With cratering poll numbers and the spectacular failure to replace Obamacare, Trump is close to becoming a lame duck president after a mere 6 months on the job. As his administration careens from one spectacular screw up to the next, the Republican party is growing tired of giving him cover and are actively working to undermine his authority when it suits their interests. This does not bode well for Trump's future, particularly given the Russia investigation is heating up, and the GOP looks increasingly unwilling to protect him.
In a desperate attempt to regain control of his administration and the non-stop leaks, Trump has given new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly almost unlimited authority to crackdown on dissent, and Kelly has in turn enabled National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster to fire pretty much anyone he chooses in the National Security Council. This is pretty big news given Trump and McMaster have had a very rocky relationship, and the general is widely detested by the Alt-Right members of Trump's administration. McMaster is a traditional conservative, hated by the nationalists who propelled Trump into the White House, and labeled as a "globalist" (the dirtiest word in Alt-Right circles).
McMaster, who has a legendary temper, has wasted little time purging the NSC of Alt-Right nationalists and anyone loyal to Steve Bannon, creating a swell of anger on the far right that is threatening to create a civil war in the party. Reported Politico:
McMaster has prevailed in some fierce policy fights — part of a broader battle between Trump administration officials with a more establishment and internationalist worldview, like Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — to prevail over the more nationalist vision espoused by Bannon and Trump advisers Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka.
As The Weekly Standard reported, this has not gone down well with the Alt-Right:
Bannon’s allies outside the White House are trying to put the squeeze on McMaster. On Wednesday, radio host Laura Ingraham tweeted a months-old article from the New York Times about McMaster’s “break with the administration on Islam.”
Meanwhile, blogger Mike Cernovich has been tweeting links to a website called McMasterLeaks, which contains a single blog post with multiple examples of how McMaster is undermining Trump. At the top of the page is a cartoon depicting McMaster (incorrectly labeled as “McMasters”) and David Petraeus as marionette puppets with strings controlled by liberal billionaire George Soros. In turn, Soros is depicted as a puppet controlled by a green, monstrous hand simply labeled “Rothschilds.”
Bannon is apparently so distressed by McMaster's newfound power that he is mulling quitting (at least according to the Standard).
If McMaster continues destroying the Alt-Right in the National Security Council, Trump's administration will have an entirely different ideological view point -- at least from a foreign policy perspective. With Bannon sidelined, the Alt-Right will have almost no room to further their objectives, and Trump will begin to operate largely within the ideological confines of traditional conservatism. It is likely Trump will have to do this if he wants to save his presidency -- he cannot continue insulting his party and bucking conventions if he wants to get anything done. As it stands, Trump's presidency is a colossal failure and he needs establishment help if he wants to turn it around. McMaster appears to be his best bet right now, although given Trump's hatred of being outshone by anyone beneath him, McMaster's existence at the White House remains precarious. McMaster likes the limelight, and as we've seen before, those who upstage Trump don't last. Reported Politico:
Before his White House arrival, McMaster was a darling of the media. His best-selling 1997 book, an indictment of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the early years of the Vietnam War, gained him a reputation as one of the Army's leading thinkers.
His later exploits as commander of an armored cavalry regiment near the Syrian border in 2006 formed the building blocks of the counterinsurgency strategy that underpinned the surge of American forces a year later to tamp down a sectarian war — and earned him public accolades from President George W. Bush.
But in spite of all that — or because of it — he had his share of detractors inside the ranks. As an iconoclast he rubbed many of the top generals, who also saw him as a publicity hound, the wrong way. It is unlikely he would have ever been promoted to general had it not been for a mentor named David Petraeus, the most accomplished general of his generation and another leading "warrior-intellectual."
Having dramatically taken the reigns away from Steve Bannon, McMaster is arguably the most dominant puppeteer controlling the trajectory of the Trump presidency right now. So all hail president McMaster. At least for now.
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