There’s a mismatch between the political press and the White House it is intended to cover. Political scribblers like myself are primed to greet the news of Steve Bannon getting bounced from the White House as an event with significance for the battle of ideas in the White House and in the Republican party.
We want to say that Bannon’s a “populist” of some sort, an anti-China guy, an America Firster. Heck, he even advocated tax raises on high-income earners. And we want to say that his enemies in the White House are either social-climbing socialites (liberals), generals who favor more military engagement (hawks), or business guys who think government is here to goose growth through interest-rate and tax policy.
And on some level, I’m sure that’s true. Supposedly the White House is still setting federal regulations and encouraging certain legislative items to come forward in Congress. But increasingly it seems that judging the White House in these terms is like trying to determine the stock price of different suntan-oil companies by following the ups and downs on episodes of Jersey Shore. The ideology is just the furniture and props that the characters throw at each other in set-piece fights. Trade protectionism: a sofa overturned in a tantrum. A vow to fight the globalists: a box of Valtrex fired across the room in anger.