By Jason Taylor
Donald Trump said Steve Bannon had nothing to do with his presidency, yet he was installed as a civilian amid a cadre of generals on the National Security Council, a unique event causing much controversy at the time. That was a short-lived presence, and, while not yet a year past, it seems like ancient history in this disaster of an administration. The defrocking of the man as Trump’s Svengali intimates at a higher danger: the administration is finding its feet, functioning without Trump as its overseer and without Bannon’s toxic presence.
The country is being led by a cabal of ideologues that use Trump as a smokescreen and are competent enough not to need Bannon’s sloppy specter to provide a doctrine. Watch now as gauche reality TV converts into mainstream politics.
Bannon had a pipedream is his mind that there was actually something called “Trumpism” and it meshed with the revolution in his mind. As the president has gladly turned into “just a signature” for signing whatever legislation the GOP Congress might be able to produce, it became more and more obvious that there is no “Trumpism.” No revolution. The president has joined the leaders of the political institutions that Bannon has railed against and sought to remove. Trump is Trump and there is no “Trumpism” or revolution. Just Trump.
Steve Bannon is an advocate of what’s called “generations theory,” the notion that this country goes through 80-year cycles. According to that theory (laid out most notably in Strauss and Howe’s The Fourth Turning), the US is now in the “Fourth Turning” or crisis stage, “a decisive era of secular upheaval, when the values regime propels the replacement of the old civic order with a new one.”
Bannon no doubt tells his admirers he’s a white knight dealing with this foreordained crisis. Given his egomania, however, I wonder if he isn’t actually and deliberately promoting the crisis. That’s what all his actions suggest.
All of Trump’s enablers and surrogates will eventually experience similar public derision and humiliation. Trump is a toxic waste dump, and all these people ignored the posted warnings. Some like Manafort,, Gates, Flynn, and Papadopoulos, and there will be more, are now part of criminal proceedings…Sessions, Graham, Grassley, Ryan, Kushner, McConnell, Tillerson, McGahn, Hicks, Mnuchin, Pruitt, Miller, Cohn and Kelly to name just a few will not be spared the odious smear of Trump for the rest of their lives.
Republicans must realize that Bannon now is free to criticize Trump savagely because he has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Bannon can just get into a twitter war with Trump, which the media will publicize for him for free; or he can write his own tell-all book for which he could receive a healthy advance. He does not need a well-funded platform like Breitbart.
The truth is Trump has failed to fulfill any of his populist promises; and in many cases, e.g., tax cuts for the very rich, he has done the opposite. Only Bannon can turn Trump’s base against him. He knows how it was assembled, and he knows how to take it apart lie by lie by lie. Trump should be wary of having Bannon as an enemy.
Nevertheless, the Democrats must be mindful of the fact that one’s enemy’s enemy is not necessarily one’s friend.
Steve Bannon’s political ideas were (are) really out there. His worldview that the white Christian world is in a death match with Islam and that Putin’s Russia would team up with Trump’s America aren’t just nuts, they’re racist and borderline seditious. In his personal life, he was angry, disheveled, and undisciplined. I can’t believe the billionaire Mercer’s threw so much money at him — another reason if nothing else to get rid of so much dark money in politics.
Bannon biggest mistake was getting ahead of his egocentric former boss. Power has undone greater souls than Bannon, but I’m sure if Trump ever needs him again, he’ll be back in no time.