One way of looking at the departures of Steve Bannon and Seb Gorka, The Mooch’s brief and wondrous reign as communications director, and the ascension of John Kelly was that they cumulatively represented the triumph of the more conventional voices in Trump’s inner circle—that the globalists had ultimately prevailed, even if they had paid a dear price in the process. “Trump has lost both the agitators for radical action to match radical words (Bannon, Mooch), and his enablers (Priebus),” Mike Allen wrote shortly after Bannon’s departure. “He will still talk to them, but power always shrinks on the outside. He’s left surrounded by the architects of The Conventional.”
But in the wake of Charlottesville and Friday’s incredibly shady pardon of the unusually racist (even by American standards) Joe Arpaio, the more accurate narrative may be that Trump is increasingly isolated. Over the last few days, arch-conventionalists Gary Cohn and Rex Tillerson have distanced themselves from Trump—and may be heading out the door themselves. On Friday, Cohn told the Financial Times that the administration “must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups,” meaning neo-Nazis. And on Sunday, Tillerson distanced the entire country from the president, telling Fox News’s Chris Wallace that Trump “speaks for himself” when he discusses hate groups, implying that his failure to condemn white supremacists was not an American value.
Unsurprisingly, given Trump’s obsession with loyalty, there are rumors that both may be on their way out. On Sunday, Axios’s Jonathan Swan reported that Trump is becoming fed up with Tillerson, having said, “Rex just doesn’t get it, he’s totally establishment in his thinking.” Tillerson has never seemed to be particularly happy or comfortable as secretary of state. But his departure, coming as it does after the departures of Bannon and Priebus and Mooch and Flynn and Gorka and Spicer, would be yet another sign of Trump’s isolation and the failure of anyone, regardless of their globalist or alt-right credentials, to reach him.