[Bannon is] one of the few genuine ideologues in the Trump circle. He has a very clear and coherent idea of what Trumpism is, perhaps more so than the candidate himself.Do you see the problem with this? If what Heer is saying roughly approximates conventional wisdom, then the political and media establishments are never likely to hold Giuliani, Gingrich, Christie, Conway, Stone, and others responsible for their work on a thuggish campaign that polarized America, offered aid and comfort to America's enemies, and normalized vile acts of bigotry. According to Heer, nearly all the members of Trump's team are cynics, desperate opportunists, or guns for hire. Yes, everything got ugly and vicious for a while, and Trump's people said and did some shocking things. But they didn't mean it!
... Aside from Bannon and paleoconservative speech writer Stephen Miller, most of the people in the Trump campaign seem to have cynical motives. They are Republican Party careerists ([Kellyanne] Conway), partisan hatchet-men for hire (Roger Stone), goonish underlings (Lewandowski), servile cronies (Hope Hicks), scandal-ravaged former political operatives (Roger Ailes) or washed-up politicians for whom Trump is one last chance to stay relevant (Christie, Gingrich, Giuliani).
In fact, Trump himself might not even be blamed for his own campaign. According to Heer, "perhaps" it's true that he doesn't even have a firm grasp on his own ideology -- Heer says Trump doesn't grasp the ideology the way Bannon does.
Imagine a future in which Trump loses and withdraws from politics. Imagine that he doesn't actually involve himself in what we've been calling Trump TV, or imagine that he lends it his name but isn't actively involved. Imagine that the Trump campaign's biggest contribution to the channel is a valuable list of small campaign donors. Imagine that the channel becomes largely identified not with Trump, but with Bannon and financiers such as Robert and Rebekah Mercer.
In this scenario, Trump will go off and try to rehabilitate his brand. He'll act as if the last year and a half never happened. He'll be friendly and gracious in interviews. He'll still be the same monster he was during the campaign, someone who, when given the chance to sow discord, did it on a mass scale, in a very dangerous way using very dangerous lies and group slanders, because he enjoys a fight. In this future, however, he'll no longer be the fascist on a balcony speaking to mobs. So the cultural gatekeepers will forget he ever was that guy. They'll assume playing that guy was just Trump goosing his image because it was good TV.
I'm assuming he'll weasel his way out of serious legal consequences in the future -- rich people usually do. As for the underlings, we already know that Kellyanne Conway is fielding book offers. We know that, in the thick of a campaign in which he'd said and done reprehensible things, Stone was deemed respectable enough to get an invite from The New Yorker to speak at its annual festival.
They'll all be rehabilitated. Trust me.