It may be exhilarating to be Anthony Scaramucci, but it’s exhausting to be with him. I have known “The Mooch” for 25 years and while he can be exasperating at times he’s certainly never boring. Scaramucci has what my mother called “the gift of gab,” although he’s not merely a talker. He is remarkably well read and articulate with an astounding memory for names and dates that has often made me look to see if he’s wearing an earpiece.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I was scheduled to meet Scaramucci at 1 o’clock on a Monday afternoon and arrived at his office at 12:50 p.m.
“Didn’t anyone call you,” said Pam, the receptionist. “He’s running late.”
I informed her that I was shocked (she didn’t seem to get the sarcasm) and I left to grab a quick bite at Burger Heaven around the corner. Scaramucci has a propensity for lateness, but it’s all part of his charm because once you sit down with him, he’ll give you much more time than you’ll need.
By 1:45 p.m., we were sitting in a large conference room that doubles as his office.
“Don’t judge people until you meet them personally,” said Scaramucci, who was speaking in a stream of consciousness while I feverishly took notes. “Don’t surround yourself with ‘yes people’ and don’t burn bridges.” “The third largest city in France is London. Everyone is leaving!” “Have you read 'The Age of Eisenhower'? It’s an unbelievable book.”
Suddenly we’re talking about reading "The China Mission" and Scaramucci is opining about The Marshall Plan, which I haven’t discussed since college. I ask him when he finds time to read and he says, “I’m a big Audible subscriber.”
I was spending a half day with Scaramucci to observe and report on his post-political life.
Scaramucci has become famous for his 11 days in the White House but he had a career prior to that, filled with significant accomplishments.
I asked him to name a big difference in his current life and he quipped, “My rise and fall in politics was a lot of fun for me. It’s easier to get a restaurant reservation.”
Scaramucci has never lacked self-confidence, but his sense of humor is equally self-deprecating. He described his recent appearance with Stephen Colbert as “a Yankee fan at Fenway Park.”
For me, one of Scaramucci’s great achievements is the SkyBridge Alternatives (SALT) Conference — held every May in Las Vegas — a gathering of business and government leaders representing a wide range of political and economic views for networking, seminars, food, and cigars. SALT is sponsored by Scaramucci’s company, SkyBridge Capital, a fund of funds with 40,000 clients (minimum investment $25K) and $10.2 billion invested.
I’ve written about SALT in the past, and what’s always impressed me is the bipartisanism of both leadership and general attendees.
Comedian Dennis Miller, while performing at a SALT luncheon I attended, wrongly assumed he was addressing a partisan republican crowd — trashed the Democrats (Obama was president at the time) and received more than a few boos during his act.
Scaramucci attracts an eclectic group of people (friends and colleagues) that can’t be defined as a whole politically, and this, coupled with his blue collar upbringing and Harvard law degree may help explain the public’s fascination with him.
SALT has never shown deference to any political party and has always been populated by people who are leaders in their fields. I’ve met Sam Zell, Mark Cuban, Valerie Jarrett, Ken Langone, Tony Blair, and Magic Johnson at SALT over the years and I’ve enjoyed an open exchange of ideas with everyone there.
“Some of the smartest people in the world are in this business,” said Scaramucci.
Suddenly the phone rings and it’s someone from the New York Mets calling about Scaramucci’s season tickets. I only hear his side of the conversation: “My partners wanna kill me. The team is almost unbearable to watch. Come back to me. I gotta get a little something.”
Then to me: “The Mets require Prozac and Valium to watch and the players need Viagra. I’ve been a fan since I was a kid. Are you gonna run this?”
Scaramucci — like me — can be tangential. He is fond of quotes, and during our time together he mentioned (more than once) that “Fortune favors the bold,” a Latin proverb which is also the official motto of the U.S. Coast Guard. He also declared that he “went to Washington with a chainsaw and a hockey mask.” Not long after that, he segued into a commentary about the Sykes–Picot Agreement, which I know nothing about, although Scaramucci seems to have memorized every date and detail, which caused me to imagine that if I crossed a history professor with a Ferrari salesman, I’d — maybe — have Anthony Scaramucci.
