Marginalization of the Far Right in Trump White House?

A bit of wishful thinking in the wake of Steve Bannon's ouster.

Trump Shrug 2

In the wake of yesterday afternoon’s surprising ouster of Steve Bannon as Donald Trump’s chief advisor and signs that Bannon and others are going to wage a “war” against the administration from the outside, there’s room to hope that the far right will become less powerful–and even that we’ll see something more like a normal presidency.

Speaking with The Weekly Standard, run by leading #NeverTrump Republican Bill Kristol, Bannon had some harsh words for his former boss:

“The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over,” Bannon said Friday, shortly after confirming his departure. “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.”

The Atlantic‘s Rose Gray reports that Bannon is “going nuclear.”

“Steve is now unchained,” said a source close to Bannon. “Fully unchained.”

“He’s going nuclear,” said another friend. “You have no idea. This is gonna be really fucking bad.”

Bannon wasted no time in taking back the reins at Breitbart, from whence we get this:

President Donald Trump’s decision to part ways with Steve Bannon can be understood as an effort to save his presidency after Charlottesville. It may turn out to be the beginning of the end for the Trump administration, the moment Donald Trump became Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Like Trump, Schwarzenegger ran for high office as a celebrity outsider, promising to reform a corrupt, wasteful and lethargic political system, reaching across party lines.

When he took office in 2003 as Governor of California, “The Terminator” carried the hopes of conservatives in the Golden State, who saw him as a vehicle for their ideas, even if he was not a doctrinaire conservative himself. The faltering California Republican Party looked to Schwarzenegger to reverse its long-term decline, and Republicans elsewhere saw his success as a model from which they could learn as they courted moderate, swing-state voters.

But after struggling with intense media criticism, and after losing a key referendum on reforms to state government, Schwarzenegger gave up on his agenda, and abandoned the political base that had brought him into office. He re-invented himself as a liberal, embracing policies such as California’s controversial cap-and-trade program, which had zero effect on climate change but has chased businesses, jobs, and middle-class families out of the state.

Axios’ Jonathan Swan says Bannon is preparing to “go to war.”

Steve Bannon’s next moves will be all about the billionaire Mercer family. I’m told Bannon, who visited New York this week, met with Bob Mercer and together they will be a well-funded force on the outside.

  • Bannon has felt liberated since it became clear he was being pushed out, according to friends. He’s told associates he has a “killing machine” in Breitbart News, and it’s possible he returns to lead their editorial operation.
  • A source familiar with Breitbart’s operations told me they would go “thermonuclear” against ”globalists” that  Bannon and his friends believe are ruining the Trump administration, and by extension, America.
  • Watch for Breitbart’s Washington Editor Matt Boyle to be a central figure in this war — which has already begun — against White House officials like HR McMaster, Dina Powell, Gary Cohn, and Jared and Ivanka.

And it looks like Bannon’s ally Seb Gorka, who has been pushing a much harder line on Islamist terrorism than the defense secretary and national security advisor, is likely next out the door.

Since Trump’s shocking win last November, many of his critics have held out hope that his more extreme policy views and his penchant for undisciplined rants would be reined in by “the adults” in the administration, particularly Jim Mattis and John Kelly. Thus far, while there have been occasional signs of Trump’s listening to his more mainstream advisors, it has been clear that the likes of Bannon and Gorka–as well as his own gut instincts–almost always win out at the end.

But it’s hard to see the ouster of Bannon as anything but a win for Kelly and Team Grown-up. The most insidious, influential, and strategic-minded of the “alt-right” advisors is gone now. Indeed, most of the campaign team is out, too. To the extent that Trump is a guy who goes with whichever idea he’s most recently heard, getting rid of the worst of the worst advisors is a positive sign.

Moreover, Bannon’s attacks from the outside should further separate Trump from the alt-right/white nationalist fringe. Clearly, as evidenced by his remarks following the Chancellorsville outrages, Trump has natural sympathies for their viewpoints aside from Bannon’s counsel. But we also know that Trump reflexively fights back against those criticizing him, especially in a way that he finds belittling.

I have no illusions that Trump is suddenly going to become a studious consumer of intelligence and serious policy analysis. Or even that he’ll now reflexively have the reactions that we expect from our presidents. He’ll almost surely still give too much sway to his favorite daughter and son-in-law.  And issue too many ill-advised statements and early morning tweetstorms. But there’s reason to hope that the past few days are the low water mark of awful.

