Those White House advisers and Cabinet officials who were “frustrated” or “unhappy” Wednesday but not ready to quit have every reason to do so now. Stephen K. Bannon’s unhinged, embarrassing and disloyal (the worst sin in this White House) interview with the American Prospect — Anthony Scaramucci’s New Yorker rant minus the obscenity — gives them every reason to resign. In fact, absent his firing or resignation, they must resign.
Stephen K. Bannon, the White House chief strategist, seemed to take issue with President Trump on North Korea, attacked white supremacists as “clowns” and “losers” and described his efforts against administration rivals in an unusual interview Wednesday with The American Prospect, a progressive magazine.
The interview with magazine co-editor and columnist Robert Kuttner was initiated by Bannon, Kuttner said, in an Anthony Scaramucci-style phone call out of the blue in response to a column Kuttner had written on China. . . .
“‘They’re wetting themselves,’ he said, proceeding to detail how he would oust some of his opponents at State and Defense.”
On North Korea, Bannon said: “‘Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.’”
He also threw in a dig at those he’s been publicly courting. (“Ethno-nationalism — it’s losers. It’s a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, eh, help crush it more. These guys are a collection of clowns.”) Hmm, it’s probably unwise for him to throw under the bus now the most devoted Trump followers.
Bannon told DailyMail.com that his remarks ‘drew fire away from POTUS,’ meaning President Trump, and that he successfully ‘changed the [media] narrative’ with a single phone call.
It’s unclear if there has been any blowback in the West Wing from Bannon’s unexpected on-the-record remarks to the magazine, which came in an unsolicited phone call on Wednesday.
Even for this White House, it’s a pathetic excuse, disproved by Trump’s effort to double down on his Confederate statue infatuation with a series of tweetsbemoaning the movement to take them down.
For White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, this is one more demonstration of his complete failure to normalize the White House, end backbiting, keep the team on the same page and end dysfunction. Between Trump’s own conduct and his toleration of the destructive Bannon, things are worse than ever. Kelly has been made to look impotent, and his Cabinet members are now unable to operate without being publicly attacked by Bannon and his poodle, Sebastian Gorka.
Whether the “base is still with him” or not, those in positions of authority in Trump’s administration can no longer pretend they are doing good. If they stay, they’ve permanently empowered Bannon and enabled Trump to continue his political death spiral. Other than Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (who must have approved the anti-racist statements put out by the military service chiefs), who literally is there to prevent nuclear war, the rest of them should go. In unison, they may make an impression and finally galvanize Republicans to abandon the president.