Steve Bannon’s position as chief White House strategist appeared to be secure this week after President Donald Trump doubled down on framing “both sides” as equally at fault for last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville. But after a couple of ill-advised interviews with the New York Times and the American Prospect, Bannon was dumped on a Friday afternoon, like several Trump associates gone before him. Among other things, the president apparently didn’t appreciate Bannon’s habit of taking credit for his election victory.
Representative Steve King told the New York Times earlier in the week that conservatives would be “crushed” if Bannon were ousted. On August 17, he lamented to Philip Rucker of the Washington Post, “With Steve Bannon gone, what’s left of the conservative core in the West Wing?”
King didn’t elaborate on what conservatives admired in Bannon, but he has never espoused the “economic populist” agenda of higher taxes on the rich or tearing up trade agreements. Rather, Bannon and Republicans like King share a delight in exploiting racial and ethnic resentments for political gain.
I am inclined to agree with Sarah Kendzior: “Bannon may be just as useful for Trump outside the White House as he was within it–perhaps more so.” Bannon himself told Bloomberg reporter Joshua Green, “I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents — on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America.” (Green wrote the book Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency.)
Another sign Trump has not repudiated Bannon’s views: white supremacist allies Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka remain the president’s senior policy adviser and deputy assistant, respectively.
This is an open thread: all topics welcome. The funniest political story I read this week was by John Bresnahan and Rachael Bade for Politico, detailing the “agonizing, 8-page memo” of instructions for staffers charged with driving GOP Representative Todd Rokita of Indiana. I’ve heard some good stories from Iowans who have chauffeured candidates or elected officials, but nothing approaching that level of high-maintenance behavior.
UPDATE: Added below more comments from Bannon and Trump.