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    Bannon was most recently quoted, by Joshua Green of Bloomberg Business Week, as saying that he was going to go to war FOR Trump, not go to war AGAINST Trump.

    He plans to go after corporate America, the media, and Capitol Hill in support of Trump.

  2. Bannon or no Bannon the fact of the matter is that Trump remains Trump and Trump is responsible for the current state of his Administration. Perhaps I’ll be proven wrong, but I don’t think so. He’s not going to improve. He’s not going to become a better President. And, he’ not going to stop spouting off like he did this week. This is more likely to get worse before it ever it gets better. If it gets better, and I doubt that it will.

  3. @CSK:

    I expect we’ll see Bannon and Breitbart going to war against Congress and the enemies that Bannon perceived he had in the White House than Trump.

  4. michael reynolds says:

    But there’s reason to hope that the past few days are the low water mark of awful.

    No, there really isn’t, James. This only gets worse. Trump is incapable of accepting discipline, he’s oppositional to his core. The more he’s hemmed in by grown-ups, the more likely he is to lash out. In fact, that’s exactly why we are talking about Charlottesville, because he simply could not do the rational thing.

    Coming up we have Russia, the debt ceiling, tax reform, more Russia, an infrastructure bill, whatever idiot mischief Sessions is up to, a possible pardon for Joe Arpaio, and oh yeah: Russia. And that’s just a few of the known unknowns. We still have the unknown unknowns. North Korea? Iran? Yemen? Qatar? The fake Chinese islands? Ebola 2? 911 redux?

    No, it’s not going to get better because the person at the center of it all doesn’t want it to get better. He can’t function within ‘normal’ because ‘normal’ shows him up as the empty suit he is. He needs chaos to conceal his inadequacies. He needs his ego fed and it won’t be fed by Fox and Friends saying “Trump seems under control.”

    Trump is a criminal being pursued by Mueller. They’re going to start nailing Trump associates: Manafort and Flynn almost certainly. The noose is tightening and the man-baby won’t have it. He’ll precipitate a true constitutional crisis, and we will be damned lucky if we get through this without a major war.

    There is in short not the slightest reason to hope. He has to be removed, that is the only hope.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    But there’s reason to hope that the past few days are the low water mark of awful.

    For some reason or other, I find nuclear attacks on the White House, Congress, the Supreme Court, the NY Times and WaPo, CNN, MSNBC, Germany, France, England, Australia and Lesotho far more likely than any improvement in the trump admin.

  6. JohnMcC says:

    You know that things have gotten seriously fouled up when the best solution one can imagine for the screwed up mess that our national government has become is a military coup and quick new election.

  7. CSK says:

    @JohnMcC:

    Well, Felix Sater is predicting that Trump will be going to prison. Tony Schwartz is predicting Trump will resign this autumn.

    My preference is prison.

  8. Han says:

    @CSK: Why not both?

  9. Zachriel says:

    James Joyner: But there’s reason to hope that the past few days are the low water mark of awful.

    Let’s see, there’s about 18 Scaramuccis in a Friedman unit … aught two, carry the one… um …

    Almost any time now.

  10. CSK says:

    @Han:

    Resignation followed by prison works for me.

    Getting booted out on his large flabby keister and then imprisoned works even better.

  11. Facebones says:

    Bannon, like Turd Blossom Rove before him, are both bigly overrated as political savants.

    Their secret plans to win elections pretty much boiled down to riling up the base. (Rove with gay marriage, Bannon with immigrant hordes) Bannon was so successful he won 46% of the vote. They mainly served as bogeymen to help Democratic fundraising.

    And this won’t change Trump. He’s convinced he won a historic landslide all by himself and it’s all because of his brilliant instincts.

  12. Facebones says:

    @CSK: If he resigns, he can’t pardon himself.

  13. Moosebreath says:

    I tend to agree with Doug and Michael here. While removing Bannon (and hopefully Miller and Gorka) is good simply because Trump not hearing advice from people whose views are antithetical to the what I believe America should be is a good thing, Trump remains a person deeply unsuited to the Presidency who will be incapable of acting for the betterment of the country in a crisis. He will have no clue what the issues are, but will expect to obtain a maximal “win”, even if such a win has nothing to do with the policies he has espoused and nothing to do with improving the lives of the American people.

  14. CSK says:

    I too see no prospect of an improvement on Trump’s part, not just because he’s incapable of being anything what he is–petty, tyrannical, ignorant, delusional, and easily manipulable–but because his fan club likes him just the way he is.

