The only player in Washington whose mouth approached the size of U.S. President Donald Trump's was that of Republican renegade Steve Bannon.
The headline hunter has opened it one too many times, portraying Mr. Trump in a coming book as two shades short of a buffoon. The upshot will see Mr. Bannon recede to the margins where his bigoted nativist agenda belongs.
Among those not lamenting the relegation will be the Canadian government. Mr. Bannon brandished the protectionist banner in Washington, pushing Mr. Trump to the point last spring where he came within a hair of pulling out of NAFTA, the continental trade agreement.
He was leading – until now – a guerrilla-warfare campaign against a Republican Party establishment that favoured a more globalist, traditional approach, one that Ottawa certainly prefers.
The Bannon quotes in the book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff, not only belittle Mr. Trump but also accuse son-in-law Jared Kushner of "treasonous" behaviour in meeting during the election campaign with Russian emissaries who reportedly had dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Not stopping there, loose-cannon Bannon also describes Ivanka Trump, the President's daughter, as being "dumb as a brick."
A lit-up Mr. Trump responded furiously, saying Mr. Bannon had "lost his mind." But what he has really lost is his influence not just with the President but with the Republican Party.
"Time for Bannon to disappear or find work in a circus," Representative Peter King of New York wrote on Twitter, reflecting the view of many Republicans. For the fall's midterm elections, the Bannon brigade had been trying to organize a slate of rebel GOP candidates pushing an anti-immigrant, anti-trade, white-nationalist agenda.
But with his fulminations in the book, the Cro-Magnon conservative has taken his disloyalty too far. Though the revelations certainly spell more trouble for Mr. Trump, the more important effect is likely a restoration of unity to the Republican Party.
GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan had had it up to the teeth with the Bannon brigade. As a result of his prominence, they had to work with a President who had divided loyalties – the Bannonites one day, them the next.
Mr. Trump was so outraged by the book's contents that his legal team began exploring ways to stop its publication. While Mr. Trump can flip the switch quickly on his likes and dislikes, there is little chance of his former campaign manager finding his way back into his good graces. With the President being more under the wing of GOP traditionalists, the chances of NAFTA's survival are enhanced. Mr. Trump would face intense opposition on Capitol Hill were he to jettison the accord with the midterm elections around the corner. The fact that the economy and the stock market are performing well decreases any appetite for such a jolting change to the status quo.
In the rumpled, salty-tongued, destabilizing Bannon, Mr. Trump had an operative who played to his worst instincts. Pressure for the President to cut ties with him had increased after his support for losing candidate Roy Moore, the alleged teenage-girl predator, in the recent Alabama Senate race. Mr. Trump supported Mr. Moore as well, though with reluctance.
For Fire and Fury, the White House inexplicably gave Mr. Wolff, the controversial British journalist, broad access to the White House. His book is not only meeting criticism from Trump circles but from other journalists as well. For instance, he portrays Mr. Trump as not having heard of former House Speaker John Boehner. But Mr. Trump had been in touch with Mr. Boehner and spoken to him frequently over the years.
When news of the book broke, the Trump White House was coming off its first big policy victory, the passage of a sweeping tax-cut bill. There was some favourable movement in opinion polls. Mr. Trump was reportedly happy.
But it didn't lead to him refraining from his provocative ways. He fired off 16 tweets on Tuesday, many of them incendiary, one of them comparing his own big nuclear button with that of the North Korean leader's little one.
The politics of disruption would have continued in this town with or without Steve Bannon's loose cannon. But with him all but excommunicated, the Republican Party can finally start speaking with one voice. Or at least have a better shot at it.