The media and the political Left are primed to have a field day with the dustup between President Trump and his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon.
The rift, which is an ever-increasing chasm, between the two was highlighted by comments made by Bannon in Michael Wolff’s new book, “Fire and Fury,” which hit the shelves this week.
It should be pointed out right away that Michael Wolff, (not to be confused with our own Michael Wolf, the former PA Secretary of Health and a genuinely good guy) doesn’t exactly carry a sterling reputation for journalistic integrity.
He’s often fashioned accurate snippets into broader narratives that were non-sequiturs at best. He’s famous for trying to make a lot out of a little.
In his most recent work, he had a media salivating over the Bannon shots at his former boss and his kids. They got what they wanted, even though Maggie Haberman of The New York Times told us that Wolff “gets basic details wrong.”
Bannon hasn’t denied saying any of the things attributed to him. Trump hasn’t retreated one inch from the scathing remarks he made about Bannon when his comments were revealed.
When there are dust-ups of this sort between presidents and former members of their staffs, as there inevitably are, guess who “wins?”
Bannon was, as the president caustically reminded us, a “staffer.” However, he was no low-level hanger-on. He was the chief strategist. He was in the inner circle. He’d been a key player in the campaign.
Many have suggested that the true nature of their scuffle was the question of whether Trump made Bannon or Bannon made Trump.
Regardless of how you want to slice that apple, the fact is that Bannon is damaged by this far more than President Trump.
Even after he left the White House, his relationship to Donald J. Trump was the key to Steve Bannon’s political fortunes.
Bannon had a platform and an audience before his involvement with Donald Trump. There’s no denying the fact that his voice was amplified exponentially by his involvement with the Trump campaign and presidency. He needed to remain one of the keepers of the Trump flame in order to advance his own brand and continue to raise money, both for candidates and his enterprises.
Now some of Bannon’s key financial backers in the private sector, the Mercer family in particular, are moving away from Bannon.
At the same time the Trump base will stick with their leader. Discussions about Steve Bannon are mostly in the realm of political junkies. The core Trump constituency didn’t vote for Steve Bannon. Most don’t even know who he is. Their loyalty and allegiance, largely unwavering, is to the man in the Oval Office.
Trump also got an unexpected political boost from the dustup with Bannon. So-called “Establishment Republicans” rallied to his side. How long that lasts is an open question, but for now it’s a plus for the president.
Unfortunately, once again, palace intrigue stories threatened to obscure some really good news for the Trump Administration.
The economy, about which the 2018 midterm elections will focus, is continuing to move upward.
The stock market hit 25,000 this week, the fastest 1,000 point acceleration in the market’s history. At the week’s close it was at nearly 25,300, a 2 percent increase in a single week. The staggering increases in the market are poised to continue as earnings will increase as the result of the recent cuts in corporate tax rebates.
It’s a mistake for the Trump Administration (or any other) to tie its political fortunes to stock prices. But, in addition to the continuing bull market, other economic indicators are also pointing upward.
Unemployment is at recent lows. All sectors of the economy, except retail, are moving dramatically upward. The tide is rising and all boats are going up with it.
Economic growth are the two most important words in the domestic policy lexicon. For eight years we were told to get used to anemic growth. Now we’re able to see a bright future of prosperity for everyone.
Telling that story has infinitely more benefit than publicly washing the dirty laundry of administrative in-fighting. Why Wolff was granted the access he got is a puzzling question.
Unfortunately the early days of the Trump Administration didn’t have the internal disciplines and procedures imposed by now Chief of Staff General John Kelly.
General Kelly ushered in much more professionalism in the inner working of the West Wing.
It was a lack of that level of professionalism and an equal lack of it on the part the author that gave us “Fire and Fury.”
Charlie Gerow is a political analyst for Harrisburg, Pa.'s CBS affiliate, appearing weekly on its Sunday morning show, "Face the State," which is syndicated statewide. He serves as the first vice chair on the board of directors of the American Conservative Union. He is the CEO of Quantum Communications, a strategic communications and issue advocacy firm. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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