    He’s holding himself another pep rally in Phoenix this coming Tuesday, even though the mayor asked him to postpone it. A couple of thousand yahoos will show up to cheer him on. He’ll fly back to D.C. that night convinced he’s the greatest statesman in history.

  15. teve tory says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I expect we’ll see Bannon and Breitbart going to war against Congress and the enemies that Bannon perceived he had in the White House than Trump.

    Huge amounts of infighting is a hallmark of a successful group. 😛

  16. MarkedMan says:

    I think Brannon is overrated as a political mover and shaker. But whatever effect he has will be negative on the Republican Party, which is good for the country. Breitbart, Hannity, Limbaugh, etc are all attack mode influencers. Their audience tunes in for the anger, contempt and spittle. With Republicans in charge of both houses and the presidency, they will be attacking other Republicans. Whatever effect Bannon has will be to accelerate the implosion of the GOP. I wish them success in this venture.

  17. I am glad Bannon is gone, but I don’t expect things to get better and fear that they will get worse.

    This week showed the limitations Kelly has in controlling the President’s impulses (and, really, when we are relying on the CoS to control the POTUS, we are in trouble anyway).

  18. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I am glad Bannon is gone, but I don’t expect things to get better and fear that they will get worse.

    Agreed.

    More generally, I think it is a persistent error to apply the usual kinds of political analysis to this administration. This is not a political administration — it is not the executive agent of the GOP. The GOP has outsourced the White House to an independent contractor — and a corrupt and incompetent one at that.

    I think Michael Reynolds’s characterization of the administration as a crime family trying to operate an unfamiliar turf has better predictive power than any of the usual models of partisan governance.

  19. rachel says:

    @JohnMcC: What!? NO!

  20. Storm says:

    Please sign and share.
    Formally recognize AntiFa as a terrorist organization:
    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/formally-recognize-antifa-terrorist-organization-0

  21. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK:

    Well, Felix Sater is predicting that Trump will be going to prison.

    I hadn’t seen that, but Sater would know. He knows what he told the feds.

    However, no, Trump won’t go to jail. That’ll be part of the deal in return for his resignation.

  22. gVOR08 says:

    Steve Bannon’s next moves will be all about the billionaire Mercer family. I’m told Bannon, who visited New York this week, met with Bob Mercer and together they will be a well-funded force on the outside.

    Bannon went to NY to get his orders. There’s no way to speculate what those orders are without knowing the current state of the relationship between Trump and the Mercers. Is he going to be an outside voice in opposition or in coordination?

    Did Trump push Bannon out because he was a liability, or did Trump, the Mercers, and Bannon agree Bannon had become too much of a lightning rod? Maybe same with Gorka. Have to wait and see if any of the less visible fascisti get pushed out.

  23. CSK says:

    @gVOR08:

    On the basis of what I’ve read, I’m speculating that Manafort and Sater have cut themselves deals with Mueller: They rat out Trump in exchange for use immunity or some degree of lenience, though Sater has apparently told his own family that he’ll be checking into the Crossbar Motel along with Trump.

    Sater also predicts that this will all explode in 30-35 days, which, interestingly, coincides with Tony Schwartz’s forecast that Trump will resign this fall.

  24. Gustopher says:

    But it’s hard to see the ouster of Bannon as anything but a win for Kelly and Team Grown-up.

    I see it as continuing chaos and churn from a failed administration headed by a petty, vindictive man with no loyalty to anyone around him, and who is desperate to blame anyone else for his own failures.

    Kelly isn’t winning so much as he is momentarily on top of the maelstrom.

    Don’t get me wrong, Bannon is scum, and in an ordinary administration his removal would be an unqualified good thing, but here there is plenty of scum, and more pouring in to the frothy mixture.

  25. Gustopher says:

    @Storm:

    Please sign and share.
    Formally recognize AntiFa as a terrorist organization

    Maybe it’s just me, but these days I can’t see a username containing the word “Storm” without immediately thinking of Stormfront, and the Daily Stormer…

    Especially when they are attempting to do the work of deflecting the focus from the nazis and the KKK and the white supremacists that make up the alt-right.

  26. MarkedMan says:

    It came to me that perhaps the best way to push fence sitters out of the “Trump is my guy” camp is to relentlessly push out the message: Trump says what you want to hear, but Trump is a constant liar. And we’ve all had this type of person in our lives before and we know that it always, always goes bad. Sure, he says things you like. That’s what liars do, they tell you what you want to hear. But they don’t mean it and are only doing so to distract you while they are doing what they really want.

