In a careful staged display of pretend mutual admiration, Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon wanted to make clear that despite the leaks, there was no conflict between the two men. Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) yesterday, the two men showered each other with compliments, with Priebus going as far as calling Bannon “my dear friend”. This despite the almost certainly true leaks that the completely ideologically opposed political figures hate each other's guts.
The charade was laughably transparent, and their body language made clear that there is no love lost between them. Just check out this extremely bizarre interaction between the two:
In the world of male hierarchy, this is pretty easy to translate: Bannon was attempting to assert his dominance over Priebus by touching him inappropriately, and Priebus unconsciously swatted him away in order to protect his own status as an alpha in the Republican Party.
These little games are likely to be an everyday occurrence in the new White House under Trump -- himself a toxic figure of male ego and a product of the hyper aggressive world of New York real estate. Bannon is Trump's favorite so likely believes he can lord it over the traditional Republicans his boss spent the primaries belittling.
Really though, the entire spectacle was just sad. These seedy little men have an inordinate amount political power, and are responsible for the unfolding tragedy of the Trump presidency. The sight of two flabby political hacks vying for dominance while pretending to like each other is, ultimately, emblematic of the pathetic state of the Trump administration. And unfortunately, we have to watch it play out in real time.