What the Trump administration has done, over the past few days, is horrific. And it has terrible human consequences for the migrants and other people caught up in it. I don’t want to minimize that.
If there’s a silver lining here, though, it’s that I have a feeling Steve Bannon is going to end up getting hellaciously dumpstered behind this shit.
Sure, he seems to be riding high now. Writing inauguration speeches and executive orders; even getting himself stuck on the National Security Council!
But things are already spinning out of control and falling apart, in the face of resistance from both mass street protest and the judiciary.
And Donald Trump is known to be a person whose primary loyalty is to Donald J. Trump. To stay in his inner circle, you need to have a “value proposition,” as the sleazy businessmen like to say. That is, something you have to offer, that can increase the revenue of the business.
And what, exactly, is Bannon’s value proposition?
It isn’t any special connection with the conventional Republican political elite. Paul Ryan and the like have always regarded him with something between indifference and contempt. And they’re probably starting to wonder if his agenda is crowding out more traditional conservative priorities, such as starving out grannies, enabling financial fraud, lowering taxes on billionaires, and ensuring that sick people die in the gutter if they aren’t rich.
Bannon also isn’t a gateway to the super-rich donor class. From the perspective of the billionaires, his pipsqueak Seinfeld-residuals-cashing ass barely registers.
What Steve Bannon provides — or was supposed to provide — is the mass base, the hordes of frothing Trump supporters, who would pour forth from 4chan and Breitbart.com to give aid and cover to the schemes of the Ayn-Rand-worshiping ideologues and the cynical rich.
The problem is that he isn’t actually delivering this. Hence the half-empty inauguration, followed up with packed Women’s March protests. The definitive image from Trump’s coronation wasn’t hordes of his adoring fans; it was Richard Spencer getting punched in the face. This was an embarrassment so severe, Trump was reduced to harassing the Park Service for more flattering photos. And then we got the executive orders on migrants that presumably were supposed to bring out the grateful masses, but which only succeeded in bringing on a whirlwind of mobilization against Trump.
Trump’s vanity and idiocy are sufficient that it may take him some time to realize this. But once he does, it’s bedtime for Bannon, who will be defenestrated without ceremony. That leaves the rest of the ghouls in this administration and in Congress, who are no less terrifying in their own way. But we’ll have gotten our first win, and hopefully far from the last.