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On ethics of advisers' China deals, Trump goes case by case

Anthony Scaramucci, then a senior adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, talks to reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. 

If you even care at all, by now you're caught up on the most-dramatic-rose-ceremony split between Anthony Scaramucci and President Donald Trump: On Friday on "Real Time with Bill Maher," Scaramucci said there are "certain things" Trump has done "that are absolutely indefensible." Trump lashed out Saturday at the apostasy with a tweet:

"Anthony Scaramucci, who was quickly terminated (11 days) from a position that he was totally incapable of handling, now seems to do nothing but television as the all time expert on 'President Trump.' Like many other so-called television experts, he knows very little about me....."

On Sunday, Scaramucci suggested that Trump is melting down, saying, "A couple more weeks like this" and Republicans will have to "replace the top of the ticket in 2020."

On Monday, the president clapped back again with this tweet:

"Scaramucci, who like so many others had nothing to do with my Election victory, is only upset that I didn't want him back in the Administration (where he desperately wanted to be). Also, I seldom had time to return his many calls to me. He just wanted to be on TV!"

And so it goes. As a card-carrying, O.G. never-Trump Republican, I'm almost tempted to cut Scaramucci some slack, welcome him to the fold and assure him that this was inevitable: His bromance with Trump could never last because Trump is an utterly faithless creature for whom support is never enough: Trump demands humiliation and subjugation, not counsel and insight. It only took Scarmucci's mild chiding - that Trump's unseemly response to the mass killings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, including his recent visits to those cities, was a "catastrophe" - for Scaramucci, the former White House communications director, to hop off (or be tossed from, depending on your point of view) the Trump train and dutifully sign up for The Resistance.

But before Scaramucci gets his own #WokeMooch hashtag, let's check his credentials.

Yes, he's had it with Trump, but there's something that grinds about the road-to-Damascus conversion narrative of the president's former confidante and fellow New York blowhard. There's a whiff of a reality-TV tease, the aroma of a pro-wrestling kayfabe, the faint stench of a canned I'm fired? No, you're fired! melodrama, mostly because none of Trump's character flaws were hidden from Scaramucci or anyone else in the enabler class: The short-fingered, short-tempered vulgarian occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue didn't just spring his semi-literate, Twitter-raging, race-baiting, self-declared-private-parts-grabbing, logic-averse, serial-lying and crony-coddling governing style last week - he's been this guy all along. And Scaramucci, and his ilk, have defended him, touting his alleged brilliance every step of the way.

It raises the question: Is Scaramucci on an all 'shrooms and bootleg vodka diet? Does his circle of friends consist primarily of members of the Trump University dean's list? Or is it more likely he always knew Trump was a trash-talking clod before getting behind him and later taking a West Wing job? Odds are that Scaramucci had seen Trump up close and personal, the president actively governing as a policy-allergic blowhard, when The Mooch gave him all those glowing reviews. So before deciding whether to stamp or yank Scaramucci's never-Trump card, it's also worth asking: Was Scaramucci's shtick performative then, or is it performative now?

Mr. Mooch, did you mean it this week when you said Trump is "mentally declining" and "creating a corrosive, socially dividing cancer in the country"? Or did you mean what you wrote in your book just last year that the job of president "requires the same quick thinking and ingenuity as working in the private sector. This is why Donald Trump is fundamentally suited for the office."

Because, I mean . . . Trump inherited daddy's real estate money, thought the USFL was good business, ran a failed airline and - good lord - screwed up running casinos. This president was never that man. Not on his best day.

Media also-rans and Twitter denizens have played a parlor game these last few years, arguing back and forth about "how you got Trump"; from the earnest, but weaksauce argument that liberal elites' "sneering condescension" and political correctness propelled Trump's rise, to the did-these-clowns-really-waste-Internet-on-this? theory: "Your Refusal To Date Conservatives Is One Reason We Have Donald Trump."

But you don't need to appoint a crackerjack special counsel to figure this one out. Even a patsy like former attorney general Rod Rosenstein could solve this one. You got Trump because people, like Scaramucci, decided to caddy for Trump while he gave himself an extra, um, stroke.

In the last few years, an ensemble cast of pathetic characters ranging from Omarosa Manigault-Newman to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., have, at one point, been on record lambasting the president and, at other points, chirped out his praises like so many self-owning mockingbirds. The Mooch is just one of dozens, perhaps hundreds, many of them old hands in Washington, who darn sure knew better, who got the part and played their role in rationalizing Trump's pathological presidency. No, he's not alone. But Anthony Scaramucci is how you got Trump.

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Rick Wilson is a Republican political consultant, a Daily Beast columnist and the author of "Everything Trump Touches Dies: A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever." He wrote this for The Washington Post.

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