In October 2015, Joshua Green of Bloomberg Politics published an article about Steve Bannon titled “This Man is the Most Dangerous Political Operative in America” . I first came across Green’s article in August 2016 when then Presidential Candidate Donald Trump selected the former Breitbart Chairman, to be the chairman of his campaign. This campaign team shakeup, which took place three weeks after the Republican National Convention, also involved the ousting of Campaign Manager Paul Manafort who had become a liability due to some questionable financial dealings with Russia and the appointment of pollster and attorney Kellyanne Conway as campaign manager. Green’s article was insightful in that it focused on Bannon’s involvement with two Peter Schweizer books designed to “take down Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush”, Clinton Cash and the lesser known Bush Bucks. The article and the “most dangerous political operative” moniker flashed through my mind again when President-Elect Trump selected Bannon as his Chief Strategist a week after the election.
President Trump obviously selected Bannon for such an important position for a reason. Bannon has a diverse resume which includes a career at Goldman Sachs and a foray into movie producing, a wide circle of influence, and a prolific track record as a deal maker. Lately, the Bannon-Trump relationship has appeared strained. Some of the recent problems can be tied to disharmony between Bannon and President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner who is a Senior Adviser to the President and married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who now also has a role in the administration. The media has recently drawn a line in the White House designating a demarcation between the Kushner and the Bannon camps. The Kushner camp is more analytical and measured, the Bannon camp is more instinctive and emotional. And, of course there are the obvious political comparisons. The Kushner camp is viewed as the moderate stream of the administration. And Bannon is painted as a member of the alt Rightwing.
President Trump has stood by his choice of Bannon for Chief Strategist. That is until recently. Earlier this week Trump described Bannon as “a guy who works for me”. In an interview with the New York Post, he further elaborated. ”I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late. I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn’t know Steve. I am my own strategist.” Hardly, a resounding declaration of support.
Some say that one of the key problems is that Bannon has a larger than life personality, a scenario which does not sit well with President Trump who also has a larger than life personality. President Trump has been trying to deflect the media’s narrative that Bannon is the real power in the White House, the man behind the curtain, the man projecting the Wizard of Trump on the screen. Trump reportedly was very upset that Time Magazine chose to profile Bannon with the headline “The Great Manipulator” and with Saturday Night Live’s skit depicting Bannon as the Grim Reaper who pulls the strings on a puppet presidency.
Political Consultant Roger Stone who describes himself as a “friend” of Bannon’s recently told NBC in an interview with Chuck Todd that he thought Bannon “made an error by not spending any of his political capital to bring other Trump-ites and non-globalists into the White House circle. So now he’s alone,” Stone said. “Now he’s alone and he’s surrounded.”
Since Bannon’s fall from grace, the media has been predicting his ouster from the administration. Most pundits are now saying that it is not a question of if, it is a question of when. Given this scenario, some of the recent analysis has turned to speculation as to whether Bannon will seek revenge for his removal from the Trump administration. Politico published an article today titled “If Trump Fired Bannon, Would He Seek Revenge?” where the author and a team of other writers brainstorm the various ways in which Bannon could get back at Trump.
My prediction? Bannon is out within the next month.