President Donald Trump’s top adviser, Steve Bannon, is out of the White House. The departure is welcome; his corrosive influence and association with white nationalists represents some of the worst elements in politics.
That said, it would be unwise to consider this anything more than just a small step in the right direction.
Bannon is the latest in a string of staffers leaving the Trump White House, which is still only seven months old. His ouster follows by a couple of weeks that of communications director Anthony Scaramucci, after 10 days on the job. Also gone in July: chief of staff Reince Priebus, press secretary Sean Spicer, and Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub. And the list goes on and on.
While the addition of John Kelly as chief of staff — and H.R. McMaster before him as national security adviser — may have played a stabilizing role on White House staff, nothing we’ve seen so far convinces us that much will change. Why? The real problem is President Donald Trump.
In just the last few weeks, Trump managed to shame Attorney General Jeff Sessions publicly; tweet a transgender military ban without informing the military; and politicize a speech to Boy Scouts and then lie about a phone call from a Boy Scout leader. He made up a phone conversation with the president of Mexico over border protection. He “joked” about Vladimir Putin kicking 750 diplomats out of Russia. He waited days to sign an overwhelming bipartisan Russian sanctions bill and then complained Congress made him sign it. He “joked” about cops roughing up suspects. He threatened a possible nuclear war with North Korea.
And all of that was before his offensive responses to the events in Charlottesville.
The list is wearying. And ongoing.
Bannon certainly had his hands on some of Trump’s most controversial policy proposals, from immigration to military intervention around the world.
But it defies reality to think the country can rest easy now that Bannon is out of the White House.