Frank Bruni writes: 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.”
“I’m my own strategist,” the president told The New York Post early last week, and the message to Bannon couldn’t have been louder and clearer if it included a four-letter word. [Continue reading…]