The departure of Steve Bannon, the White House’s far-right chief strategist, marks the culmination of a disastrous week for Donald Trump that has intensified speculation about how long he can survive as US president. Whether Bannon was sacked, resigned or left by mutual agreement – as usual with the Trump administration there are contradictory accounts – is immaterial. His exit, stage right, follows that of a clutch of other senior White House aides and reinforces the impression that his presidency is unravelling chaotically only seven months after he entered the Oval Office.
Trump has only himself to blame. His staff problems are self-inflicted, the product of his poor judgment and bad choices. And it was this same mix of incompetence, arrogance and ignorance that led Trump earlier in the week into the biggest political train-crash of his unedifying career: his indefensible attempts to excuse the white supremacists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan sympathisers who sparked last weekend’s fatal violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
One would have thought that even Trump, despite all his hubris and egotism, would know better than to jump feet first into America’s most sensitive issue: racial division. But he simply could not stop himself. When challenged about his apportioning of equal blame to “both sides” in Charlottesville, Trump let the mask slip. Some of the white supremacists were “fine people” and the violence, which left an anti-racism protester dead, was not entirely their fault, he claimed. Then, in an impromptu defence of the confederacy, this lineal successor of Abraham Lincoln…
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