Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Axios on your phone

Get breaking news and scoops on the go with the Axios app.

Download for free.

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Evan Vucci / AP

Over the past three months, Steve Bannon has been reading David Halberstam's book, "The Best and the Brightest." (A NYT reporter spotted him with the book in an airport in December.)

It's a devastating account of self-regard, delusion, and the tragic series of miscalculations that led America into Vietnam. The book shaped Bannon's thinking during the transition, and he recommended it to associates, including Jared Kushner and Anthony Scaramucci, as a warning against hubris.

He's told associates the book is a warning to "always keep the 'law of unintended consequences' in the front of your mind." And that "the governmental 'apparatus' has an institutional history, memory and methodology."

Re-read "The Best and the Brightest" and you'll get a sharper understanding of the biases from Trump's chief strategist, and how he processes the world:

  1. Halberstam holds in contempt the highly educated, verbally sophisticated elites — JFK's band of brilliant young men — making decisions in Washington.
  2. The author flatters hard-won experience — "true wisdom" — over intellectual theorizing.
  3. He critiques Washington's compliant press corps.
  4. He reinforces Bannon's belief that "personnel is policy" and that the very act of selecting a cabinet can lock in an administration.

If you have time for just one passage to mind meld with Bannon, make it this one:

"One of the things which surprised me was how thin most of the newspaper and magazine reporting of the period was, the degree to which journalists accepted the norms of government and, particularly in the glamorous Kennedy era, the reputation of these new stars at face value. Credit was given more readily for educational prowess and for academic achievement than for accomplishment in governance...Being verbal seemed to be an end in itself. Among those dazzled by the Administration team was Vice-President Lyndon Johnson. After attending the first Cabinet meeting he went back to his mentor Sam Rayburn and told him with great enthusiasm how extraordinary they were, each brighter than the next... "Well Lyndon," Mister Sam answered, "you may be right and they may be every bit as intelligent as you say, but I'd feel a whole lot better about them if just one of them had run for sheriff once." It is my favorite story in the book, for it underlines the weakness of the Kennedy team, the difference between intelligence and wisdom, between the abstract quickness and verbal facility which the team exuded, and true wisdom, which is the product of hard-win, often bitter experience. Wisdom for a few of them came after Vietnam."

Why this matters: Republicans in Washington are scrambling to understand Trump's chief strategist. Some are strategizing ways to shape his thinking, including using the language of populist nationalism to steer him towards mainstream party thinking.

First, they'll discover there are limits to Bannon's power (evidence: Trump delaying on DACA — President Obama's legal protection of the children of illegal immigrants.) Second, they'll learn that Bannon's guardrails are higher than most realize. He's not only anti-establishment; he's studiously resistant to being co-opted.

Go deeper

Juneteenth forces U.S. to confront lasting impact of slavery economy

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Corbis, Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Juneteenth, a once-obscure commemoration of emancipation of enslaved people in Texas, has transformed into an annual reminder about how slavery robbed Black Americans of generational wealth.

Why it matters: That lack of generational wealth still denies Black families the economic security that many white families take for granted.

Biden to meet with U.S. financial regulators on Monday

Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty Images

President Biden will meet with financial regulators on Monday.

Driving the news: "The meeting will cover regulatory priorities including climate-related financial risk and agency actions to promote financial inclusion and to responsibly increase access to credit," said press secretary Jen Psaki, according to a press pool report.