Steve Bannon Is Out At The White House

Another one bites the dust.

Donald Trump Steve Bannon

The New York Times is reporting that Steve Bannon, the controversial Presidential adviser who left his position with Breitbart News to become a top adviser to the President, is leaving the White House:

Stephen K. Bannon, the embattled chief strategist who helped President Trump win the 2016 election but clashed for months with other senior West Wing advisers, is leaving his post, a White House spokeswoman announced Friday.

“White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.”

Earlier on Friday, the president had told senior aides that he had decided to remove Mr. Bannon, according to two administration officials briefed on the discussion. But a person close to Mr. Bannon insisted that the parting of ways was his idea, and that he had submitted his resignation to the president on Aug. 7, to be announced at the start of this week. But the move was delayed after the racial unrest in Charlottesville, Va.

The loss of Mr. Bannon, the right-wing nationalist who helped propel some of Mr. Trump’s campaign promises into policy reality, raises the potential for the president to face criticism from the conservative news media base that supported him over the past year.

Mr. Bannon’s many critics bore down after the violence in Charlottesville. Outraged over Mr. Trump’s insistence that “both sides” were to blame for the violence that erupted at a white nationalist rally, leaving one woman dead, human rights activists demanded that the president fire so-called nationalists working in the West Wing. That group of hard-right populists in the White House is led by Mr. Bannon.

On Tuesday at Trump Tower in New York, Mr. Trump refused to guarantee Mr. Bannon’s job security but defended him as “not a racist” and “a friend.”

“We’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon,” Mr. Trump said

Mr. Bannon’s dismissal followed an Aug. 16 interview he initiated with a writer with whom he had never spoken, with the progressive publication The American Prospect. In it, Mr. Bannon mockingly played down the American military threat to North Korea as nonsensical: “Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.”

He also bad-mouthed his colleagues in the Trump administration, vowed to oust a female diplomat at the State Department and mocked officials as “wetting themselves” over the consequences of radically changing trade policy.

Of the far right, he said, “These guys are a collection of clowns,” and he called it a “fringe element” of “losers.”

“We gotta help crush it,” he said in the interview, which people close to Mr. Bannon said he believed was off the record.

While it’s being reported that Bannon resigned his position, reports are making it clear that Bannon was basically fired and that this is apparently something that has been building for the past two weeks. This, of course, It was only a few days ago, that I noted that there were signs that Bannon’s days in the White House might be numbered based on reports from White House insiders. According to these reports, Bannon was under fire from a number of corners including newly installed Chief of Staff John Kelly and members of Trump’s family such as his son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka. Additionally, there were indications that some members of Trump’s foreign policy team, principally National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster but apparently including others, were pushing back against the influence that Bannon was trying to assert over Trump’s thinking on foreign policy matters and questions of how to proceed forward on issues ranging from military strategy in Afghanistan and ISIS to North Korea. Reports are also saying that Trump and Bannon had talked about Bannon leaving as early as last week, but that the announcement was delayed in the wake of the events in Charlottesville and the furor that rose up in the wake of the President’s remarks in the wake of that event.

This is, of course, the third major shake-up in the Trump Administration in just over six months. The first came less than a month ago on July 21st when Press Secretary/White House Communications Director Sean Spicer, who had been under increased pressure and scrutiny as the press coverage of Trump became more and more negative, left and Anthony Scaramucci was named to the position of White House Communications Director. Scaramucci, however, lasted only a week and he was out of by the end of July, which was actually several weeks before he was to officially begin working at the White House. In between, Chief of Staff and former Republican Reince Priebus resigned as White House Chief of Staff and was replaced by retired General John Kelly, who had been the Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security. And now we have Steve Bannon, who has been at Trump’s side for the past year, leaving. All of this happened over the course of just 29 days.

