Trump v. Bannon: Big Dog, Fire Hydrants, And Male Egos

Trump v. Bannon: Big Dog, Fire Hydrants, And Male Egos


Leonard Zwelling

There may be nothing as fragile or as lethal as the male ego. If that is true, Donald Trump and Steve Bannon may be exhibits one and two. Now their poorly hidden enmity has broken out across the fruited plain. And this can be juxtaposed with Trump’s feud with Kim Jun-Un, the poorly coiffed leader of North Korea with whom he is now comparing sizes of their respective nuclear buttons. The metaphors are both obvious and depressing.

Starting with Mr. Bannon and his widely quoted disdain (now apologizing?) for President Trump and his family in a just published book called Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff, there is now a jostling for position on the alt-right for who really speaks for Trump’s base. It seems that the GOP has given birth to yet another scion off Lincoln’s tree along with the mainline Republicans (a dying breed), the Freedom Caucus (erstwhile the Tea Party), and the Trumpees (his 30% core of support), we now have the Breitbarts led by Bannon who rival Trump’s people for who can be the most outrageous. For now it consists mostly of name calling, but soon they will likely be squaring off in GOP primaries for Senate and House seats across the country and how this turns out may well determine whether it is Mr. Trump or Mr. Bannon or neither who really holds the influence in the Republican Party.

But the bigger question is what exactly Steve Bannon will say under oath when questioned by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. Does he know something that could bring down the president? Time will tell, but surely these two fragile males will be going after one another for some time to come even if Mr. Bannon doesn’t have a nuclear button.

As for the young one avec button in North Korea, Mr. Trump is doing everything to goad him into making a mistake and the Young Un is doing everything to make sure that he doesn’t do that. Un is no more likely to launch a missile attack than is Trump. What Un is really doing, and doing it with some skill, is inserting a wedge between the US and South Korea, the US and China and the US and Russia, all of which has been helped by President Trump’s ill-advised departure from the Paris Climate Accords and the Pan-Pacific Trade Pact. These are clear openings for our enemies to rush into the vacuum created by Trump’s exit from these key international agreements.

In every way, Mr. Trump makes it easy for his enemies to flourish. It seems he likes it that way. He acts as if he fears their leaving the stage and giving him nothing or no one to combat.

In Mr. Bannon and Mr. Un, President Trump has two worthy adversaries. They are both as corrupt as Trump himself is. Unfortunately for Mr. Trump, and for us as Americans, both Bannon and Un may be smarter than the president or his family members.

During my Robert Wood Johnson Foundation fellowship orientation, we fellows were taught “never to get between a big dog and a fire hydrant.” Our mentor was telling us to stay away from political battles between senators and members of any inspector general’s office. We were not to insert ourselves in legislative-executive branch squabbles.

Here the fights are across ideological lines and international borders. But they are really just between male egos. The female dogs don’t need the fire hydrant.

Thanks, but I’ll sit these fights out. No good will come of this. Below is a good excerpt from the book:

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