Republicans alarmed and ‘taken aback’ at White House’s flaccid response to Bannon threats: report
In a Washington Post story about the departure of White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon and his return to the “alt-right” web platform Breitbart.com on Saturday, political reporters Robert Costa and John Wagner noted that some Republicans are alarmed at the White House’s passivity in the face of a series of threats laid out by Bannon.
“On Friday,” the Post recounted, “a flurry of bravado-filled interviews with Bannon appeared on various websites, including one in which he said he felt as if ‘I’ve got my hands back on my weapons’ and was prepared to ‘crush the opposition.’”
While some pundits people joked that Bannon’s statements were “literally what cocaine would say” and that the ousted strategist is actually “275 lbs of pure Bolivian flake stuffed into a liver-spotted sausage casing,” others found genuine cause for alarm in the idea of Bannon and Breitbart launching regular broadsides against Republicans in Congress and the White House.
Prior to his joining the Trump campaign in 2016, Bannon spent the bulk of his time firing up the base against any “establishment Republicans” deemed to be insufficiently ideologically pure.
“Advisers to senior congressional Republicans were taken aback that none of the combative language was countered by the White House,” said the Post.
“They just sat out there,” said one Republican staffer. “That told me everything about whether the White House actually cares about making clear it’s on our side.”
Instead of firing back, on Saturday Trump meekly thanked Bannon “for his service” in an awkward Twitter farewell message.
The departures of former RNC officials Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus have meant that Congressional Republicans and party stalwarts no longer have a direct line of communication with the White House. This has left legislators and staff stymied as to exactly who in the administration is left who shares their values and “understands the language of Republicans.”
A complaisant White House means one less barrier between vulnerable Republicans and a base weaponized by Breitbart.com’s heated anti-establishment rhetoric and relentless smear campaigns.
However, Breitbart may not be the unstoppable juggernaut that it was even 4 months ago. After a slew of controversies and an effective boycott campaign, the website has lost 90 percent of its advertisers. Readership has fallen off sharply since the election and now the website is inextricably associated with the deadly violence that the “alt-right” unleashed on Charlottesville, VA last weekend.
So there is a chance that Bannon’s tough talk on Friday night was the same sort of empty bluster as his “accidentally” on-the-record interview with the American Prospect in which he trashed colleagues and crowed triumphantly about the fellow White House officials he was going to fire.
“I’m changing out people at East Asian Defense; I’m getting hawks in. I’m getting Susan Thornton [acting head of East Asian and Pacific Affairs] out at State,” Bannon boasted.
Now, Bannon is fired from the White House and so far as Raw Story knows, all of the personnel he threatened will be at their desks on Monday.