Bannon’s Departure Won’t Save Trump’s Presidency
TheNewYorker, Aug. 18, 2017
Much of what we saw from Donald Trump this week merely confirmed what we already knew. He’s boneheaded. He’s a divider rather than a unifier. If he’s not an outright racist—and many people would say that he is—he’s always eager to exploit the racial prejudices that some of his supporters harbor. And he hates being pressed to distance himself from confirmed racist goons such as David Duke and Richard Spencer.
“Look, look, I like Bannon,” Trump said during his shameful press conference at Trump Tower, on Tuesday. “He is a friend of mine.”
On Friday at lunchtime, after weeks of speculation, the White House confirmed that Bannon was out. “White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” a statement from the press office said. With that, the rumpled controversialist who took over Trump’s Presidential campaign last August and subsequently became the chief political strategist in the White House joined Michael Flynn, Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, and Anthony Scaramucci on the list of senior Trump aides to get the chop.
There may well be more departures to come. Working for Trump is like entering the haunted house at a fairground: you never know when the trapdoor below your feet is going to open up.
Bannon sought to convert some of Trump’s campaign promises into actual policy measures. As someone who had long proclaimed that America was under grave threat from multiculturalism and what he referred to as “Islamic fascism,” Bannon was perfectly comfortable with Trump’s strident embrace of nativism and revanchism; indeed, he had promoted this same approach during his tenure as the chief executive of Breitbart News. In the early days of the Administration, he worked hard to get some of Trump’s more incendiary proposals enacted, including his crackdown on undocumented immigrants and his ban on Muslims entering the United States.
But to hold Bannon responsible for Trump’s most offensive gestures and utterances—including the President’s refusal, this week, to distance himself from white nationalists and neo-Nazis—would be going too far. Trump’s equating of the “Unite the Right” marchers with the counter-protesters; his claim that there were some “really fine people” on both sides; — this was all Trump’s own handiwork.
Trump is a headstrong lone operator, and he strenuously resists any efforts to constrain or direct him. For a time, Bannon was useful to him because he had the instincts of a political brawler and the ability to convert rabble-rousing rhetoric into something that could be presented to the gullible as a semi-coherent political philosophy. But now that Bannon has departed, there is absolutely no reason to suppose that the President will change his ways. Trump is Trump is Trump.
In some areas, particularly foreign policy, the White House may even have lost a restraining voice. A skeptic of U.S. interventionism, Bannon opposed the Pentagon’s missile strike on Syria, and he was highly dubious about the United States confronting North Korea.
Another area where Bannon’s absence may make a difference is economic policy. As Cohn and others in the White House steadily watered down Trump’s aggressive campaign rhetoric on trade, Bannon tried to fight back, particularly on the need to confront Chinese mercantilism. “To me, the economic war with China is everything,” he said.
If Trump is hoping that Bannon’s departure will ease the political pressure on him, he is certain to be disappointed. Today the focus is firmly on the President himself, and whether he can repair any of the enormous damage that he has done to himself, and to the country, with his loathsome response to the tragic events in Charlottesville.
After all is said and done, Bannon was just another political operative, albeit one with some grand ambitions and extreme views. Trump is the head of state, and, as Mitt Romney pointed out, he owes it to the nation to say sorry for his appalling behavior. “He should address the American people, acknowledge that he was wrong, apologize,” Romney wrote. “State forcefully and unequivocally that racists are 100% to blame for the murder and violence in Charlottesville. Testify that there is no conceivable comparison or moral equivalency between the Nazis—who brutally murdered millions of Jews and who hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives to defeat—and the counter-protestors who were outraged to see fools parading the Nazi flag, Nazi armband and Nazi salute. And once and for all, he must definitively repudiate the support of David Duke and his ilk and call for every American to banish racists and haters from any and every association.”
Another body of notables affiliated with the White House, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, disbanded itself, saying in a public letter, “Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions.”
Здешние политиканы, «эксперты», подконтрольные ЦРУ СМ»И» нахваливают псевдодемократическую, якобы процветающую Америку.
Те, кто любит «наших американских (государственных) партнеров», «забывают» о грязных, злых уродах США. О таких, как коварный и крайне опасный мошенник, расист, лжец и неофашист Дональд Трамп. И о таких, как порочный Конгресс, кровавые милитаристы США, нацистские ФБР — ЦРУ, лживые американские СМ”И”…
Арнольд Локшин, политэмигрант из США