months of non-stop scandal and chaos, Priebus was pushed out by incoming Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci. He is the shortest serving non-interim chief of staff in American history.
It’s quite surprising that Priebus managed to hold on this long, given their major differences, both personally and professionally.
First, examine the families behind the men. Reince Priebus has two children and has been married to his first and only wife since 1999. On the other hand, President Trump is on his third wife, Steve Bannon has been divorced three times, and Anthony Scaramucci’s wife just filed for divorce after his appointment as communications director.
In addition, Priebus is well liked by other members of the Republican Party and usually described as mild-mannered. That phrase does not fit descriptions of the other three’s behavior, at least as judged by their respective Twitter feeds.
Also unlike other staff, Reince Priebus has been a lifelong Republican. After losing a state legislature seat, he was the youngest person elected to be the Chair of the Wisconsin Republican Party in 2007. Four short years later he narrowly beat out Michael Steele to serve as the Chair of the Republican National Committee. Although Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012 was a major setback, Priebus successfully oversaw the transformation of the GOP that won them back the Senate in 2014.
Lifeline to reality
Reince Priebus was the last lifeline that connected Trump to mainstream conservatism and the Republican establishment. He’s the only one who has any connection or working relationship with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
Bannon has repeatedly called for the ousting of both McConnell and Ryan and President Trump hasn’t been much kinder.
In addition to losing the political relationships that Priebus brought to the table, there’s also his understanding of the Republicanism that will be lost. Run of the mill conservatism will be replaced with the alt-right of Steve Bannon and the Rockefeller Republicanism of Anthony Scaramucci. The core Republican ideology of Reaganism that Priebus represented won’t be there to moderate President Trump’s baser urges.
With Reince Priebus’ exit, it’s going to be an even bumpier ride going forward for the inexperienced White House. Look no further than the political amateurs that have been left behind. None of whom have the experience that is usually required for the positions that they occupy. None of whom have ever worked for the traditional party leaders that usually associate with the White House.
Steve Bannon, who remains as chief strategist, has yet to have worked in government or politics a full year. After a career in at Goldman Sachs, he worked as a producer Hollywood before taking over as executive chair of Breitbart News in 2012. He only joined the Trump campaign in August 2016. This dearth of experience is evident in the lack of action seen from the White House thus far.
Even Anthony Scaramucci has been politically involved longer. He was a bundler for Barack Obama in 2008, national finance co-chair for Mitt Romney in 2012, and fundraiser for Scott Walker and Jeb Bush during the 2016 campaign season.
That said, although he at least has political experience, it hasn’t always been for the right side of the aisle. How he will be able to lead a Republican White House’s messaging going forward is entirely impossible to say.
With those two politically inexperienced and volatile hands on President Trump’s shaky wheel, the White House train has never been closer to driving completely off the rails.
(Photo of Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on stage during the start of the convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in August 2012, by Win McNamee/Getty Images)