Wednesday, January 03, 2018


As I'm sure you know by now, Steve Bannon has apparently burned his bridges to Trumpworld, and threatened his standing among the #MAGA millions:
Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon has described the Trump Tower meeting between the president’s son and a group of Russians during the 2016 election campaign as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”, according to an explosive new book seen by the Guardian....

Bannon remarked mockingly: “The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor – with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers.

“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”
As Axio's Jonathan Swan says, "Bannon touched the third rail of Trumpworld — going after the president's blood family." Predictably, Trump has lashed out:
“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind,” President Trump says in emailed statement, Bloomberg News reports.
... Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party.

Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn't as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country. Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans.

Steve doesn't represent my base-he's only in it for himself.
Charlie Pierce thinks the Trumpers should be worried because Bannon is smart and a true nihilist:
The problem Bannon’s newfound candor presents to this White House is a simple one. He’s smarter than most of them are, including the president*. He is better at burning things down than they are because he does very little of it by accident. His talent for destruction is more finely honed and he is a man of no political conscience whatsoever, and now he has very little to lose. He also is someone who prospered in both high finance and in Hollywood, two places where having the essential humanity of a wolverine is a positive advantage.

The Trumps et. al., including the president*, were raised in an atmosphere in which nobody was around to tell them that they couldn’t do X, or that they shouldn’t do Y. This left them unprepared for someone like Bannon who, for all his faults, truly and deeply appears not to give a green shit about anything or anybody.
But I have to disagree. I don't think "he has very little to lose." I don't think he "appears not to give a green shit about anything or anybody."

He gives a shit about himself -- that's why he spends so much time talking to reporters and book writers (he was a main source for Joshua Green's book before he was a source for the book under discussion now, by Michael Wolff).

Is he playing a long game? Does he think that Trump will fall soon, and be so disgraced that even the deplorables will pretend they never liked him, while he himself will remain in their good graces? I don't see that happening. If Trump falls, his base will believe he was dragged down by traitors -- and Bannon will be considered one of them. How is he helping himself by creating that impression?

Or does Bannon want to rebrand himself as a respectable right-wing operative? I'd say that was possible -- but there's little other evidence of that. Yes, Bannon cut ties with Milo Yiannopoulos ("dead to me") and Paul Nehlen ("dead to us") after their white nationalism became too embarrassing to ignore, but there's nothing else respectable about what he's doing. He's still the unsocialized outsider.

There's a line in that Trump statement that rings true:
Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was.
I think that's all we're seeing. Bannon likes the sound of his own voice, especially when it's amplified by a mainstream-media megaphone. So he'll talk to anyone who'll listen to him and transcribe and publish what he says. In that he's exactly like his old boss the president, who also "pretends to be at war with the media" yet desperately craves validation from it.

Pierce thinks the Trumps live a soft life. Bannon's a pauper compared to the Trumps -- but compared to most of us, he's an elitist. He's collected gobs of money while making clinically manic leaps from career to career. Like most rick guys, he seems to think he's utterly immune to peril. So I think he's just on a drug/dopamine/whatever binge, risking his standing in his world because YOLO. I don't think he's being crafty or smart.

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