(CNN)There's nothing that President Donald Trump loves more than a subordinate who is truly subordinate -- who takes direction and executes without much questioning.
Scott Pruitt is everything Donald Trump loves in an underling. Also everything he hates.
There's nothing Trump hates more than someone who works for him who draws negatives press to him, someone who, in his mind, gives the "fake news" media a reason to take a swing.
He's got both in Scott Pruitt!
The head of the Environmental Protection Agency has been, without question, one of Trump's most loyal foot soldiers. He has rolled back a series of environmental regulations and championed Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris climate accords.
"The President thinks he is doing a good job, particularly on the deregulation front," said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Wednesday.
But, Pruitt is also in the midst of a historic run of bad press. From pricey plane tickets to renting a room in the house of an energy lobbyist to aides -- without Pruitt's knowledge -- trying to secure $86,000 in raises, it seems as though not a day goes by when Pruitt is now under fire for some new controversy.
And, he isn't doing much to help his cause. Pruitt sat down with Fox News Channel's Ed Henry in what he undoubtedly expected to be a friendly interview and was caught totally off guard by Henry's aggressive questioning about the rent and raise issues.
"I can't speak to the future of Scott Pruitt," said deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley on Fox Thursday. It's the latest in a series of very wishy-washy answers on Pruitt from Trump and his top aides this week.
All of which suggest that Pruitt is on his way out. And, he probably is! (I'm on record as believing Pruitt's days are very numbered.)
But, the Pruitt situation is a very interesting take on what matters more to Trump: What he loves or what he hates. (It's like Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs -- except for politics.)
Does Trump love Pruitt's loyalty and ability to matriculate the ball down the field most? That's what Pruitt allies have spent the last day or two reminding Trump and his inner circle. This guy gets stuff done. Don't get rid of him!
Or, does Trump hate all of the negative press more? Because Pruitt has received a whole hell of a lot of that, and he's really not helped himself out with his arrogant response to legitimate questions about the controversies.
This from The Washington Post feels particularly damning of Pruitt:
"White House officials are also uneasy with the administrator's recent publicity push with conservative media outlets, including his appearance on Fox News. They had urged Pruitt not to do any interviews Tuesday or Wednesday, according to several senior administration officials, but he disregarded that advice."
Trump, in case you have been under a pile of coats for the past 15 months, is an impetuous person. He changes his mind all the time, often depending on the last person he talked to or the last thing he saw on cable TV. Which means that he almost certainly has gone back and forth at least a few times on whether or not to get rid of Pruitt (or have someone like chief of staff John Kelly get rid of Pruitt).
For Trump, Pruitt is sort of like the angel and devil in the old cartoons that sit on his shoulders.
The angel Pruitt is the one wiping out regulations, telling Trump he's right about blowing up the political establishment and "you bet boss"-ing him all over the place.
The devil Pruitt is embroiled in negative story after negative story and seemingly unaware of just how hot the water he is sitting in is getting.
So, does Trump listen to the angel or the devil? Count me in latter camp.