“When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind,” President Trump said about his former supposed Svengali, Steve Bannon. Many are interpreting this latest outburst as evidence of a fresh rift between the two, but the fact is that Trump hasn’t had nice things to say about Bannon for a very long time.
Back in April of last year, when Time Magazine published a cover story about Bannon as the true power behind the throne, the president made it known that he didn’t appreciate being upstaged.
“I like Steve,” Trump said at the time, “but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late. I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn’t know Steve. I’m my own strategist.” Bannon, he insisted, was just “a guy who works for me.”
‘You can’t fire me, I quit!’
Until, of course, he was a guy who didn’t work for him. The circumstances of that status change are still a matter of debate.
Trump now insists Bannon was “fired” in trademark Apprentice-like fashion, but at the time, both sides characterized the transition as a mutually agreed-upon strategic shift, where Bannon could muster the forces of Trumpism from his all-too-ivory Breitbart tower. And, indeed, it looked for a time like Bannon would remain loyal to his former boss by marshaling the forces of Trump toadies to take on establishment types in Republican primaries.
Turns out, however, that Bannon’s stamp of approval is essentially a political kiss of death, as his full-throated endorsement of Roy Moore demonstrated. The president, whose demands for undying loyalty are rarely reciprocal, is all too eager to abandon losers. And now that the two are officially on the outs, both are eager to air their dirty laundry in public.
Donald Trump Jr. followed in Dad’s footsteps by taking to Twitter to excoriate Bannon the “opportunist” as a “nightmare of backstabbing, harassing, leaking, lying & undermining the President.” No amount of hatred or vitriol is too toxic for any Trump to dump on their former golden boy.
Bannon’s book quotes are only the beginning
For his part, Bannon has kept his powder dry, leaving his best stuff for the people who buy the book that started this latest feud. “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” a tell-all by Michael Wolff repeatedly quotes Bannon ripping on Trump and his family. As of this writing, Bannon hasn’t spoken or tweeted any additional bile, but it’s unlikely that he will stay silent for long. Some of his supporters are even floating the ridiculous idea of “Bannon 2020,” which is as likely to succeed as Roy Moore’s lawsuit to overturn his Bannon-poisoned loss.
The reality is that there are no good guys here. The public squabble diminishes both sides, neither of which had much credibility to begin with. The only silver lining is that there’s plenty of entertainment for those who love a good cat fight.
(Photo of President Donald Trump speaking on the phone with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the Oval Office of the White House, January 28, 2017 in Washington, DC. Also pictured at right, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)