  27. MarkedMan says:

    Is the Antifa dangerously violent right now. I don’t think so. In the US at least they have mostly been simply standing up to the thugs on the right, who are used to being the only goons at the ballgame and are now whining that they might get hurt. Does the Antifa have the capacity to factionalize and generate truly dangerous and violent arms? Yes. Everything in my life experience tells me that when an ad hoc group embraces violence it eventually attracts people who are prone to violence in and of themselves. These “cause” thugs may be thugs or killers first and foremost but for whatever reason they feel the need to justify it with one extremist cause or another. For the radical right it can be the Confederacy or the Constitution or Protecting the Race. Many with no particular political allegiance align themselves with some radical splinter of one religion or another, be it the most extreme sects of Wahabi Islam or the crazy uber-“Christian” segments of Serbian Orthodoxy. The anti-abortion murderers and bombers fall into that category too.

  28. @Gustopher:

    Maybe it’s just me, but these days I can’t see a username containing the word “Storm” without immediately thinking of Stormfront, and the Daily Stormer…

    It is not just you.

  29. teve tory says:

    rob delaney‏ Verified account @robdelaney 22h22 hours ago
    More

    I’m truley sorry I voted for Trump. I only wanted disabled kids to lose their Medicaid ;I didn’t want people to know im racist

  30. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Manafort and Flynn amount to “which one flips first?”

    Already, neither of them can afford their current legal bills, and we’re still only in the investigatory stage. I expect one of them to decide that bankruptcy isn’t fun and start singing soon.

    Sater? He’s already cut his deal, I have no doubt, and I bet it’s a piece of work.

  31. JKB says:

    @JohnMcC: our national government has become is a military coup and quick new election.

    That would be a nice trick since a military coup would abrogate the Constitution. Are you sure you can tape back together that which you tear apart? Not to mention, every military member who betrayed their oath by participating in the coup, or not summarily executing their traitorous commanders, would be dishonored and if they lost power, subject to trial and execution.

    It’s a nice fantasy, but since we are actually a government of the People, a coup would make the conspirators and supporters actual enemies of the People compared to the rhetorical usage of the phrase by socialist/communist governments

  32. Argon says:

    What about Breitbart is simply not the capture of the people inclined to the John Birch society?

  33. @JohnMcC:

    You know that things have gotten seriously fouled up when the best solution one can imagine for the screwed up mess that our national government has become is a military coup and quick new election.

    I would counsel heavily against suggesting a coup is an appropriate solution.

  34. James Pearce says:

    @Storm:

    Formally recognize AntiFa as a terrorist organization:

    They’re not even an organization.

    (And no one here is going to sign that BS anyway.)

  35. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce:

    They’re not even an organization.

    “But but but but… They were mean to us.”

  36. michael reynolds says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Will they flip if they think they’re going to get a presidential pardon?

    I think it will depend on whether there are state (or non-US) charges that can be brought, because I think Trump has clearly signaled his intention to grant federal pardon to everyone associated with his criminal activities.

  37. Slugger says:

    Many, most American politicians are not ideologues but self-interested people willing to surf an ideological wave. When they see a parade go by, they drag a baton out of the closet and run to the front of the parade to try to make people think that they are leading the show. When they are in a position of power, they understand instinctively that they can maintain their ardent supporters by throwing them a bone now and then, but they need to win or at least neutralize the people on the other side. This is something Trump does get. A few self-deprecating jokes at the White House correspondents’ dinner would have helped him more than a thousand “Fake News” rants. He now thinks that the Bannons of this world don’t swing much weight and gets rid of him like an ex-wife who has developed a few wrinkles, but he is incapable of reaching out because he thinks the President is an autocrat. Mr. Trump, go to the Kennedy Center Honors; Gloria Estefan won’t bite, I promise.

  38. Slugger says:

    I obviously left out a “not” in the Trump getting stuff sentence. My brain is full of deep thoughts that they step on each other’s toes now and then.

  39. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I don’t believe that, in the end, he’ll pardon anybody.

  40. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Certainly not anyone who turns on him.

