Kristin Tate, The Hill, August 18, 2017
The forced resignation of White House Chief Strategist Steven Bannon is less of a surprise than it is a disappointment. The keystone to President Trump’s momentous 2016 election victory fell prey to the worst habits of Washington’s nature. In short, Bannon fought the swamp and the swamp won.
The administration started with a bang, bringing in many new voices to the national conversation. Now, several high-profile axings later, President Trump is moving closer to the D.C. elite than many are comfortable with.
President Trump is ceding dangerous ground to the media and establishment here. There is no compromise with the Never-Trumpers and Democrats over the role of chief strategist. Personnel is policy, and Trump is ceding his ace for a player to be named later. That’s not good enough for the people who made his movement happen.
Considering the wavering from other segments of the population, the president cannot afford to mortgage his political future due to pressure from a press corps he can never impress or win over.
Of the original team of economic nationalists, only Stephen Miller remains in a frontline position. Certainly, pushing out the stabilizing force of Bannon will make others in his mold think twice about joining the administration.
Don’t be surprised if the former chief strategist comes back with an axe to grind, as it seems like he might be already.
Giving away Steve Bannon is a terrible mistake. Perhaps even worse, it is an awful precedent. In all of Trump’s writings and speeches, he goes out of his way to highlight loyalty as his most important virtue and expectation. Bannon was loyal to the end of his tenure in D.C. What else could Trump ask for? An ally already quoted Bannon as saying that he would force Trump to let him go publicly if the administration didn’t “follow the direction we were elected for.”
Andrew Breitbart used to write about being prepared for an ideological war. Not a debate, not a stern talking to, but a war. Steve Bannon was the one person in the White House who both understood that principle and had the tools to win.
Bannon doesn’t lose that set of unique skills just because he’s no longer chief strategist. He may become an unwelcome critic of the president, in service of what both Trump and Bannon thought were once shared ideals.