Anthony Scaramucci’s Twitter bio once read, with heroic simplicity, “American entrepreneur.” His title is now the rather pedestrian “Assistant to the President, Director of Communications.” On the one hand, this is a step up–in the aftermath of his famous New Yorker meltdown, he is reaching for a bit of gravitas, emphasizing his importance in the bureaucracy. And he now has an actual job. But there is also something a little tragic in this development. The Way of the Entrepreneur is a calling, not a job. Given Scaramucci’s simultaneous rise to the director’s office and decline into the bureaucracy, one might therefore wonder if the Mooch is, in fact, still on the loose.
As we saw in KFTAOA #4: The Entrepreneur, the figure of the entrepreneur is a peculiar combination of leader and functionary. Its literal, French-derived meaning is “one who undertakes something,” and it originally referred to a function within the hierarchy of a firm–the “carrying out of new combinations” for the capitalist whom he serves, wrote Joseph Schumpeter. It has more recently taken on the mythic aura of “innovation,” though, and is now routinely used with the implied adjective “visionary” just before or the added title “and Thought Leader” just after. This was clearly Scaramucci’s meaning. Like many of the self-described #entrepreneurs and #ThoughtLeaders and #agile #doers and so forth that follow unfortunates like me on Twitter, Scaramucci is famous for following hundreds of thousands of people on Twitter, always trawling for new followers and clients. Thirstily hustling your personal brand at all times is a better look on Twitter than it is when you are the “Assistant to the President,” though.
As I wrote in the earlier post: in an age of austerity, when most people’s sense of control over their lives is contracting—due to indebtedness, precarious employment, or lack of employment altogether—space emerges for a demagogic hero who stands for agency, material success, and moral determination all at once. This is obviously part of Trump’s appeal, and the actual moral barrenness of his business heroism is one reason why it should not be emulated (Better Skills!) by those claiming to oppose him. It’s also the barely beating heart of the Mooch brand: the success swagger, the hairspray, the refusal to apologize for describing a colleague’s interest in auto-fellatio in a national magazine, etc.
At the same time, it’s been pointed out that Scaramucci is made in the image of his boss, which makes him something of a classic entrepreneur, as his subservient new Twitter banner picture makes clear. He carries out combinations for the Boss. But his imitation of the alpha hand gestures and signature tics of the President are also an attempt to inhabit the role that Trump plays of the visionary entrepreneur of more recent mythology. Who knows—and really, who cares–how long Scaramucci’s current job will last. As long as he is a Visionary American Entrepreneur at (what passes for his) heart, the Mooch will always be on the loose. And yet: for this reason, the Mooch has never been on the loose.