  41. michael reynolds says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Betcha dinner at the brasserie of your choice next time I’m in Paris. Oysters and Sancerre at a little round table somewhere in the 4th or the 6th, maybe, steak frites with a Rhone red? Finish off with a creme caramel or profiteroles? Talisker, if there’s any left, because the Bay Area seems to have run out.

    And I seem to have drifted off to daydreaming about Paris. Last time I was there was with my teenagers, so that doesn’t count.

  42. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over,

    From your lips to God’s ears, Steve. I can only hope that it is so.

  43. JohnMcC says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Gosh, I’ll hasten to apologize and retract if that little gem seemed serious. Turner Classic Movies had ‘Seven Days in May’ the other day and it occurred to me that the plotters would, in our present status, end up getting some audience sympathy. Then there is the historically unique constellation of generals around Pres Trump. And speculation in the media about McMaster and Kelly basically agreeing to not leave the President’s entourage at the same time lest some urge to bomb someone crosses the presidential mind.

    Well…. Anyhow OTB got the benefit of those musings.

    Completely unserious. Another in a long line of ‘I shoulda kept my mouth shut’ moments.

  44. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    …it has been clear that the likes of Bannon and Gorka–as well as the avatars of his own gut instincts–almost always win out at the end.

    FTFY.

  45. Andre Kenji says:

    Bannon was going after McMaster. He stood no chance against a Three Star General, these people are professional politicians, we was a poltical neophyte.

  46. @JohnMcC: No worries-tone is always difficult to ascertain in these things.

    I only responded because I have seen, in passing, some people saying similar things (and seemingly seriously).

  47. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @CSK: It’s possible that Sater is going the other direction–one’s position in Hell is determined by the number and rank of the people one brings as one’s entourage.

  48. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Deal. au Petit Tonneau, in the 7th.

    Dinner at Guy Savoy and/or Divellec, on my dime, regardless.

    Having the luxury of rediscovering this amazing city, at my leisure, made whatever irritations getting here involved totally worth it. Reports that have gained weight, however, are utter lies which should be disregarded.

  49. MarkedMan says:

    @HarvardLaw92: HL92, I’m curious as to why you believe that? You obviously have a much better appraisal of the legal side of things than I do. So do you think he will be advised not to pardon, because it frees up the pardoned one to testify? Or do you think his criminal co-conspirators will actively avoid a pardon for some reason?

    I remember writing on this very blog that Trump was not seriously seeking the nomination because he would never be so stupid as to invite the scrutiny it would bring to his business dealings. I say this just to point out that any sentence that starts out “Trump wouldn’t do that because it is stupid” is a mug’s bet.

  50. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I think that, from his perspective, the motivation is to encourage people to shut up, but those who might be encouraged to do so have now seen fellow traveler after fellow traveler already thrown under the bus. The time to have played that particular card has already long passed, and his advisors well know it.

    The biggest reason, though, is that it’s just a shitty form of carrot. It removes any ability to hide behind the 5th, and it does nothing with respect to state level charges. These people would find themselves in a situation where they’d be compelled to give testimony under penalty of contempt at the federal level which then could (and would) be used against them at the state level. Meanwhile, these folks are going bankrupt in the here and now. If they haven’t rolled already, it won’t be much longer. Flynn is already begging for donations.

    Short version: at least somebody in his harem understands that it would make things much worse for him while gaining essentially nothing. If he pardons anybody at all, and I have my doubts about that, it’ll be someone disconnected from his personal mess simply for the optics to his fans – like say Arpaio.

  51. MarkedMan says:

    @HarvardLaw92: He may blanket pardon his family for everything under the sun. That’s why I was asking a couple of weeks ago if he had to specify what he is pardoning them for. But from what you said, he can just say “I pardon Eric and Donny Jr. and Ivanka and Jared for everything they’ve ever done.” As for compelling them to testify at the federal level, couldn’t they still plead the fifth if it jeopardizes them at the state level?

  52. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @MarkedMan:

    It wouldn’t do them any good. Their prior federal testimony would already be on the record and admissible in subsequent matters. They’d still have the option of exercising their rights under the 5A for unrelated matters, but I can’t imagine what those might be.

  53. James Pearce says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    “But but but but… They were mean to us.”

    Or in the words of murderer Jeremy Christian, who claimed he was defending himself against “violent aggression” from the guys who told him to stop harassing two Muslim girls, “death to antifa!”

  54. Ratufa says:

    @Facebones:

    Bannon was so successful he won 46% of the vote.

    Whatever Bannon’s actual skill as a political strategist, that’s a strange criticism given that the election is scored by counting electoral votes, not popular votes.

