In an editorial in today’s USA Today, Republican consultant and commentator Cheri Jacobus tells us that we should be concerned about how quickly and efficiently Steve Bannon’s professional life and prospects were ruined once he went on the record about the defects of the president and his family.
It doesn’t matter who is the target, or that our disgust toward the likes of Bannon is appropriate and well-earned. The swiftness and robot-like precision with which Trump’s allies dislodged their lips from Bannon’s MAGA derriere, so they could effectively reach for their shivs upon orders from Trump, is chilling.
Her worry is not that there is some kind of injustice here, but that it sends a warning to any other would-be truth-tellers or whistleblowers. And that’s a fair point, as far as it goes.
But the defenestration of Steve Bannon was something earnestly desired by most elected Republicans, especially in the U.S. Senate. Bannon’s Breitbart News earned its audience not just by catering to deplorables but by pushing primaries against insufficiently deplorable lawmakers. For this reason, Bannon’s elevation to campaign manager in Trump’s campaign was met with revulsion, and his placement at the right hand of the president was met with dread. He had few allies on Capitol Hill, and many of the people who acted like allies were really just protecting their right flank.
This is one of the reasons why it was so easy for Trump to cut him off at the knees. Trump was really the only person propping up Bannon in the first place. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell not only applauded Bannon’s downfall—he could barely contain his glee.
Another point worth making here is that Bannon wasn’t guilty of mere whistleblowing. He made personal attacks on the president’s family, such as calling Ivanka “dumb as a brick.” I don’t imagine that David Axelrod would have had much of a future in Democratic politics if he’d said something like that about Sasha or Malia. In that sense, Bannon committed a form of career suicide.
So, yes, it’s troubling to think that anyone considering telling the truth about Trump from within his inner circle will now have Bannon’s sad fate to deter them, but his self-destructive behavior hastened his demise.
Besides, I don’t think the last chapter has been written about Steve Bannon. He will be back.