Steve Bannon and Donald Trump have had their ups and downs. Bannon helped secure Trump’s electoral victory, but also frequently angered the president, including by calling his daughter Ivanka “dumb as a brick.” Trump fired Bannon from his chief strategist post in 2017, dubbed him “Sloppy Steve,” and declared that Bannon “not only lost his job, he lost his mind.” At the moment, it seems that Bannon is back in the president’s good graces. But even that didn’t spare the political strategist from a backhanded, comically-untrue jab: In a tweet posted Friday, Trump called Bannon one of his “best pupils.”

The faint praise was doled out in response to Bannon’s Friday appearance on CNBC. In the interview, Bannon asserted that presidential candidate Joe Biden “is not going to be able to stand up to the withering assault of Donald Trump,” and that in watching the debates he didn’t “see anybody on those stages either night that’s going to come close to taking out Donald Trump.” Trump, who loves praise and reportedly receives twice-daily briefings filled with fawning social media posts and positive news stories about his presidency, approved of Bannon’s performance.

By all accounts, of course, their relationship was almost totally the inverse, with the more politically fickle Trump serving as a student of Bannon’s ardent far-right nationalism. Bannon cultivated Trump’s affection for nationalist icon Andrew Jackson, gave reading assignments to the Trump team, and was so famously influential in the White House that the president reportedly became annoyed at the frequency with which Bannon was described as administration’s policy mastermind.  […]