As with Scaramucci’s departure, Bannon’s resignation coincided with an interview that he gave to a journalist which proved to be exceedingly controversial. In Scaramucci’s case, it was a profanity-laced interview with The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza in which he attacked pretty much everyone in the White House from Priebus all the way to Bannon and seemed to contradict official White House policy on a number of points. In Bannon’s case, it was an interview with The American Prospect’s Robert Kutner in which Bannon seemed to come across as just as self-promoting as Scaramucci was and where he also seemingly undermined the President’s positions on a number of issues, including his handling of the North Korea issue:

Stephen K. Bannon, the White House chief strategist, seemed to take issue with President Trump on North Korea, attacked white supremacists as “clowns” and “losers” and described his efforts against administration rivals in an unusual interview Wednesday with The American Prospect, a progressive magazine.

The interview with magazine co-editor and columnist Robert Kuttner was initiated by Bannon, Kuttner said, in an Anthony Scaramucci-style phone call out of the blue in response to a column Kuttner had written on China.

“Bannon was in high spirits when he phoned me Tuesday afternoon to discuss the politics of taking a harder line with China, and minced no words describing his efforts to neutralize rivals at the Departments of Defense, State and Treasury,” wrote Kuttner.

“‘They’re wetting themselves,’ he said, proceeding to detail how he would oust some of his opponents at State and Defense.”

On North Korea, Bannon said: “‘Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.'”

That comment seemed at odds with Trump’s “fire and fury” threats to use military force against North Korea.

On China, Bannon told Kuttner that the United States was at “economic war” and warned that “one of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years and it’s gonna be them if we go down this path,” according to the article.

“On Korea, they’re just tapping us along. It’s just a sideshow,” he said.

Bannon was also asked by Kuttner to comment on the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville last weekend and President Trump’s reluctance to condemn the participants.

“Ethno-nationalism — it’s losers. It’s a fringe element,” Bannon told the magazine. “I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, eh, help crush it more.”

“These guys are a collection of clowns,” he added.

The remarks were startling coming from Bannon, who spent more than four years running the far-right website Breitbart News before he was tapped to join Trump’s campaign.

Bannon, the site’s former executive chair, has called the Breitbart “a platform of the alt-right.”

This interview hit the media only a few days ago and was proving to be quite controversial even though it was being somewhat overshadowed by the coverage of the controversy that has arisen over the President’s remarks regarding the violence in Charlottesville. The fact that Bannon’s dismissal came so quickly afterwards, though, raises at least some suspicion that it was in response to the interview and the fact that Bannon was stepping on the toes of not only the President but also his entire foreign policy team, not to mention the signals it sent to the Chinese and North Koreans by essentially signalling that Trump’s increased bellicosity was nothing more than a bluff and that there was no real threat of American military intervention on the Korean peninsula.

Bannon’s departure raises a number of questions both regarding his own future and the future of the Trump Administration.

With respect to Bannon, Gabriel Sherman at New York magazine is reporting on Twitter that Bannon would be returning to Breitbart, and it’s worth noting that Sherman has proven to be someone who has very good sources inside conservative media notwithstanding himself that he is someone who leans decidedly to the left. Sherman is also saying that a Bannon friend is saying that Breitbart seems to be preparing to go to war against the Administration, saying that “It’s now a Democrat White House.” This second report from Sherman came after Joel Pollack, a senior editor at Breitbart, sent out a Tweet that had a single word, “#War,” which appeared to signal that the reaction from the alt-right publication to Bannon’s apparent dismissal would be a negative one. Shortly thereafter, an article appeared on Breitbart’s front page under Pollack’s byline with the headline “With Steve Bannon Gone, Donald Trump Risks Becoming Arnold Schwarzenegger 2.0.” If this is an indication that Breitbart could be about to turn negative against Trump, it could make things very interesting indeed.

