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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

More Palace Intrigue

I keep wondering how much of the piling on Steve Bannon is real, and how much is a smokescreen to cover for an influential senior associate of the "President" having a lot of influence while being distrusted by the public. I don't know how much Trump can cross Breitbart readers (his base) and Robert and Rebekah Mercer (his patrons) and get away with it. But according to Vox, he's trying: just four remarkable and revealing sentences, Trump managed to 1) minimize Bannon’s role in his campaign and eventual victory, 2) seemingly betray some sensitivity about the “President Bannon” narrative, 3) confirm the reports of administration infighting, and 4) issue a public ultimatum. 
Bannon came in as an outsider who wanted to blow things up, and tried to put that agenda into practice — most prominently with Trump’s immigration and travel order. This turned out to be a disastrous failure on every level — it was incompetently crafted, substantively indefensible, and eventually blocked in court. Its only real success was in terrifying and mobilizing liberals against what they saw as a presidential abuse of power.
Then when the administration ran into trouble, Bannon’s big idea for how to right the ship was to attack the media. So the president of the United States increasingly denounced “fake news,” even when the reports he was complaining about were clearly accurate. (“The leaks are absolutely real, the news is fake,” he once bizarrely said.) This violation of norms around freedom of the press only further alarmed his critics. It did not turn around his dismal approval ratings.
More broadly, there seems to be a sense among some Trump advisers that the advice Bannon gives is often not so great. Kushner “has said privately that he fears that Mr. Bannon plays to the president’s worst impulses,” the New York Times’s Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman, and Glenn Thrush recently reported. Indeed, one way Trump can help improve his popularity is to stop picking so many petty, pointless fights — and one strategy for that is to get rid of Steve Bannon.

He's never appeared to be a guy who'd stick around if he doesn't have influence -- he's the Rasputin type and it's what he lives for. I'll believe he's losing that influence when he's no longer working at the White House and Breitbart is attacking Trump daily.

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