Scaramucci talking to Bill Kristol about how to get Trump off the ticket next year

This would be like finding out in early 1984 that a pair of former Gerald Ford advisors were plotting to have Reagan replaced as GOP nominee by some Rockefeller Republican.

I’m … not sure you grasp where the balance of power lies in the party as currently constituted, fellas.

Is Scaramucci even a registered Republican?

Anti-Trump pundit and veteran Republican operative Bill Kristol confirmed to CNBC in a few brief text messages that he has spoken to Scaramucci since the SkyBridge Capital founder had a public falling out with Trump this summer. Asked whether he has spoken to Scaramucci about trying to find another presidential candidate to replace Trump on the top of the GOP ticket next year, Kristol said: “Yup.”

But Kristol, who has been critical of Scaramucci in the past, wouldn’t go much further than that when describing his interactions with the former Trump surrogate.

“Have chatted with him, but working with him would be an exaggeration,” Kristol explained.

I doubt it’s even true. The “Bill Kristol trying and failing to organize a primary challenge to Trump” storyline is four years old and counting, to the point where it’s become a punchline about how ineffectual Never Trump is. I think Kristol himself probably just answers “yes” whenever he’s asked about it by a reporter anymore because he gets a laugh from the absurdity of the media still biting on this possibility. Could an insurrection against Trump led by establishmentarians be brewing within the GOP?

Ah, sure, guys. Go ahead and print that, by all means.

I do find Scaramucci to be an interesting addition to the Never Trump ranks, though, and not just because he’s an alumnus (barely an alumnus) of the Trump White House. For one thing, most Never Trumpers are diehards, who really do mean never when they say “never.” One gets the sense from Mooch that he could be back inside the Trump tent within a week, though, and that he’ll almost certainly end up voting for Trump next year on “lesser evil” grounds once the Democrats nominate some soft socialist like Elizabeth Warren. His recent spate of nastiness towards POTUS seems conditional somehow, just like Trump’s own nastiness frequently is. Either Mooch wants something from Trump and is willing to roundhouse him in the media until he gets it or it’s a pride thing triggered by Trump’s Twitter putdowns of him, with Scaramucci intent on showing that he’s capable of winning a war of words with King Troll. I feel like the rift could be healed in an instant. And yet he’s doing a solid imitation lately of a devout Never Trumper, as acidic in his assessments of Trump as, say, George Conway is.

The other thing about him is that he really is a sharp and colorful critic of Trump’s. The fact that he’s flamboyant sometimes makes him come off like just another of the clownish New York guys whom Trump traditionally has surrounded himself with, a la Michael Cohen or Dan Scavino, but he’s a Harvard Law grad who started his own hedge fund. He can put an argument together. This Vanity Fair conversation with him made me laugh more than once (Scaramucci’s print interviews, where he can cut loose, are always better than his TV interviews) but it also began — unusually for a Never Trumper — with Mooch crediting Trump on various ways in which he was more insightful about policy problems in 2016 than the rest of the GOP field. Most Never Trump commentary, even when it comes from similarly colorful critics like Rick Wilson, is relentlessly contemptuous of Trump, more or less just an exercise in inventing novel ways to insult him. Not Scaramucci’s. His grievances are more particular:

Okay, we’re putting the tariffs on; we’re taking the tariffs off; we’re putting them on; we may take them off. Hey, you can’t run a business like that if you’re a business leader. Business leaders large and small in the United States have said, “Hey, I gotta stop my capital investing. I don’t know what this guy is doing, because if he—if I start to invest in Mexico and he slaps a 20% tariff down there for some reason that I don’t understand, that’s gonna kill my business in Mexico. Let me wait this guy out.”

It’s a regressive tax. Okay, and moreover, it’s the least representative tax in our nation’s history, and let me explain why. We broke from England. We broke from them because our chant was no taxation without representation, and yet when you look at what Trump is doing with his tax, he’s using an arcane law that was established right after the Cuban Missile Crisis to give the president executive power to put on tariffs for national-security purposes, okay, and so you have one person deciding on this tax. It hasn’t gone through the legislature to be approved.

But some are less particular:

The red line was the racism—full-blown racism. He can say that he’s not a racist, and I agree with him, okay? And let me explain to you why he’s not a racist, ’cause this is very important. He’s actually worse than a racist. He is so narcissistic, he doesn’t see people as people. He sees them as objects in his field of vision. And so therefore, that’s why he has no empathy. That’s why he’s got his thumb up in the air when he’s taking a picture with an orphan. That’s why when someone’s leaning over the desk and asks [Nobel Prize–winning human rights activist Nadia Murad], “Well, what happened to your family members?”—they were murdered—he just looks at her and says, “Okay, when are we getting coffee here?”

You know, he doesn’t look at people—and by the way, if you and I were in his field of vision and he had a cold and the two of us had to die for him to get a Kleenex, you’re f***ing dead. I mean, there’s no chance. You understand that, right?

Funny, but also memorable shorthand for Trump’s narcissism. But Scaramucci goes on to criticize the emotional investment some Never Trumpers like Conway have made in hating on Trump 24/7, allowing that it may be justifiable but that it’s also counterproductive since it desensitizes people to meritorious criticism of the president. The more Trump’s enemies seem to be in the grip of “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” the easier it is to dismiss them. Mooch is going to be the restrained Never Trumper relative to the rest. At least until he’s back on the Trump train, which I’d guess will happen before year’s end.

He ends by saying that the party needs to find a primary challenger for POTUS, someone with more “panache” than Bill Weld: “We need an Arya Stark, okay? We gotta take this guy out because this is like the Night King. The minute the Night King is vaporized, all the zombies are gonna fall by the wayside, right?” Is he … suggesting himself? He also thinks Trump is going to shock the world by declaring next March that he won’t run for a second term after all, preferring to declare victory on having made America great again and bailing out rather than risk running amid an economic downturn that ends with humiliating defeat in November. I think that’s unlikely — it’d be hard psychologically for Trump to believe that the voters would reject him under any circumstances — but not impossible. It would be the ultimate Trump move, having turned the party into a personality cult devoted to him, to suddenly abandon ship in the middle of a presidential campaign with the GOP headed straight for an iceberg, whatever the ensuing chaos might mean for Republican fortunes.