Elephants in the Room
Bannon Out, But Most Definitely Not Dead
Trump's Rasputin has left the building. That doesn't mean he still won't be whispering in the president's ear.
Steve Bannon has left the building. Well, maybe. Being “fired” does not mean expulsion from the royal presidential court. Corey Lewandowski still maintains his links to the president. And so will Bannon.
These men appeal to the president’s baser instincts, which were very much on display in his impromptu outburst on Tuesday and which appear to be the only instincts he has. Lewandowski and now Bannon were (temporarily) expelled from Trump’s circle because the president cannot tolerate a subordinate’s contradicting him or, even worse, garnering more publicity in the media.
Bannon was guilty of both cardinal sins. He undermined the president’s bluster in responding to the North Korea crisis and in claiming that he controlled State Department appointments — displaying a degree of arrogance that the president invariably reserved for himself. Worse, however, was Brannon’s competing with Trump for dominance of the news cycle, thanks to his remarks to the American Prospect.
It should be recalled that Mike Flynn’s forced resignation took place not after Trump was informed of his connections to Russia — after all, the president has hardly evinced any concern about that country or its leader. Nor did Flynn ever contradict the president. Rather, Flynn was let go after his name appeared more often than the president’s above the fold on the front pages of the very newspapers Trump supposedly disdains.
There can be no avoiding the reality that the president of the United States is, at a minimum, unperturbed by the xenophobic, anti-Semitic, and racist impulses that have won him the support of the likes of David Duke — and that Bannon has encouraged, if not personally exemplified. Firing Bannon changes nothing, other than perhaps temporarily diverting the nation’s attention away from Trump’s outrageous remarks to the press regarding the alt-right and neo-Nazis.
Bannon will not be gone for long. He will continue to whisper in the president’s ear. And of far greater consequence, there can be little doubt that — at immeasurable cost to national cohesion and American leadership abroad — the president will continue to respond to Brannon’s malign musings for some time to come.
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