Priebus and Bannon: The Odd Couple

Jim Stinson,

It’s hard to describe the White House duo of Reince Priebus, the president’s chief of staff, and Steve Bannon, the president’s chief political adviser.

They both work in the same office suite in the West Wing.

It’s not so much an odd couple. For now, at least, it appears to be a dynamic duo.

They both worked diligently to elect Donald Trump to the White House and are today arguably the two most important figures determining how to implement the Trump agenda.

It’s that last part that has media and pundits’ heads scratching. On policy and style, the two Republican men don’t seem at all alike. Yet, especially after their Thursday afternoon appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference, they seem to be a complementary odd couple.

Bannon is Oscar. He came out in his trademark look: no tie, with a jacket.

preibusbannon_small Priebus and Bannon: The Odd Couple Politics

He’s also no country club Republican. Bannon, the former chairman of Breitbart News, is the disrupter.

He deliberately sought, through the 2016 GOP presidential primaries, to keep the Republican electorate focused on a more populist approach to key issues: tight borders, the cancellation of multilateral trade deals, and priority given to American jobs and employers.

Sitting next to Bannon, Priebus, the former Republican National Committee chairman, was well-dressed — as usual — wearing a nice tie and looking like a young College Republican.

Like Felix from “The Odd Couple,” he was polite and often praised his White House peer. There was no sign of tension, as the mainstream media often seems to hope for.

Bannon and Priebus represent a fusion of Republican factions the Democrats did not think would happen in 2016. The fusion, forced by Trump when he hired Bannon as his campaign CEO last summer, made all the factions work together.

Priebus suggested he was not at all phased by the letting in of the populist faction.

Priebus said when the GOP and the conservative movement unite, “It can’t be stopped.”

Both Priebus and Bannon made a point of deriding media coverage of the campaign, the transition and the young administration. Bannon made a point of repeating to the crowd at CPAC his name for the mainstream media: “the Opposition Party.”

In the old days, the more staid Republicans in the fancy suits would be nervous at such attacks on the press. Priebus seems to realize it is a new day, and the president has opened the “country club” to the caddies too.

It’s not so much an odd couple. For now, at least, it appears to be a dynamic duo.