With respect to the Trump Administration, it’s hard to predict exactly what this means. There are some who will argue that Bannon’s departure constitutes a victory for people like Chief of Staff John Kelly, NSC Director H.R. McMaster, and Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, all of whom have been known to butt heads with Bannon over a number of issues. Ultimately, though, the idea that this could mean a change of direction for the Trump Administration seems unlikely. In the end, the Administration is Donald Trump and if the events of the past week prove anything, they prove that Trump is incapable of being anything other than what he has already been. In some respect, these changes may just solidify that reality, especially given the fact that Bannon’s departure comes at the same time that Hope Hicks, who has been at Trump’s side since his campaign started, took over as White House Communications Director. In the end, the problem with the Trump Administration isn’t Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, Anthony Scaramucci, or Steven Bannon it’s Donald Trump. Nobody is going to be able to change him, not Jared and Invaka, and not John Kelly.  Without a doubt, though, this has been the most chaotic month of Trump’s Presidency, and it’s not even over yet.

We’re only at Day 211, folks. This is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

Update: To further emphasize the point I made about what kind of month it’s been consider this video clip from CNN’s coverage of the Bannon departure:

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. pylon says:

    While this one is big, the evictions at the WH (or in the Trump campaign) never seem to amount to much. One reason is that many of the more odious evictees seem to still get a lot of access and input with Trump (see Lewandowski, Jones, Flynn).




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  2. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Did he resign because he was revolted by Donnie John’s C-ville comments?
    I crack myself up….




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  3. MarkedMan says:

    Is Bannon out? Or is he “out”? Last week I said that if he left his position (which is what? Something indeterminate like “Senior Advisor”?) he would still have Trump’s ear and still be advising him. For god’s sake look at Corey Lewandowski. Look at anyone in Trump’s orbit over the years. Trump has an insatiable need for tough guys that tell him he is the greatest, smartest, guy in the room and is right to despise the lesser folk. As long as Bannon continues to fill that roll he will be a vital part of Trumps id.

    History has shown that you only leave Trump’s orbit if you a) turn on Trump or b) take yourself out of that humiliating cesspool.




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  4. michael reynolds says:

    We have now with Trump the ‘mad king’ trope.

    The peasants – Trump voters – tell themselves that the king would help them, loves them, but is surrounded by evil advisers. They don’t know the king is insane, incapable, and utterly indifferent to them.

    Those same ‘evil’ advisers use the mad king for their own profit, but being a bit smarter than the king they know there are limits. So they feed us Steve Bannon’s rancid corpse hoping the pursuing wolves will stop to gobble him up.

    The wolves don’t fall for it. They persist.

    Who is left for Trump to throw to the wolves? He’s thrown Priebus, Spicer, the Mooch, now Bannon. He’s tried to throw Sessions, Comey, Mueller, Mitch McConnell and various Republican senators. In the end he’ll have to turn on Kelly. He’s the only consequential disposable left.

    But the mad king’s problem is the mad king himself. Like a frantic paranoid schizophrenic he sees enemies everywhere, lashes out, rants and flails, all the while tragically unaware that he is his own enemy.

    Kind of like Lear but written by morons.




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  5. Neil Hudelson says:

    The comments at Breitbart are schadenfreudalicious.

    http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/08/18/steve-bannon-out-white-house/




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  6. grumpy realist says:

    Talk is that Breitbart is declaring “total war!!!” against Trump.

    I don’t know whether to duck under the table or grab the popcorn. Probably both.




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  7. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Bannon’s now claiming he handed in his resignation letter ten days ago. Yeah, right.




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  8. Neil Hudelson says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Fairly soon he’ll be down to throwing out his own family members, and yes he absolutely will stoop that low.




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  9. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    If this story came from the NY Times then it must be FAKE NEWS!!!




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  10. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Did you see the Breitbart editor’s Tweet in response to the canning on Bannon?

    “#WAR!”

    To quote Flounder from Animal House, “Oh, boy, this is great!”




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  11. There are additions to the post to include news about Bannon’s future, the Breitbart situation, and what this means for the Administration, so check those out.




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  12. Joe says:

    Oompa. Loompa, Doopity doo. . . .




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  13. CSK says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I agree with you that nothing is going to change Trump, but what it might do is change the perception that at least some of the Trumpkins have of Trump. The comments over at Breitbart suggest strongly that they aren’t too pleased with Mangolini.

