Donald Trump yesterday announced his senior leadership after inauguration. RNC Chair Reince Priebus will be the new White House Chief of Staff and Steven Bannon, his campaign CEO who is on hiatus as executive chairman of Breitbart News, will be his chief strategist and senior counselor. They are co-leaders meaning they both report directly to Donald Trump.
I haven’t followed inside White House politics so much to know if it is normal to have White House staff who is not accountable to the Chief of Staff.
“I am thrilled to have my very successful team continue with me in leading our country,” President-elect Donald Trump said in a released statement. “Steve and Reince are highly qualified leaders who worked well together on our campaign and led us to a historic victory. Now I will have them both with me in the White House as we work to make America great again.”
“I want to thank President-elect Trump for the opportunity to work with Reince in driving the agenda of the Trump Administration,” noted Bannon. “We had a very successful partnership on the campaign, one that led to victory. We will have that same partnership in working to help President-elect Trump achieve his agenda.”
“It is truly an honor to join President-elect Trump in the White House as his Chief of Staff,” added Priebus. “I am very grateful to the President-elect for this opportunity to serve him and this nation as we work to create an economy that works for everyone, secure our borders, repeal and replace Obamacare and destroy radical Islamic terrorism. He will be a great President for all Americans.”
I’m not exactly sure what to make of Reince Preibus as chief of staff. He wasn’t the guy I was expecting to get that role. I thought that Kellyanne Conway would have been tapped. I thought it was possible Bannon would have been given that role. This certainly takes the shine off of any message that Trump is somehow anti-establishment.
I’m not a Reince fan for various reasons, but Trump certainly could have picked someone worse. The good news is that the Republican National Committee will have a new chair.
Steven Bannon as the chief strategist and senior counselor will continue to have Trump’s ear. I expressed reservations about his involvement with Trump’s campaign and I was obviously wrong about that. He had to be competent in that role because, well, they won.
I wrote then:
Bannon has an impressive resume prior to becoming the executive editor of Breitbart News. He holds a Masters in National Security Studies from Georgetown University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Prior to joining Breitbart News, Bannon was an officer in the U.S. Navy and also owned an investment bank that he sold to Societe Generale.
One thing that is lacking however is campaign experience. I’ve known Steve Bannon, professionally, for a number of years. We met when he made the documentary The Undefeated that featured Sarah Palin. I’ve also been on his radio program he launched as part of Brietbart that is heard on the Patriot channel on Sirius XM radio.
Bannon has unfortunately led the charge at Breitbart from being a noteworthy conservative news source to what many of us now refer to as “Trumpbart” which has become nothing more than a propaganda tool for Donald Trump and the “Alt-Right.”
He is a smart guy, of that I have no doubt. He has been called a white nationalist. He has been likened to David Duke. The left is having a general freakout about Bannon’s appointment. Let’s not forget all of the radicals that were part of the Obama White House. We survived eight years of that, and we’ll survive four or eight years of Donald Trump.
I think there is cause for concern, but much of the hyperbole on the left I think is misguided. For starters while he has been accused of making anti-Semitic remarks by his ex-wife (during divorce proceedings) there hasn’t been any evidence beyond that to suggest he actually is.
The same can be said about Donald Trump. What they have allowed is white nationalists to enter their orbit, but much of the nationalism promoted by Breitbart and the Trump campaign has been in response to the globalist agenda of President Obama and not overtly racist. In my opinion it is an overreaction and has been welcoming to the wrong kinds of people, but I don’t think the intent is to institutionalize racism.
Breitbart under Bannon’s leadership gave the Alt-Right nationalist movement a voice. There is no doubt about that, and there is reason to be concerned by Bannon’s involvement in the White House because of it.
Elections have consequences however, and if anybody thought Trump was going to abandon those who helped bring him to the White House is living in fantasy land. Unfortunately for his critics White House staff does not require confirmation. So all of this hand wringing will have little to no effect.
So like I’ve said with Donald Trump, we’ll have to wait and see what Preibus and Bannon do in their new roles actually governing because it is something neither of them has done before. Anyway, the new President-elect has the right to appoint whomever he wants to these roles and frankly we’ll likely have bigger fights than these coming up.