Widely regarded as the brains behind Donald Trump's meteoric rise to the presidency, Alt-Right guru Steve Bannon was once untouchable in the president's inner circle. No more, as senior aides to the president have revealed the former Breitbart editor and filmmaker is getting his marching orders from the president. Reported the New York Times:
President Trump has told senior aides that he has decided to remove Stephen K. Bannon, the embattled White House chief strategist who helped Mr. Trump win the 2016 election, according to two administration officials briefed on the discussion.
The president and senior White House officials were debating when and how to dismiss Mr. Bannon. The two administration officials cautioned that Mr. Trump is known to be averse to confrontation within his inner circle, and could decide to keep on Mr. Bannon for some time.
As of Friday morning, the two men were still discussing Mr. Bannon’s future, the officials said. A person close to Mr. Bannon insisted the parting of ways was his idea, and that he had submitted his resignation to the president on Aug. 7, to be announced at the start of this week, but it was delayed in the wake of the racial unrest in Charlottesville, Va.
This is huge, huge news and a major victory for those resisting Trump's presidency. Bannon has expertly marshaled the political energy of the Alt-Right movement behind Trump and is, as Matt Taibbi recently noted, one of "the few people in that White House with even a primitive grasp of long-term strategy". Without his strategic thinking and media savvy, Trump will be isolated from the far right political movement he had counted on to give him cover. Wrote Taibbi of Bannon's (albeit limited) genius during the 2016 campaign:
Bannon understood that the bulk of the Republican Party liked to think of itself as tolerant, and preferred that its bigotry be kept under the surface.
Hence the preposterous speeches about racial sensitivity to a succession of all-white audiences. I was one of many reporters who watched this act on the road last year and wondered if Trump, and by extension Bannon, had lost their minds.
They hadn't. Bannon's Machiavellian gambit, which was designed to give mainstream Republican voters psychological permission to vote for a racist candidate, saved Trump's campaign.
Bannon is a much hated figure in traditional conservative circles. He is a racist, ethno-nationalist with little regard for America's political institutions and has sought to "bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” Obsessed with achieving his political goals, Bannon has remained in the shadows of Trump's administration, playing a murky but extremely important role in the president's legislative decision making. With Trump's recent hiring of traditionalists like John Kelly and H.R McMasters, Bannon and the Alt Right figures in the administration have come under attack. After several high profile purges, Bannon's position in the administration had become more and more precarious. Ultimately, the Alt-Right ethno-nationalists have lost, and Bannon's departure signals the end of its influence in government.
Without Bannon though, Trump is in very, very dangerous territory. The conservative establishment despises Trump, and now he is surrounded by them like never before.