By Kevin Bailey
The smell of sulphur (or at least flatulence) preceded Steve Bannon into the room. He had called this evening meeting to update key staffers on progress relating to his attempted reboot of the Muslim Ban–though that, of course, is not what the White House calls it. What he had not planned on was how poorly his meal from earlier in the day would settle in his ample gut.
Those sitting near him as he spoke hardly dared breathe. The malodorous miasma seemed to be emanating “from both ends”, a junior staffer told TP later that evening. Bannon seemed oblivious to both his own fetid odor, as well as its effect on those around him. Apparently, Bannon held court for around a half hour, in something of a stream-0f-consciousness monologue, which those who have heard him speak on the radio would recognize.
Once his monologue reached its denouement, Bannon opened up the meeting for any questions. Those in the room had been basically “sipping” each breath for the entire half hour, and were fairly desperate to leave the room. No one is quite sure if Bannon actually did not realize how much his… “odor” was affecting everyone, or if he simply didn’t care. Either way, from what TP was told, Bannon was not happy that no one was speaking up with any praise, or even questions, about his monologue. After a few more “breathtaking” moments, he finally set them free, and everyone tried to hurry out without seeming to hurry out. (My mind’s eye envisions serious men, sort of side-slinking away from Bannon, while breathing entirely through their mouths, and even then only in quick “sips.”)
From what TP was told, the air was so thick with the vile stench during the meeting, that some who were there nearly got sick, and some wondered if there might actually be something seriously wrong with Bannon. Another said something to the effect that he had never smelled anything like that, and wondered “what crawled up his butt and died.” The staffer who told TP about it claimed he nearly threw up in his mouth several times during the thirty minutes, with his gag reflex in full effect.
These last several weeks, there has not been much worth laughing about, but that story made TP (and me) laugh. While TP does somewhat support the “Travel Ban” (for reasons passing comprehension for me–but I digress), Bannon is viewed, by both staff in general, and TP in particular, with deep revulsion. The staff had learned to fear him, but that flatulent impromptu staff meeting has taken the edge off of that fear to some extent, ameliorating it with a decent amount of derision. That meeting gave TP one of only a few mirthful moments in the sea of chaos and fear that the Trump Administration has descended into, as I reported on in my previous “Dispatches” column from Saturday evening.
It seems, in the Age of Trump, we have to be thankful for small blessings–and for the flatulence of Steve Bannon!