Life can be pretty bleak under President Donald Trump, and you have to take your good news where you can get it. Increasingly, that means reveling in secondhand reports about the utter disarray of his administration, whether it’s the news that his wife might hate him or the utter ineptitude of his cronies like Sean Spicer. The latest bit of life-sustaining schadenfreude comes in a new report from the Daily Beast, which alleges that the president’s two closest advisors are practically at each other’s throats.
The Beast’s headline pretty much says it all: “Steve Bannon Calls Jared Kushner a ‘Cuck’ and ‘Globalist’ Behind His Back.” If the image of a white nationalist with a moldy baseball mitt for a face sputtering insults at a fresh-faced colleague behind closed doors at the White House late at night is enough to put a smile on your face for the rest of the day, feel free to stop reading after this excerpt:
The fighting between Kushner and Bannon has been “nonstop” in recent weeks, according to sources who spoke on condition of anonymity. It’s been an “open secret” that Bannon and Kushner often clash “face-to-face,” according to senior officials.
One official said Bannon has lately complained about Kushner trying to “shiv him and push him out the door” and likened him to a fifth column in the White House.
“[Steve] recently vented to us about Jared being a ‘globalist’ and a ‘cuck’…He actually said ‘cuck,’ as in “cuckservative,’” the administration official told The Daily Beast.
If you’re still with us, a little background on the conflict: Bannon is the former Breitbart executive whose role as the president’s chief strategist generally involves encouraging his most grotesque impulses. Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, is the well-heeled son of a New York City real estate magnate who was a lifelong supporter of and donor to Democratic politicians before joining the administration. Kushner is Jewish, and at Breitbart, Bannon peddled a vision of nationalism that frequently veered toward anti-Semitism and racism. It’s easy to see why the two wouldn’t get along.
The tension between the two is probably reflective of a larger split between the far-right populist ideologue element in Trump’s White House, led by Bannon, and those advisors who are attempting to steer him toward something like Republican orthodoxy, led by Reince Preibus. Together with his wife Ivanka Trump, Kushner is sort of his own independent power axis in this arrangement, but you’d imagine that if he had to pick sides, he’d go with Preibus. And it looks like Bannon’s team is rapidly losing ground: the Muslim ban and ACA repeal, two policies championed by Bannon, have both crashed and burned so far, and Bannon himself was recently removed from his spot on the National Security Council.
Whenever stories like these come out, sourced to anonymous officials, it’s useful to consider who is leaking the gossip to reporters, and why they might be leaking it. If had to guess, I’d say that the Beast’s senior officials are Priebus-Kushnerites, spilling the beans to make Bannon look like even more of a vindictive egomaniac while he’s still smarting from the NSC news. According to the sources, Bannon said Kushner is trying to “shiv him and push him out the door.” He might be right.