The Afterlife of Steve Bannon
Steve Bannon’s political foes are eager to write his obituary now that he’s feuding with his former boss, President Donald Trump. The immediate cause of the divorce wasn’t over ideas, but a more personal betrayal: Bannon’s assertion that members of the president’s inner circle, include son Donald Trump Jr. and son-in-law Jared Kushner, were guilty of “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” acts by meeting with Russian officials during the campaign. These words, revealed in reporter Michael Wolff’s new book Fire and Fury, led the president to issue a statement saying Bannon had “lost his mind.” On Twitter, Trump even came up with a derisive nickname for his estranged former advisor:
Many Republicans were eager to echo and amplify the president’s words. On Fox News on Wednesday night, longtime GOP strategist Ed Rollins said Bannon had “set himself on fire in the middle of the South Lawn and the president ran over him with a tank, then he put it in reverse and backed over him again.” Rollins added, “I think it’s the end of Bannon.” Roger Stone, a longtime Trump confidant, mocked the idea that Bannon, who some say might run for president, could forge a political career separate from Trump. Bannon “looks like he’s robbing hobos for his clothing,” Stone observed on Alex Jones’s Infowars show. “He seems to not be familiar with soap and water nor a good razor. He is not in any way a viable candidate. He’s a political operative and an amateur one.”
Although Stone expressed himself more pungently than most, he was articulating what is now the conventional wisdom on Bannon: that he is an incompetent political operator who got lucky by backing Trump in 2016, and has now committed political suicide by disparaging the president. Bannon, the argument goes, had a reputation as a kingmaker, but is now revealed to be a Wizard of Oz who impressed the credulous but possessed no real magic.