Terry H. Schwadron
Aug. 19, 2017
Stephen K. Bannon, the manipulative spokesman American isolationism, alt-right inclusion, and rejection of any American involvement overseas, militarily or not. The big question, then, is who is Donald Trump and what is a Trump presidency? Will anything change?
Listening to the immediate chatter, the fallout will be seen in campaign politics. Only no one is quite sure what that means. Who is left around the President? The Generals and Goldman Sachs exiles — and Ben Carson and Betsy DeVos (who surprisingly thinks racism is a bad idea). The administration is replete with vacancies among the ranks of those who are supposed to get things done. Even among the strongest Cabinet members, Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions has a target on his back, and EPA head Scott Pruitt has one eye on running for governor in Oklahoma. Personally, it would have been nicer if Bannon left with Stephen Miller, a member of his team in the White House.
It was repeated ad nauseum that Bannon and his big mouth will return to Breitbart News, a platform of outsized importance for those things that Bannon cares about. From that perch, Bannon is a prime position to fire potshots at the President if he heeds the more moderate, globalist economic views of Gary D. Cohn, head of the economic council, and the national security team, which support internationalism. At risk, then, are the Trump supporters who came to support him for the dark, dystopic view of Bannon-world.
Back at Breitbart, I would expect that Bannon will lean a lot more on congressional leaders, anyone supporting the systems of government, immigration, U.S. intelligence teams and, of course, all-things-Russia. To the degree that Bannon and the President agree, the poisonous tongue of Bannon will snap at those who veer from the program.
Let’s take stock:
· The President has lost the moral leadership through the Charlottesville madness of seeming to equate the KKK and neo-Nazis with those who protest hate. He has lost support of corporate leaders, sports figures, wide swaths of minority groups. Democrats are livid, and Republicans are at least unsure of whether to continue their support
· The President has lost support and political standing through the failed health care repeal and replace campaign, losing support from more moderate Republicans. He lost more support from insulting figures like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
· The President’s erratic behavior toward other countries, friend and foe, has left him mostly isolated internationally. He has brought us within real possibilities of war in North Korea, Afghanistan, the Middle East and Iran, actually launched missiles — once — against Syria. At the least you can argue that this foreign policy has not added to friends or personal support.
· Every time this impulsive tweeter touches his phone, he has worsened his own political standing. He is seen as unable to control a message, as dependent on repeating untrue internet stories as true, He seems unable to learn from mistakes that he does acknowledge.
· He faces an uphill battle on big legislative agenda with no public programs to back them up. Indeed, on issues like banning transgender people from the military, Mr. Trump has no bite to back up the bite. The military has simply ignored him.
The reporting was that Bannon actually resigned a couple of weeks ago, postponing the day of departure — at least from the chief strategist role. There was reporting that the actual instrument of bad news was former Gen. John Kelly, the White House Chief of Staff. Bannon himself this week called a reporter he thought might be friendly and offered a wide-ranging interview that left him at odds in certain respects with the President.
More logically, Bannon was a big personality, and from the early days of the presidency, was getting reporting coverage that overstated his role, in the eyes of the President. In other words, to a certain extent, this rub with Bannon was over Bannon getting too much attention.
For myself, I’m generally glad that Bannon is out, but I wait to see if he is really gone. We are better off without someone in the White House who has helped the alt-right grow in strength. But I doubt that the Bannon thinking that comes out of the Trump mouth has not necessarily disappeared.
If it leaves Mr. Trump limping, Bannon’s departure can’t be a bad thing. It will be better when Donald Trump leaves.