Stephen K. Bannon is stepping down from his post as executive chairman of Breitbart News, the company announced Tuesday.
Mr. Bannon’s departure, which was forced by a onetime financial patron, Rebekah Mercer, comes as Mr. Bannon remained unable to quell the furor over remarks attributed to him in a new book in which he questions President Trump’s mental fitness and disparages his elder son, Donald Trump Jr.
And barely an hour or two after this was announced, we had this terrible take from Jon Healey of the Los Angeles Times:
Having lost Breitbart as an outlet for his views on how to make America great again, Bannon may lose whatever influence he had left over the movement he helped create. One can only hope that his rivals within the administration keep pushing Trump back toward the political mainstream, and that Trump’s transactional instincts lead him to strike deals with congressional Democrats instead of just playing to the base Bannon worked so hard to assemble.
Could that really happen?
Trump also still watches hours and hours of Fox News every day. When he's not watching Fox, he's getting economic advice from fellow billionaire greedheads, advice that pulls him to the right of Bannon on a rare issue on which Bannon is (at least in his empty pronouncements) pro-working class. On cultural issues, Trump cynically tailors everything he does to the wishes of Christian rightists (the so-called Fox evangelicals, who are less interested in spiritual matters than in the use of Christianity to induce liberal tears).
What else? Oh yeah -- no legislation is going to reach Trump's desk that hasn't been pre-approved by Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. Ronald Brownstein wrote this about the choices Ryan, McConnell, and the rest of the congressional Republicans have clearly made:
The first [choice] has been to align more closely with Trump even as questions have mounted about both his basic fitness for the presidency and the potential legal exposure that he and his inner circle might face in the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller. The second has been to pursue a policy agenda, on issues from taxes to health care to the environment, aimed almost entirely at the preferences of their party's conservative base, with strikingly few concessions to any voices or interests beyond their core coalition.
Maybe what Healey is thinking is that Trump will now be a smidge less racist. It's possible that Jarvanka or someone else will talk him out of overt expressions of racism. But he was a racist decades before he met Bannon. He's not going to change.
Please, please, stop waiting for the moderate Trump to emerge. It can't happen as long as his mind is full of Fox talking points and he's ceding all policy to knee-jerk conservatives.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog