Petri: What is a Steve Bannon, anyway?
WASHINGTON – Friends, I regret to say, I still remember Steve Bannon. This is, I am sure, a glitch.
I do not think I made him up. I could swear that, for a while, he was President Trump's chief strategist. Trump has issued a statement to say that he was "a staffer" who worked for him "after I had already won the nomination," which is, I guess, a way of describing your chief strategist, a person you put on the National Security Council, whose picture even appeared on the cover of Time magazine.
I am writing this in case anyone else remembers. I could swear he was a significant figure. He was always talking to the media, and other people talked about him, too. Anthony Scaramucci (also a real person, I think) said that he possessed a, er, flexibility and self-regard that most human beings lack. Would I have made that up? That seems like a mental image I wouldn't choose to have. Similarly, if I were making someone up, I would have made him look more like Oscar Isaac.
I looked at "Saturday Night Live," but they just had a man in a Grim Reaper suit, which seems like a weird choice and gave me no clues as to whether the physical form I remember Bannon possessing is the right one. It can't be.
No, I am starting to doubt. On Wednesday, news broke that he had given a quote to Michael Wolff calling the meeting in Trump Tower with ostensibly dirt-bearing Russians "treasonous" and insisting that soon, on television, Donald Trump Jr. would be cracked open like an egg.
So now he is vanishing. We are learning that Steve Bannon was a nobody, just like Paul Manafort and What's His Name before him. The Trump White House was apparently staffed entirely by invisible men, nobodies and people who may have gotten coffee one or two times. The campaign was a ghost ship, manned by no human hand, that drifted into port with Trump strapped to the mast. There was no discernible strategy, just a roving cloud of nepotism, dog whistles and a few loose bats. Why bother with a chief strategist?
Trump boasted that he would surround himself with the best people, and he made Steve Bannon his chief strategist? Steve Bannon, who ran Breitbart, the alt-right platform. The Steve Bannon I remember was given to pronouncements like "Darkness is good" and "I am Thomas Cromwell in the court of the Tudors." They thought this Steve Bannon was a man with the strategic capacity to play 18-dimensional chess and give six interviews a day.
This does sound made-up, to be quite frank with you. I am starting to doubt my own mental capacity.
Then again, Trump put Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, in charge of the Middle East, a fact I think is still true, so who knows!
Disappearances like Bannon's happen regularly. One morning, you are the president's chief confidant and blood brother. The next, it turns out that you were just a low-level staffer. Then it turns out that you didn't even go there. You wake up one morning and your fingers are gone. Then your torso starts to fade away. Soon your screaming voice is only audible to AM radio listeners and the occasional Fox News viewer in that frozen moment after the channel has changed.
But I still remember some of them. Manafort. Flynn. Bannon. I could swear that they were real, and in charge of things, and everyone was very worried about it.
Probably someone is just fiddling with the timeline, trying to fix it. Maybe what I remember is a past that no longer exists. Maybe this is why people disappear from the White House memory at a rate previously reserved for Soviet official portraits or boardrooms on the Death Star.
If whatever traveler is doing this takes the whole presidency, then, go in peace. I would gladly forget Steve Bannon. I would gladly forget all of this.