How "gone" is Steve Bannon really?

In some ways it’s kind of amazing that in the midst of terror attacks abroad, racial unrest at home and police shootings in two states overnight there is a big segment of the media still focusing more on Steve Bannon than anything else. The catnip factor is understandable of course, particularly for those of us who live and breathe American politics, but normally the dismissal of a problematic adviser really wouldn’t be such a huge story. But it is what it is and now he’s gone.

But is he really? Mike Allen at Axios is pitching an alternate theory (parts of which I actually subscribe to) mixed in with a heaping dose of some back yard fence style gossip. His opening gambit is a series of both off-the-record and on-the-record quotes and factoids meant to indicate that the Trump – Bannon relationship is really on the rocks. (Emphasis in original)

At the end, Trump was beyond fed up, viewing Bannon as a self-aggrandizer who had built a personal narrative as the grand puppetmaster.

  • “Who the f**k does this guy think he is?” Trump has said incredulously to associates.
  • Axios’ Jonathan Swan tells me it’s no surprise Trump didn’t issue a farewell message on Friday: The president can’t stand Bannon at the moment. (Trump tweeted a belated “Thanks S” about Bannon on Saturday morning.)
  • But few people are ever really gone from Trumpworld, and we bet it won’t be long before Bannon is regularly gossiping with Trump and counseling him.

Some of this is, to be clear, the beltway and blogosphere equivalent of the latest hot rumors about who hates who this week in the Kardashian clan. (Or whether it’s really splitsville for Oprah and Stedman, for you older readers.) Steve Bannon was, from the beginning, probably the most controversial person in the Trump inner circle and even as the President seemed to remain loyal to him, it was a race between the Democrats, the establishment Republicans and the media to see who hated him the most. Detecting any blood in their chummy swimming pool would be huge news for those looking for another crack in Trump’s armor.

But are things really so bad between the two men? You might get that impression from Axios, but then we’ve got Bloomberg reporting that Bannon is saying he’s “going to war for Trump.” (Which, if you’re in the Oval Office, is far preferable to going to war against Trump. You can insert some wisdom of the elders here about having a guy inside the tent peeing out rather than vice versa.) Indicators like that may support Mike Allen’s next point (that being the one I agree with), saying that Bannon really isn’t all that gone and will soon likely hold his old post again, but unofficially and operating out of the Breitbart offices rather than the White House.

So Steve Bannon will remain in the president’s ear and in his head, telling Trump to be Trump. And that’s a message this president has never been known to resist.

Having Bannon on the Security Council was obviously a burr under many saddles, along with any other official duties which may have shown up on his daily schedule. But what was his primary job to begin with? He was a presidential adviser. That’s about as vague of a title as you could ask for, and if that’s the voice and style that Trump likes to hear while mulling things over, how long do you suppose that relationship is put on hold? So meetings inside the Oval Office wind up being replaced by DMs on Twitter at all hours of the day and night? It’s true that Bannon won’t be there to personally badger the more establishment, globalist voices in the Oval Office inner circle, but something tells me that his opinions on other personnel will still be heard when the President is looking for advice.

So is Steve Bannon gone? Well… at least physically, yes. But he’s most likely very far from forgotten.