  55. MarkedMan says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Sorry, I’m being dense here. But let’s say Trump blanket pardons Jared today. And let’s say that, hypothetically, Jared made a deal with the Russians for bailing his stupid 666 building out in exchange for laundering oligarchs money. And let’s say further that Mueller continues on and says, “Jared you little weasel, now that you are pardoned I compel you to testify truthfully about your shenanigans.”

    Can’t the weasel, Jared, just say, “I take the fifth because testifying may incriminate me in state court, for which I am not pardoned. “?

  56. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher:

    Maybe it’s just me, but these days I can’t see a username containing the word “Storm” without immediately thinking of Stormfront, and the Daily Stormer…

    I think they got the name from “storm troopers.” In other words, George Lucas should sue them for plagiarism. Where is people’s originality these days, man?

  57. Kylopod says:

    @Ratufa:

    Whatever Bannon’s actual skill as a political strategist, that’s a strange criticism given that the election is scored by counting electoral votes, not popular votes.

    Agreed. I’m no fan of the Electoral College, I’d like to see it replaced by a national popular vote. But for now it’s the game you play, and the Trump team played it better than the Hillary team. Dems aren’t going to learn anything until they recognize that fact.

  58. Monala says:

    Since everything is personal to Trump, I wonder if Bannon’s ouster is also personal. Specifically, I’m thinking about David Duke targeting Jared and Ivanka on Twitter, and the white supremacist in the Vice video who criticized Trump for “giving his daughter to a Jew.” If there’s anyone in this world who Trump loves, it’s Ivanka, however creepy his love for her might be. Maybe Trump agrees with Bannon and other white supremacists in general, but the attacks on his daughter are a bridge too far.

  59. Kylopod says:

    @Monala: Nothing I’ve seen so far has suggested Jared and Ivanka have lifted a finger to try to rein in Trump’s white nationalist leanings. Everyone just sort of assumes they are because (a) They’re practicing Jews (b) They appear sane.

    My impression is that they literally don’t care. They’re people whose only real goal is the acquisition of power and enlargement of their business empire, and they’d happily sell out their own people if that’s what it takes. Anytime Donald does one of his disgusting racist or anti-Semitic things, you either don’t hear from them at all, or you hear them defending him. Holocaust Rememberance Day omission of Jews? Blank. Endorsing Marine Le Pen, who called for revoking the Israeli passports of French Jews? Blank. Praise for Alex Jones, who has talked about a “Jewish mafia”? Blankety blank.

    One fact that rarely gets mentioned is that Donald didn’t approve of her decision to convert:

    In fact, Ivanka has acted against her father’s wishes on only a handful of occasions. One of them, a few sources told me, came when she decided to convert to Judaism. The Trumps are nominally Presbyterian, but have never been particularly religious. Still, Donald didn’t like the idea of Ivanka switching faiths, according to one of his close associates. The power dynamic made him uncomfortable. His feeling, the source said, was: Why should my daughter have to convert to marry Jared? He should have to convert to marry her.

    For the record, I’m not suggesting Trump’s attitude here is anti-Semitic. But it does provide evidence that Jared and Ivanka’s repeated claim that he’s always been warmly accepting and tolerant of their Jewish faith isn’t entirely accurate. They aren’t putting their cards on the table.

    I’m an Orthodox Jew myself, and I can tell you, the laws and rituals are extraordinarily complicated. And I’m someone who’s been doing it my whole life and am totally used to it. For instance, if you have dinner with a non-Jew, they’re going to have to learn a string of arcane rules about what food can be served, how it can be prepared, and so on. The families of converts adapt to this sort of thing all the time, and usually it’s fine. But frankly, I have a lot of trouble believing a narcissistic man-child like Trump who wasn’t happy about her converting in the first place wouldn’t have put up a fuss.

    Of course, Jared and Ivanka never admit he’s a narcissistic man-child. They describe him like he’s the love child of Gandhi and Mother Theresa. That’s why the picture of them as the voice of reason in the administration, pushing him toward saner positions, is so questionable. They’re propagandists, essentially. They’re to Donald what Leni Riefenstahl was to Hitler. Their role is to smile, to ignore all his controversial positions, and to claim against all available evidence that Donald Trump is a fantastic human being. They’re like mental patients who seem sane in all ways except for their insistence that the elephant in the room is in fact a mouse.

