In his latest New York Times columnist Frank Bruni explains how the media manipulated White House strategist Steve Bannon’s image to drive a wedge between him and President Trump. [From Bruni’s New York Times column titled “Steve Bannon Was Doomed”: If you’re any student of politics, you saw Steve Bannon on the cover of Time magazine in early February — “The Great Manipulator,” it called him — and knew to start the countdown then. Dead strategist walking.
He’d crossed the line that a politician’s advisers mustn’t, to a place and prominence where only the most foolish of them tread. Or at best he’d failed to prevent the media from tugging him there. He was fine so long as he was a whisperer.
On the campaign trail and on the Potomac, you can whisper all you want. He was damned the moment he was cast as a puppeteer. That means there’s a puppet in the equation, and no politician is going to accept that designation, least of all one who stamps his name in gold on anything that stands still long enough to be stamped.
Or whose debate performance included the repartee: “No puppet, no puppet. You’re the puppet. ” … Politics is a tricky business, Washington is a treacherous place and Trumplandia is downright brutal.
In all three realms, you have to strike the right balance of and . The media’s no help: We love few archetypes better than that of the brilliant mastermind who’s the real power behind the throne. But the savviest operators find ways to resist that assignment, deflecting as much credit as they claim.