As part of an ongoing internal power struggle, Donald Trump’s White House has been looking to oust Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka for weeks. Now that Trump’s Nazi and white supremacist supporters have carried out a deadly terrorist attack, there’s increasing pressure for Trump to dump notorious racists Bannon and Gorka. Some on the left have worried that Trump could make himself look good by firing them both in the wake of Charlottesville. But it doesn’t work that way.
The ongoing internal effort to oust Bannon and Gorka has had nothing to do with Bannon’s confirmed history of running the white supremacist website Breitbart, or with Gorka’s alleged history as a sworn member of a Nazi group in his native Hungary, or the fact that they’ve both actively pushed racist policies during the Trump administration. New Chief of Staff John Kelly is simply trying to get rid of all of the loose cannons and people whose job duties are poorly defined. It’s just coincidence that these two racists are already on the verge of losing their jobs at a time when Trump is suddenly facing immense external pressure to dump them for being racists.
But let’s say Trump does fire Bannon and Gorka this week. What does he gain? By parting ways with them in the wake of Charlotte, he would be acknowledging that he’s allowed these two racists to roam free in the White House all this time, in top positions no less. There is no one in America who would say to themselves “I was anti-Trump because I don’t like racism, but now that he’s fired the two racists that have been running the White House for the past eight months, I guess I’m now pro-Trump.” In other words, he’s knowingly kept these guys in their positions for so long that he can’t just wash it off.
Worse for Donald Trump, if he now fires Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, the racists among his base will take it as a sign that he’s selling them out entirely. Trump was going to have a hard enough time with his base if he fired these two guys out of the blue. But if he now fires them in the wake of a terrorist attack by Nazis and white supremacists, his base will take it even harder. So strategically speaking, there’s nothing here for Trump to gain, and plenty to lose.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report