  60. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:

    Excellent. You really nailed it here.

  61. teve tory says:

    @Kylopod:

    Stormtroopers were specialist soldiers of the German Army in World War I. In the last years of the war, Stoßtruppen (“Shock troops” or “Thrust Troops”) were trained to fight with “infiltration tactics”, part of the Germans’ new method of attack on enemy trenches.[1] Men trained in these methods were known in Germany as Sturmmann (literally “storm man” but usually translated as “stormtrooper”), formed into companies of Sturmtruppen (“assault troops”, more often and less exactly “storm troops”). The infiltration tactics of the stormtroopers are still in use today, in one form or another. Other armies have also used the term “assault troops”, “shock troops” or fireteams for specialist soldiers who perform the infiltration tasks of stormtroopers.

  62. JohnMcC says:

    @teve tory: In the wake of the 1st Gulf War I remember seeing in the paper that a parade was held for returning Nat’l Guardsmen in some town. A local business on the parade route put up a message on their marquee: Welcome Home, Storm Troopers.

    Of course, the war was branded as ‘Desert Storm’. So allowance can be made, I guess for such historic (in 2 meanings) ignorance.

    But as someone who was born immediately after VJ Day, I realize daily that historic forgetfulness has already swept most knowledge of WW2 away. Most Americans would have to use the google to discover ‘what is VJ Day’?

  63. Kylopod says:

    @teve tory: You know that was a joke, right?

    Some years back I saw someone tell a story about how her fifth grade son thought Hitler got the idea of storm troopers from watching Star Wars.

  64. teve tory says:

    @Kylopod: 😛

  65. Monala says:

    @Kylopod: I think you misunderstood me. I wasn’t talking about Ivanka and Jared reining in Trump. It’s clear that they have not and will not.

    I was talking about Trump himself, who can’t stand any criticism of himself and usually retaliates against those who make it, and who sees Ivanka as an extension of himself. Is it possible that the alt-right criticisms of him regarding Ivanka and Jared led him to retaliate against Bannon, their leading voice?

  66. Monala says:

    @Kylopod: to add to my previous comment: Trump wouldn’t respond this way because he supports their Judaism, but because in his mind, a criticism of Ivanka is a criticism of him.

  67. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Can’t the weasel, Jared, just say, “I take the fifth because testifying may incriminate me in state court, for which I am not pardoned. “?

    Not really. Courts frown on hypotheticals, and trying to assert the 5A based on the assertion that testimony may be used against you in some hypothetical parallel sovereign action which doesn’t yet exist is a nice way to garner a contempt citation. He’d be under no threat of punitive action with regard to the content of his testimony in the extant federal proceeding, and that proceeding is all that the federal judge overseeing it would be concerned with.

    He could, of course, try to move to have the prior federal testimony excluded in any subsequent state level action, but I wouldn’t like his chances of success.

  68. MarkedMan says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Thanks. So if the states wait until after he has been compelled to testify to charge him, he’s caught between, contempt, perjury or admission of guilt.

  69. Kylopod says:

    @Monala: Gotcha. But how aware is Donald of the alt-right’s criticisms of Javanka? He doesn’t listen to mainstream news (aka “fake news”), that much is clear. He listens to Breitbart, but I’m not sure how critical Breitbart has been of Javanka. Despite Bannon’s oft-quoted description of the site as a “platform for the alt right,” it is the outer edges of the movement. They’ve never printed Richard Spencer (the man who coined the term “alt right”), let alone David Duke. They’re part of the sector of the movement that is sometimes called “alt lite.” It’s less overtly anti-Semitic (it employs many Jews, in fact), closer to the mainstream, and it tends to describe its affinity for the alt right as more a matter of high-class trolling than a true commitment to white nationalist ideology. I’d bet Donald isn’t even aware of those David Duke tweets directed at his daughter and son-in-law.

  70. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Actually, it sounds better when you call it by its ancestral name: Der Stuermer.

  71. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @michael reynolds: Try “La Rose de France” in the Place Dauphine. My wife and I dined there in 1987, and again in 2015. Their steak tartare is superb.

  72. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Bingo – which is why the affected states would cheerfully sit on their behinds and wait for the federal proceedings to conclude. They’ll get their investigative work done for them and they have no considerations about enticement to worry themselves with. Don’t want to testify? Ok, we’ll read in your federal testimony and cite you for contempt in the bargain.

    A pardon, realistically speaking, would be a disaster for these people.