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‘The moment when it really started to feel insane’: An oral history of the Scaramucci era

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A week in Washington summarized by Monica Hesse, Ben Terris, and Dan Zak in the Washington Post:

Historical eras are usually defined retrospectively: wait 10 years, analyze the major players in a big event, figure out what it all meant. But who has the patience for that now, when every week feels like a year and Monday is a blur by Friday?

Last week, July 24 to 28, was a news and spectacle avalanche. The White House press secretary had just resigned. It was Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci’s first day. The president was at Twitter-war with his own attorney general. Along with Jared Kushner’s closed-door testimony, and a bizarro Boy Scout Jamboree, and pants-wetting news from North Korea, and the dramatic return of a cancer-stricken John McCain, and, and, and.

So we tried to wrap our arms around each bonkers news cycle and re-create for posterity what it was like to be alive for just one week in 2017.

Presenting: An oral history of the Era of the Mooch — condensed and edited for clarity — as told by senators, Boy Scouts, soldiers, journalists, parents, talking heads, Wall Street traders and the CEO of an arcade-game company in Florida.


The White House’s “American Heroes Week” starts, and at 8:49 a.m. — as Kushner is about to testify — the president calls Attorney General Jeff Sessions “beleaguered” on Twitter.

Kat Timpf, Fox News host and libertarian columnist: We were talking a lot about Jeff Sessions and that whole situation is kind of, you know — we’ve never seen anything like that before. What’s. Happening.

Matt Schlapp, chair of the American Conservative Union and Trump surrogate: So much happened last week, it’s hard to even know where to start.

Max Boot, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations: His weekly Saturday-morning meltdown was especially severe this week. You’re just trying to catch up, and then I’m catching up to the reactions to the tweets. It’s like being woken up with a pitcher of water on my face every morning.

Robin Springer, Trump supporter and arcade-game dealer in Yulee, Fla.: I’m mad at him for getting on Jeff Sessions. I have no problem with raking someone over the coals, but it needs to be done in private. Jeff Sessions — what a nice man.

In the afternoon the president departs for West Virginia to speak at the quadrennial Boy Scouts Jamboree.

Eli Stokols, Wall Street Journal: I was the pool reporter on duty the day of the Boy Scout Jamboree. We rolled to the Jamboree down this dirt road and came upon an amphitheater.

Jarren Cook, 15, Scout from West Virginia: I’ve been in Scouts for 10 years. I’m doing my Eagle project building benches at a state park. That morning was pretty calm. . . . They gave us boxed dinners with turkey sandwiches and fig bars.

David Bender, 15, Scout from Indiana: Secret Service had shut down the whole area. We had to go through security. I was in my seat by 2:30.

Stokols: You didn’t realize until you walked into the amphitheater that it was like a giant campaign rally. These are probably the biggest crowds he’s seen since Inauguration Day. And knowing how Trump feeds off of crowds — you know this is now going to be a thing.

David: I know the speeches aren’t supposed to be political. I was hoping to hear how we can help our communities and embody Scouting values. When he said, Who the hell wants to talk about politics? — I wish you could have seen my face cheer up.

Stokols: When he said, “Who the hell wants to speak about politics?” it was an immediate red flashing light to me that things were about to get political.

The president proceeds to deliver an address lambasting the “fake news media” and the Washington “cesspool.” He joked about firing his health and human services secretary — who was onstage with him. He told a meandering story about yachts. And he sneered at Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Jarren: What he did was, he said, “Did Barack Obama ever come to a jamboree?” And we all said, “Nooooo!” Because he had never came to a jamboree. A president should take the time to support Boy Scouts.

David: When he said, “Barack Obama,” I screamed “Oh my God,” and put my hands over my head. It was so unreal. I thought I was in a dream. He got the crowd to boo. It made me so sad.

Jarren: I remember when he said not to lose momentum on anything you do. It reminded me to never give up.

Timpf: It’s a strange thing to use your time in front of tens of thousands of teenagers to brag about your election win and your partying days in New York.

Stokols: When you’re covering a speech like that, it’s like a microcosm of covering the whole presidency. You’re just treading water — you’ll fixate on one thing that’s kind of wild and then you’ll miss something else. I missed the “Under the Trump administration you’ll be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again when you go shopping” thing because I was so busy trying to make sense of the yacht story.

David: There were disagreements all over camp. Some people saying “F Trump,” some people saying “MAGA.” I heard there was a troop from New York that had a troop from Texas right next to them and the leaders had to keep them separate.

Jarren: I went back and charged my phone on a solar charger. Then I organized my tent, and we took our showers by 9:30 because quiet time was at 10.


The day starts with another Twitter drubbing of Sessions. . .

Continue reading. And so it goes, through the week.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 August 2017 at 5:06 pm

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