A person familiar with Parscale’s views told me that the campaign “took a toll on every aspect” of his life, and some of his own family members refused to talk to him because of his work on Trump’s behalf. He had thought that Trump was loyal to him too, but came away believing that the president had “hurt him,” said this person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to be candid. Still, “half of America” feels it was “a great thing” that Trump became president in the first place, and Parscale helped make that happen. That’s justification enough for Parscale, who’s convinced the job was worth it, the person told me.
Like Parscale, Alan Dershowitz weathered a biting social backlash. The Harvard law professor emeritus, who spoke on the president’s behalf during his impeachment trial, has represented unpopular figures in the past—O. J. Simpson among them. Nothing compares to the fallout from defending Trump.
After Trump was acquitted, the 82-year-old got a letter from someone he knew telling him that the person could “no longer share society with you,” Dershowitz told me. An agent told his daughter, an actor, that she should change her last name if she hoped to get more roles. Dinner invitations have dried up—though that might actually be a blessing. “It’s so easy for me to socially isolate [during the pandemic] because no one wants to talk to me because I defended Trump in front of the Senate,” he said. “I lost 10 pounds on what I call the ‘Trump diet’ because no one invites me to dinner.”
So was it worth it? I asked. It was, he said. And in any case, “isn’t it better that he was thrown out of office by a vote for the people than by 100 senators?” Dershowitz said. “Isn’t that better for the country?”
An irony of the Trump era is that the same chaotic atmosphere and haphazard management that drove some aides out is what made the job attractive to others in the first place. Because Trump cycled through so many members of his staff, the survivors had ample opportunities to advance, and because Trump refused to heed gatekeepers, any number of aides wandering into view had a chance to talk to him directly. “I found the wide-open space exhilarating, and it got my adrenaline pumping every day,” Joe Grogan, who led the White House’s domestic-policy shop before leaving this spring, told me. (Grogan relayed a story in which the president randomly asked a deputy press secretary to help free the rapper A$AP Rocky from jail in Sweden. “You can do it,” Trump told the press aide. It’s not clear whether he was joking.)
Jonathan Rauch: What Trump has done to America
Anthony Scaramucci was among those who initially rose in Trumpworld because of the president’s willingness to follow his own idiosyncratic hiring instincts. But just 11 days after “The Mooch” arrived in summer 2017—with a swagger and a mandate to stanch press leaks—he was gone, dumped after a profane call with a New Yorker reporter. Scaramucci describes his relationship to Trump as following a distinct parabolic arc. “Okay, this is an unsavory guy and a distasteful guy, and I probably shouldn’t be associated with him,” he told me. Then comes an acceptance that Trump is a fellow Republican who’s heading the party. “Now you’re looking for reasons to like him—and he does provide those reasons.