    If Trump loses even part of his base it will be significant. I look forward with interest to his next popularity poll.




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  14. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    Agreed. There is something about the prospect of seeing this smoldering anger within certain sections of the GOP turn into all-out internecine warfare that just makes me smile.




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  15. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Despite the fact that the mayor of Phoenix asked him to postpone his rally there on August 22, Trump is clearly going ahead with it. (I never saw that he even bothered to respond to the mayor’s request.)

    Clearly after this past week he needs to have a howling mob shower him with love and approbation. And the hell with the consequences.




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  16. grumpy realist says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Sorta shows why megalomaniac dictator types usually don’t hang around that long (modulo cough Mugabe cough)–their ids take over everywhere and they get rid of anyone who looks like a rival, no matter how similar said rival’s ideas are.

    Bannon could have been the Evil Genius behind Trump (which is what I think the Mercers were hoping for) but Trump has been furious that Bannon’s been tagged as the Alpha Male while he is the mouthpiece. If Trump had any brains, he’d realize that Bannon’s acting as conduit to the alt-right means that Trump has more power, but he’s in too much of an ego snit.




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  17. MarkedMan says:

    So – assuming Breitbart actually turns on Trump, what effect would that have? Trump’s base isn’t Brietbart or the Nazis, it’s Fox News watchers. Most people don’t use the internet much beyond Facebook. I suspect Brietbart’s importance is inflated because they are the ugly and corrosive side of political discourse. But Trump’s base (and most of the country in general) doesn’t engage in or are even aware of such discourse.




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  18. michael reynolds says:

    @grumpy realist:

    If Trump had any brains…

    The epitaph of the Trump regime.




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  19. teve tory says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Kind of like Lear but written by morons.

    The best description i’ve seen of this administration is “Like Game of Thrones but with the characters from Always Sunny”




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  20. James Pearce says:

    Earlier on Friday, the president had told senior aides that he had decided to remove Mr. Bannon, according to two administration officials briefed on the discussion. But a person close to Mr. Bannon insisted that the parting of ways was his idea, and that he had submitted his resignation to the president on Aug. 7, to be announced at the start of this week.

    Money on “Bannon resigned on Aug 7.” What’s the payout?




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  21. Mikey says:

    Hope Hicks, who has been at Trump’s side since his campaign started, took over as White House Communications Director

    All it takes is one look at Hope Hicks to understand why she ain’t going anywhere.




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  22. Kylopod says:

    @teve tory: I continue to think there are a lot of parallels between Trump and the character of Joffrey from Game of Thrones. First, Joffrey is a teenager (13 in the books, 17 on the show), and Trump has the temperament of an adolescent boy. Second, he’s a complete monster of a human being, a psychopathic bully who tortures and murders people for fun (well, okay, Trump isn’t quite that bad…yet), but he’s also a sniveling brat who has no idea how to run the kingdom, and in practice that task is left up to the people around him–his mother, his grandfather, his uncle, and his advisors. These grownups all keep up the pretense that he’s the one in charge, they act all deferential around him, but they’re constantly giving each other nods and glances because they know it’s all a farce. They’re all slightly afraid of him, because in theory he could have them all executed if he wanted to, and he has a habit of doing stupid and destructive things before they have a chance to stop him.

    This clip says it all (major Season 3 spoilers, for those who haven’t seen it):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQZ_37wOebI




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  23. CSK says:

    @Mikey:

    Better still, she’s young enough to be that old bag Melania’s daughter.




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  24. teve tory says:

    @Mikey: Rumor is, trump pays for her really expensive apt. Because REASONS.




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  25. teve tory says:

    Art of the Deal author tony schwartz says he expects trump to resign soon. who knows.




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  26. al-Ameda says:

    The Trump Administration is a really dark play on the Wizard of Oz.

    Pull the curtain aside and what you have is an overly emotional teenage boy acting out his deal-making businessman /slash/ president role.