Suddenly Scaramucci’s mobile phone rings. “I’m at work, Mom. I’m in an interview.”
Then, back to business.
Podcaster Ted Seides showed up to interview Scaramucci for an hour, and he discussed — among other things — his work history: “On my first interview at Goldman Sachs, I wore a fully flammable, white on white, 100 percent polyester suit.” Scaramucci was invited back and got the job, but he bought a wool suit from J. Press for the follow-up interviews.
After Seides leaves we are joined by Tom Teodorczuk from Dow Jones Media who will also spend an hour with Scaramucci. Scaramucci’s new, forthcoming book, "Trump, the Blue-Collar President," already has 4,000 pre-orders, so he’s been autographing pages (to be inserted later) throughout the day.
Earlier, Scaramucci mentioned his appearance that day on CNN, where he discussed Trump’s immigration policy. “Don’t separate people from their kids. We’re better than that.”
He brought up the subject again with Teodorczuk and said, "I’m a supporter of the president, but I do call balls and strikes. This is a disaster.”
Scaramucci spent a good amount of time talking about government, specifically taxes.
“If you’re keeping 47 cents or less on every dollar you earn then you’re a minority partner in your life. When are we going to hold the government liable? That’s why Trump was elected. The best thing the Republicans have going for them is the Democrats.”
The Dow Jones reporter then poses a hypothetical question to Scaramucci about being 100 years old and he responds, “Do I have Viagra?”
We’re preparing to head over to the Hunt & Fish Club for a reception/press conference with members of the foreign press.
Pam the receptionist (who’s probably been with him forever) comes by and gives Scaramucci a kiss on the cheek. “We’re in love,” he says. “I need a 9:00 pm car to go home. Who is this guy I’m having dinner with? I have an 8:30 breakfast tomorrow at the Regency.”
We take an Uber over to the Hunt & Fish Club, which is teeming with members of the foreign press, all clamoring to meet Scaramucci. You can tell journalists are serious when there’s free food and drink and they’re not indulging themselves.
“Everybody get something to eat. I’m Italian and everybody has to eat and drink,” says Scaramucci.
Scaramucci proceeds to patiently answer questions for television, radio, print, and internet journalists for the next 90 minutes without so much as a sip of water and while he doesn’t have a hair out of place it’s closing in on 8:00 p.m. and I’m exhausted, perhaps because I’ve abstained from eating and drinking as well.
Some of the press conference takeaways:
“We’ve gone from an aspirational working class to a desperational working class.”
“Scott Walker got out of the race before Trump could nickname him.”
“Trump’s support is wider and deeper than people realize.”
I like Anthony Scaramucci. I don’t believe that a phone conversation with Ryan Lizza or an affiliation with Donald Trump should fully define him and erase or diminish his life’s work. He discussed trade with the foreign press and his answers were measured, detailed and backed up by numbers, but he didn’t profess to be an expert.
“I’m a business person, not a politician,” Scaramucci said earlier. “I believe in the free press. When you hit the press, that’s the first domino on the road to totalitarianism.
Lord Acton said “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
As I was wrapping up my night — Scaramucci still had a dinner to attend — I mentioned that he should run for mayor or governor.
“I’m just an entrepreneur,” he said.
Rob Taub has enjoyed an eclectic career in film, television, radio, and journalism. He has interviewed everyone from pop stars to presidents and he has written more than 250 articles for People Magazine, FoxNews.com, SI/Cauldron, The Huffington Post, and Thrive Global. Rob is a respected Diabetes Advocate and Obesity Ambassador, writing and speaking regularly about Type 2 diabetes and health. Follow him on Twitter @robmtaub or at www.RobTaub.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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