Corey Lewandowski was a small-time Republican operative when Donald Trump made him his campaign manager. But on the brink of the GOP nomination in June 2016, Trump fired him.
Still, Trump as president sought out help from his discarded campaign chief the following year.
Trump asked Lewandowski to deliver an odd instruction to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions: Call special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe unfair to Trump and announce a change in the focus of the investigation.
But Lewandowski never delivered the typed message. He gave it to an associate who also did not deliver it, the Mueller report concluded.
Once, all this might have made for a dim or even toxic resume.
His slippery appearance before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday seems unlikely to cost Lewandowski as long as the right clicks, eyeballs, memes and TV exposure keep percolating.
We live in a celebri-tocracy. Reputation and relevance are molded not by what you do, or even who you know, but whether the right niche audience recognizes your name and image.
Just last week, an Emerson College poll found Lewandowski leading the pack in a potential GOP primary for the nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire next year.
Lewandowski got 23 percent against the next closest candidate, retired Army Gen. Don Bolduc, who got 9 percent. Trump's man has predictably begun to muddy up Shaheen as a "partisan hack."
The slings and arrows of a Trump-battered resume also don't seem to have hurt the shiny celebrity status of Sean Spicer, the former White House press secretary and communications director.
Never mind the blatant lies he peddled from the very outset, when he ridiculously claimed the president drew “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.”
It is true that during his short tenure, Spicer made a big show of spewing invective at reporters who dared question him — encouraged by the boss, of course.
But then he delivered a minimally humble apology tour, saying for example in a TV interview in early 2018: "There were times where I screwed up, there’s no question about it."
This week the TV glare for Spicer was all happy, forgiving and fun. He basked in attention for appearing on "Dancing with the Stars" and performing a joyous if basic bongo-punctuated salsa act while dressed in a neon-green puffy shirt.
Reviews for his dance were generally awful, but that doesn't matter any more than his past lies for Trump.
Meanwhile, Spicer's White House successor Sarah Sanders still enjoys "player" status after her Trump gig. She's been talked up as a candidate for governor in her native Arkansas, a post her father, Mike Huckabee, once held.
Even after Trump himself admitted to hush-money payoffs, she denied them.
Sanders also parroted false job comparisons, denied that Trump "encouraged violence" despite his "knock-the-crap-out-of-them" goading at rallies, and called his sex-assault accusers liars though she had no cause to know if they were.
Could any of that matter to what we might call someone's public credibility? It depends. Does it matter that Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci lasted only 10 days as Trump's communications director and now calls the president irrational, "sedated," "mentally declining," suffering from a "loss of personality" and lacking credibility?
It is as if the people who spent time around the president, whether they parted friend or foe, are immune to civic embarrassment.
Perhaps their biggest and most irrational fear for the moment is a plunge from the celebrity class into the social void of anonymity.