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  27. Mikey says:

    @teve tory: I’m not sure if he does now–she gets paid about $180K, which is a pretty good living even by DC standards–but he did when she was working for the Trump Organization in New York.




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  28. dmhlt says:

    Sadly, the rot that goes to the core remains.




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  29. Stormy Dragon says:

    The timing makes it look like the final straw was Bannon calling the alt-right “clowns” yesterday. That’s right, what finally got him fired was not being racist enough for Trump.




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  30. teve tory says:

    WHOA if true:

    Gabriel Sherman ✔ @gabrielsherman
    Bannon friend says Breitbart ramping up for war against Trump. “It’s now a Democrat White House,” source says.
    1:14 PM – Aug 18, 2017
    1,191 1,191 Replies 5,448 5,448 Retweets 8,524 8,524 likes




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  31. Kylopod says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Bannon has in the past served as a kind of scapegoat anytime the White House goes full white nationalist. The Charlottesville controversy calls that theory into question. In the end, Bannon was probably more a symptom than a cause.




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  32. Franklin says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Oh, hilarious. And here’s one guy still trying to cheerlead: “Trump is always many chess moves ahead of the left, as is Bannon – don’t give up the ship just yet and get caught up in the day to day drama”

    Yup, way ahead of us. 3-D chess. Especially Bannon, who just managed to lose whatever power he might have had.




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  33. Tony W says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Trump’s base isn’t Brietbart or the Nazis, it’s Fox News watchers.

    Trump can’t afford to lose anybody, he barely eeked out an electoral college win – and he’s losing Congress by the day.




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  34. Hal_10000 says:

    This won’t cure the Trump Admin, but it is a good thing. If we can get Miller out, that means the three craziest people are gone. Trump is always subject to whomever has whispered in his ear last. This is one less rotten voice.

    The part in that CNN clip where she pauses to take a drink of water is darkly funny.




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  35. Daryl's other brother, Daryll says:

    Where are all the sycophants telling why this is a great thing?




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  36. CSK says:

    Breaking news is that Bannon had a nice dinner with the Mercers and is definitely back at Breitbart as head honcho.




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  37. MarkedMan says:

    @Tony W: Fair point




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  38. Daryl's other brother, Daryll says:

    Do you know about the OODA Loop?
    Look it up.
    If Trump was clever enough to apply that, this is what could happen:
    Orient:
    How can Donnie not know he’s fvcked?
    Observe:
    Everything he’s doing is failing.
    Decide:
    I’m gonna trust some other people.
    Act:
    He deletes his twitter account, never ever talks to the press again, and does exactly what the adults say. (Kelly, McMaster, etc.)
    Yeah…not gonna happen.




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  39. Jen says:

    All of this winning is f%^&$#g exhausting.




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  40. CSK says:

    @Jen:

    I’m so tired of winning, I can barely lift a finger to post.




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  41. JohnMcC says:

    Over at Wonkette some wag says that Mr Bannon’s next media move is going to be ‘”Dancing With the Stars’. Thought that was so funny I had to share.




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  42. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Neil Hudelson: It’s like visiting Bizarro world. Kyul!




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  43. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Jen: @CSK: Well, I know that I’ve had all the winning that I can take.




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  44. Tony W says:

    I have a theory that Trump still thinks he is on a show where he is required to fire somebody from his staff each week.




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  45. teve tory says:

    Looks like Bannon’s going back to Breitbart to support trump by attacking the Globalists, the pro-immigration people, and Trump’s congressional enemies.

    So the Fustercluck continues.

    I decided this morning that while it’s highly likely, I don’t want trump to resign. Pence would much more likely get Obamacare repeal through congress. Trump is a complete incompetent who wrecks Errthang.

    Trump is a good example of what a joke the idea that America is a meritocracy is. If you’re born poor, you can be perfect and still get nowhere, but if you’re born rich and white you can make every shit decision in the book and still come out on top.




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  46. teve tory says:
  47. Jen says:

    @teve tory: Oh good lord. That is just what this country needs (no, actually it is not).




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