The Trump administration has not racked up any major policy accomplishments in its first 80 days, but not for lack of trying. President Donald Trump’s travel ban on Muslim countries is snarled up in the courts, his bid to “repeal and replace” Obamacare foundered due to Republican Party infighting and the administration’s plans for tax reform have been thrown into disarray by the failure of the health care bill. It’s all quite embarrassing for a president who sold himself to the public as a guy who gets things done.
Such a high concentration of failure demands that someone (other than Trump) take the blame, and it’s looking like that person will be chief strategist Steve Bannon. Axios reported Monday morning that Bannon is on thin ice for being “too inclined to want to burn things down and blow things up,” and his position inside the White House is being undermined by the presidents’ adviser-relatives son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump “who are pushing for a more competence- and results-driven focus for the West Wing.”
So the plan is for the Trump administration to pivot to not always being a smoldering tire fire of persistent ineptitude. Removing Bannon from the equation would be a necessary precondition to implementing this change, given that his only real talent seems to be scaring people into thinking he’s the dark lord of political disruption. That reputation notwithstanding, every policy initiative he and his baroque “economic nationalist” ideology have touched has either backfired or fallen into disrepair. Bannon’s fervor is undermined by his lack of understanding of how the government works.
That same problem, however, applies to the people who want to force Bannon out. Kushner has no government experience and has far more responsibilities on his plate than any one person could hope to manage. His chief qualification for his job inside the White House is that he’s married to president’s daughter, who similarly has no government experience to draw on for her own high-powered position in the West Wing. So even if Bannon were to be evicted, the Trump administration could just be trading one flavor of incompetence for another.