Friday, November 04, 2016


Jeet Heer's latest piece for The New Republic concerns Steve Bannon's long-range plan to expand his racist media empire after his gig with the Donald Trump campaign ends. But what catches my eye in the piece is how Heer characterizes the members of Trump's inner circle -- and Trump himself:
[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.

... 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).
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!

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.


Jimbo said...

The one and only enduring rule: IOKIYAR.

Victor said...

What Jimbo said!

Phil Freeman said...

I assume Steve has seen Matt Aukamp's tweet from back in July:

"One day, Donald Trump is going to look a reporter straight in the eyes on national TV and say 'I never ran for President.'"

Lit3Bolt said...

"Giuliani, Christie, and Gingrich were driven by economic anxiety to say all of those things!"

Feud Turgidson said...

Phil Freeman, if "one day" ever comes to pass, he better get right on it: He's freaking SEVENTY, and he's currently facing even more that many active legal actions, with the trial on Trump University set to start near the end of this month & him being required to make a personal appearance in court during the first week of December on the underaged girl rape allegation. His brand has gone into the toilet, other than cap sales & ripping off his political campaign donors he doesn't have any net income stream at this point, and he's about to be hit with the biggest kick to his shriveled nads sack of his entire life, with the outcoming POTUS doing the Debbie Reyolds' TOLD YOU SO dance in tandem with the WOMAN who defeated him.

And meanwhile the GOP, out of self-presevation, is about to form up for the biggest bums rush a failed major party nom will ever have faced, while he'll feel the necessity of going nuke on the GOP just to preserve his only current little money-maker.

mlbxxxxxx said...

Rehabed or not, the future of the GOP still includes the same stressors that led to Trump. The Freedom Caucus, nee Tea Party, is going to demand the worst to stop the demon Hillary which will crash the party repeatedly against the realities of governance, e.g., budgeting, debt ceiling, etc.

I fully agree that the GOPers will have the media rooting for them to repair the breech but defeating Trump will not solve their problems. I think it is more likely to make them worse. If Trump wins, the wind is taken out of the Freedom Caucus's sails and Trump who will be newly allied with the establishment (maybe less Ryan) will reign supreme. If he loses, the FC gets empowered and wreaks havoc.

Ed Baptist said...

There is but one ideology, and it is TRUMP!

Professor Chaos said...

No one on the right is ever held accountable for anything by the media. Every pundit or so-called "expert" who predicted a quick easy victory in Iraq leading to a flowering of pro-Western democracy across the middle East is still welcomed back on tv with open arms and still have their opinions taken seriously.