On Sunday night, September 10th, CBS broadcast a sit-down of Steve Bannon for a 60 Minutes interview with Charlie Rose. Rose made sure to hit on every major point of the trump campaign and presidency, from Russia to Hillary, and the Access Hollywood tapes to General Kelly.
Bannon was, of course combative, stubborn, and confident like you’d expect, but revealed a mentality that may explain why he never criticizes the president, even when Trump does something he doesn’t like. “When you’re with him, you’re with him, good and bad.” There’s almost a strange nobility in it. It was for this standard he felt Gary Cohn and “others” should have resigned after Trump’s Charlottesville comments left them conflicted. He knew many of the staffers who were leaking were showing the same disloyalty, and therefore had an “obligation to resign.”
Is this why he did the same? No, he says. He just wasn’t fit for the job.
For it’s part, the White House seemed to distance itself from some of his “extreme” language.
Of course, anyone can see the irony in the indelible conviction of Trump’s supporters in his alleged management skills and “fighter” mentality. Why then can’t he seem to hire anyone loyal, competent or consistent? Virtually every major position in the White House has turned over in the first seven months (some haven’t been refilled), most in the last few. Bannon was the main holdout. Now, the commander-of-chief has left his post as well (where he simultaneously claimed to be a mere “staffer,” and top-advising influence on the president at the same time), to be the president’s “wingman…” by proxy, or something.
I didn’t know wingmen leave your side to do their work elsewhere. Perhaps there’s a secondary or tertiary definition I am unaware of.
A COALITION OF THE FRINGE
Either way, Bannon is loved by the minority classes, and despised by the majority masses. He’s ok with that. Because he still has the president’s ear. Bannon successfully brought together disparate groups in enough places to pull off the election upset of a lifetime with essentially 33,000 votes in three states. Donald Trump owes him for that.
Who are these loud voices? Some are the Paulbots of yesteryear (remember the rabid, angry, unstable minions that made life hell for many of us in 2011?), joined with the apolitical dependents of tabloid- and reality-based entertainment to create a loud, demanding crowd of supporters.
They aren’t fully understood though, as they demand both respect for “the people,” while rejecting the voice of the majority of the people. Just ask any dedicated Trumpidian about the election, and they’ll begin harping about 63 million voters, but also dismiss any mention of the 73 million who voted for other candidates. They want to believe they’re part of a majority, but depend on a misguided electoral college (whom could have spared us of both flawed major candidates) for validation. And they remind you of that every time. They simply cannot avoid contradicting themselves in nearly every conversation.
And neither can Bannon.
Bannon says the media and Republican establishment are hampering Trump’s agenda, and trying to “nullify the election,” but he admits the firing of James Comey was the “greatest mistake in modern political history.” He says it’s good to have a “Darwinian” staff that competes for the best ideas, but feels those who disagree with the president should quit. He wants to bring populism to the forefront, but he also runs a digital empire built on conservatism. He claims to be one. They’re both the victim, and the victor. Both cannot be true. None of these can be simultaneously true.
To me, this indicates a smart, thoughtful, but manipulative man who just wants to get his way accomplished, regardless of what it takes. While I admire true believers, even when they’re wrong, this case makes me pause. His ideas as wrong, and counterproductive.
In the end, Bannon may think he’s a “street fighter,” working to expand populism nationwide (he has a 15-20 year plan, according to the interview), but our system of government has shut down both of these time and again. We cannot, as conservatives, respect the Constitution, the founders who created it, and our institutions of government while also calling for damage to it.
Steve Bannon has his pulse on a large minority of voters, and he’s manipulating them through suggestive, inaccurate and even completely fake news about the very institutions we need to restore trust in. After more than a decade of working hard to instill good conservatives at every level of government, we are now losing much of the ground we gained in the wake of this populist anger he helped to foment.
All we can hope for is that the back of the conservative tabloid media is broken, and people begin to yearn for the days where it was ok to accept facts that contradicted your assumptions, and we were slower to react to the news of the day. It’s our fault that we’ve allowed this to happen, and we need to discipline ourselves to bring back the respect for government and conservative ideas that we once had. And Steve Bannon must not be part of that restoration.
Finally, we heard Bannon explain the reasons why, in his own words. He can’t blame the media for his talk of civil war anymore than he can blame 60 Minutes producers for his choice of shirt(s).