How Scaramucci could have avoided his fate

  • White House communications director Anthony "The Mooch" Scaramucci's brief and rocky tenure came to a sudden end Monday.
  • He's one of four men who have already held the role so far showing just how tough it is to hang on in the Trump White House.
  • Here's what his successor can learn from Scaramucci.
Anthony Scaramucci stands by during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, July 21, 2017.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
Anthony Scaramucci stands by during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, July 21, 2017.

Former White House communications director Anthony ("the Mooch") Scaramucci was gone before he had a chance to unpack. His brief and rocky tenure came to a sudden end Monday afternoon when he was ousted at the request of new Chief of Staff John Kelly.

Scaramucci's ouster was stunning, but makes sense. As Ryan Lizza pointed out in The New Yorker Monday, "No chief of staff would want to step into the role with a communications director who seemed to be super-empowered by the President and was talking to reporters as if he, not the chief of staff, ran the White House."

John Kelly certainly wouldn't tolerate end runs to the Oval Office, or embarrassing behavior. And Scaramucci's now infamous and vulgar rant published by The New Yorker on Thursday July 27 was clearly an embarrassment.

White House communications director in the Trump administration is clearly a precarious position. The Washington Post reported Monday that four men have served in that role less than a year in, with an average tenure of 44 days.

So how could Scaramucci have avoided his fate. And what can the next White House communications director do to make the job last? Here are some recommendations.

First, have character but don't be a character. Chief of Staff Kelly is clearly a man of character whereas the Mooch was just as clearly a character straight out of "Goodfellas Go To Washington." It clearly wasn't a match. The next communications director will have to be a person of integrity and sound judgment to succeed on Team Kelly.

Second, focus first on discipline, second on discipline, and third on discipline. Kelly is a retired Marine Corps general, and in the Marine Corps discipline is of the utmost importance. So it isn't surprising that Kelly reportedly wanted Scaramucci gone because of his lack of discipline.

Third, strive in particular for message discipline from the White House. As CNN reported Monday, Kelly's firing of Scaramucci provides hope in the GOP establishment "that Kelly will bring much needed message and personal discipline to a White House that has shown little of either."

Kelly is determined to shift the focus from distractions to a disciplined effort at tax reform and other major items on the president's agenda.

He has brought a promising measure of order to a very disorderly White House. But whether that is a sign of lasting change or a brief calm before the next twitter storm ignited by the president remains to be seen.

Commentary by Joseph Holt, a business ethics professor at the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business. Follow him on Twitter @busethicsdude.

For more insight from CNBC contributors, follow @CNBCopinion on Twitter.