Before we all cheer ourselves hoarse over the departure of far-right provocateur Stephen Bannon from the White House, I’d like to offer a not-so-subtle reminder.
Donald John Trump Sr. is still the president of the United States.
Make no mistake: I am delighted to see Bannon shown the door. Chief of staff John Kelly stepped up and did his job with authority and a bit of panache.
However, as we’ve all been reminded so painfully for the entire length of the Trump administration, the president calls the shots; everything happens or doesn’t happen because of the Man in the Oval Office.
Gen. Kelly is able to whip the White House staff into shape. He cannot whip the Big Man into similar shape. He cannot persuade Trump to control his Twitter impulse. He cannot get the president to keep his mouth shut when he meets with reporters, which was astonishingly evident this week in that jaw-dropping press encounter at Trump Tower.
Bannon’s “alt-right” point of view is gone from the White House. Does any of this mean that the West Wing’s newfound professionalism is going to find its way to the Oval Office? Does it mean that the president will start cracking the books and start learning about the executive branch of government over which he now presides? Does it mean he’s going to actually read the U.S. Constitution and come to grips with what it says about how governing is a team sport, with Congress and the courts also playing a role?
You know the likely answer to all of that. It ain’t likely to happen. None of it. We’ll still have an out-of-control president who has managed to alienate himself from damn near every key player on Capitol Hill.
Oh, and remember? This is just Day 211 of Donald J. Trump’s term as president.