In the span of less than a month the modern GOP essentially regained control of the White House. It began with the appointment of Mike Kelly to the White House. Soon after, Kelly probably began agitating for the ouster of Bannon and Trump’s combined political and policy failures were laid at Bannon’s feet.
Indeed, even without the establishment pushing for Bannon’s ouster it probably would have happened anyway. Bannon seemed to think he didn’t have to bridges to the Congressional GOP or Democrats to get big, controversial pieces of legislation passed. Not sure why. Maybe he had superpowers.
Either way, Bannon is gone and many Republicans can breathe a sigh of relief. It probably would not have mattered to 80 percent of the GOP caucus in the House and Senate but for Dean Heller in Nevada, Jeff Flake in Arizona and two dozen or so Republicans in swing, suburban districts it did. With Bannon out they hope Kelly can right the ship of state and give Trump some successes to run on that unite the party pre-2018.
Bannon’s ouster, ostensibly done with Trump’s success, is somewhat surprising considering Trump’s dwindling approval ratings and his increasing reliance on the base for support. On the other hand, a lot of Trump’s problems can be laid at Bannon’s feet. The lack of any kind of coherent vision certainly did not help either.
Reportedly, Bannon was the one who pushed for the travel ban in Trump’s first week instead of an infrastructure package. Likewise, on healthcare and immigration Bannon was willing to step back and let Congress wrangle over the details. No wonder we don’t have a wall.
Against this backdrop, the larger and more modern wing of the GOP was able to mobilize and unable to stop Trump electorally they began to put people in the White House they trusted. Consider Huckabee is now Press Secretary and Kelly now advises the President.
Without a coherent set of ideas and legislation to manifest into policy the conventional politics of the GOP was able to push back easily. Consider the modern GOP has been around since Richard Nixon in 1960 and Barry Goldwater in 1964. Goldwater founded conservatism while Nixon was probably the last true moderate Republican elected to office. Combined, these two factions have had collective control of the GOP for over 50 years. That is a long time for thoughts, ideas and politicians to establish control of the party.
Now, consider how long Trumpism has dominated the GOP. A whole, spanking eight months. That is eight months of non-stop controversy in the White House. Trump’s America First ideas are great and all but it lacks any intellectual heft.
Think of it this way. What does America First even mean? To his supporters it means no more bad trade deals, building a wall along the border, only protecting American interests abroad, etc. But how is that going to happen? Crickets.
Traditional GOP ideas like promoting free trade deals, opposing gay marriage, protecting gun rights, reforming immigration, fighting terrorism across the globe, all have a long track record of policies and ideas to back them up. Along this with, they have the general support of the vast majority of the GOP political apparatus and our backed up by rich donors and numerous think-tanks. Trump does not have such hefty backing.
Take the case of Trump’s predicament in Afghanistan. The country is spiraling back into chaos and the best Bannon could come up with is let’s train the Afghan army. Well, you know, that times time and is currently being attempted. In the interim, there need to be trained troops already fighting to keep the government from collapsing. Just an FYI.
What Trump has is the loyal support of 30 percent of America. The problem is this does not lead to ideas becoming law or bills being passed. It does not lead to buy-in from Congress or the Judiciary. It does not convince Independents to support such policies. Bannon might have subscribed to the notion this doesn’t matter and economic nationalism would be enough. It isn’t.
The White House’s lack of policy success stands in stark contrast to Paul Ryan’s House (that establishment RINO him). Ryan’s House has repealed a dozen controversial regulations, passed healthcare reform, passed major anti-illegal immigrant legislation (Kate’s Law) and dozens of other big and small pieces of legislation. Hmm, seems to me Paul Ryan’s wing of the GOP has buy-in from many Republicans and in turn is actually being productive. Yet, ironically, while Paul Ryan is the bigger threat to progressives, politically all their fire is directed towards the inept and seemingly neutered White House.
In his closing remarks, Bannon said, “The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over, we still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency. But that presidency is over. It’ll be something else. And there’ll be all kinds of fights, and there’ll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over.”
I’m thinking good. Maybe with Kelly in charge we can finally get some things done.