Saturday, August 19, 2017

Bannon bounced

Amid rumors swirling that President Donald Trump's inner circle was about to be severely shaken up, the New York Post published this photo about a month ago:

Since then, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has been fired. Shortly thereafter, Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci (after a mere 11 days on the job) was given the boot.

Then on Friday, the man considered Trump's top strategist was let go

Top presidential adviser and nationalist bomb-thrower Steve Bannon is out of a job, the White House said Friday.

“Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day. We are grateful for his service and wish him the best,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Kelly had earlier wrapped up a review of the West Wing staff and the former Breitbart editor, the voice of the alt-right who had the president’s ear, was the first casualty.

“Bannon had one hell of a run,” tweeted Matt Drudge, who first reported the story.

Bannon had been on the outs with Trump before for grandstanding and stealing the spotlight, but the president suspected he was one of the main leakers in the administration, trashing his colleagues in news reports.

With that, the Post updated it's "Survivor" board:

I suspect that Bannon's interview with The American Prospect, where he trashed colleagues and undermined the Trump administration's talking points about readiness for war with North Korea, was the last straw. So is firing perhaps the most toxic figure in Trump's administration going to calm the proverbial rough waters? To say I'm skeptical would be an understatement.

So what's next for Bannon? Apparently he walked right from the White House straight to a editorial meeting where he will resume his previous role with that media outlet. So now that Bannon is unbound, will it be no-holds-barred against Trump & Co.? Ben Shapiro, who was at one time a co-worker of Bannon's at, gives his perspective.

Bannon won’t go straight at Trump. That would be foolish. Instead, he’ll pretend to be Trump’s ally in fighting the swamp from the outside. That’s already how Bannon is playing it. According to (The Weekly Standard's Peter) Boyer, Bannon says that Trump gave him the go-ahead to attack the Republican establishment: “I said, ‘look, I’ll focus on going after the establishment.’ He said, ‘good, I need that.’ I said, ‘look, I’ll always be here covering for you.’”

That means that Bannon will immediately go after a bunch of his old enemies, according to The New York Times (and as I predicted earlier today): Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Gary Cohn, H.R. McMaster, plus Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Already he’s characterizing Trump’s presidency as hijacked by those who would “try to moderate him…His natural tendency – and I think you saw it this week on Charlottesville – his actual default position is the position of his base, the position that got him elected. I think you’re going to see a lot of constraints on that.”

So Bannon will pretend that Trump’s foibles are really just Trump being misled by others.

Until, that is, Bannon finds a convenient way to turn on Trump himself.

While there's nothing Trump could ever do to assuage leftists, he did at least placate a few conservatives by firing the one member of his team with the closest connection to the "alt-right." Again, I don't believe this will magically transform the Trump administration into a disciplined operation. However, it's a move that absolutely had to be made.


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