I can't say I enjoyed watching Steve Bannon grovel for Donald Trump's forgiveness. But I'll admit to a moment of schadenfreude as the man who not yet a year ago made the cover of Time magazine as "the great manipulator" was reduced to publicly sucking up to his once useful idiot.
The Big-Mac-eater-in-chief was having none of Sloppy Steve's attempts to make up for violating Machiavelli's first rule for advisers to the Prince: Stay out of the limelight and don't dish dirt to make yourself look good and your boss look even dumber than he already is.
Mr. Bannon had already been on the outs with his former Prince for taking all the credit for the latter's improbable and regrettable election victory. Jarvanka, as the married couple of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are collectively referred to in some circles, never could stand the sight of the dishevelled Mr. Bannon, much less the influence he had over Ms. Trump's father. Jarvanka helped engineer Mr. Bannon's August ouster from his White House job.
Skeptical readers of gossip columnist Michael Wolff's extended gossip column known as Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House have noticed that the author runs out of fly-on-the-wall gossip somewhere last summer, or just before Mr. Bannon's exit from the West Wing. This has led some Beltway observers to dismiss the book as an alternative-fact-based account of the Trump administration's first six months as seen through the eyes of an embittered Mr. Bannon.
It was bad enough that Mr. Bannon had already been accused by White House insiders of leaking details to the media of his clashes with administration officials, usually to make them and their boss look inept, which admittedly was probably not very hard. But it is the on-the-record quotes Mr. Wolff attributes to Mr. Bannon that really led to the catfight Politico has described as "perhaps the most vicious falling out between a president and a former aide in modern history."
According to the book, Mr. Bannon labels as "treasonous" Donald Trump Jr.'s 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer, hints at his former boss's cluelessness by saying Mr. Trump "gets what he gets" and calls first daughter Ivanka "dumb as a brick." This trifecta of insults on the genus Trump prompted pater's tweet claiming himself a "stable genius," proving that perhaps not everything in Mr. Wolff's book was made up by the author.
"Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind," Mr. Trump said in a longer-than-280-character official statement. "Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was. It is the only thing he does well."
Since Mr. Trump has always emerged the winner from his previous broken marriages, there was never any doubt who would end out on top once his bromance with Mr. Bannon turned sour. Mr. Bannon should have realized this before he opened his trap to Mr. Wolff. But Mr. Bannon has an ego only second in size to that of his former boss'.
He tried to make up for his Judas-like betrayal with a contrite statement calling Don Jr. a "patriot and a good man." He said his "treasonous" jab had been aimed at former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and added, sycophantically: "I remain ready to stand in the breach for this President's efforts to make America great again."
Mr. Trump, still smarting, or perhaps eating, pretended not to notice.
Now, Mr. Bannon has been cut off by the rich Republican donors on whom he was counting to bankroll his bid to unseat establishment GOP senators in the fall midterm elections, starting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. And he has lost his job as executive chairman at Breitbart News, the right-wing news site he had returned to running after leaving the White House. He has become a one-man leper colony in a town where shaking hands is everything.
"Bannon was shot on the South Lawn and run over by a tank and the President shifted in gear and ran over him again," Republican strategist Ed Rollins told Politico. "I've never seen anybody blown up like he was."
It couldn't have happened to an un-nicer guy.