Former White House chief strategist and current super-creepy guy selling tickets at the entrance to your local haunted house, Steve Bannon, is on a mission.
After Bannon was ejected from 1600 Penn. in August presumably to deflect criticism after Trump’s bungled response to Charlottesville (and please, let’s not pretend like it’s a coincidence that Bannon’s exit came just five days after what happened in Virginia), the populist firebrand declared “war” on the GOP establishment. Whether Trump will himself become a casualty of that “war” remains to be seen, but as we’ve suggested on any number of occasions, every step Trump takes towards building a rapport with the establishment is a step closer to Bannon’s gun sights.
Well, Bannon’s populist/nationalist message itself came under fire this week first from John McCain and then, in a dramatic escalation, from George Bush. Here’s Bush:
In other words, George has seen just about enough of this “weird shit.”
Guess what? Bannon is furious. Imagine that, right? Here’s Steve speaking at a California Republican Party convention on Friday:
Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon: George Bush "has no earthly idea whether he's coming or going—just like it was when he was president." pic.twitter.com/pXGd7F8kxW
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) October 21, 2017
Make no mistake, it is not lost on Steve that Trump is even stupider than Bush. It’s just that right now, Bannon is going to see if he can still use the President as a vessel – once he gives up on that (which eventually he will), he’ll be saying the same things about Trump.
Bannon also took aim at Silicon Valley (the “lords of technology”), the political establishment (“permanent political class”), and of course, the “global elites.” As a reminder, it’s always about the “global elites” – which is simply a conspiratorial way to say “rich people” (oh, and by the way, Steve Bannon is rich too).
Here’s the thing you need to understand about Steve Bannon (and it’s no longer clear that he understands this about himself). He’s correct to criticize the likes of Bush and McCain and to decry the pitfalls inherent in having a rigid, two-party system that creates an entrenched political aristocracy vulnerable to all manner of horse trading, log rolling, and lobbying on behalf of special interests. But Bannon, like the online personality cult that champions his message, is crazy. What’s critical is that you can separate the kind of crazy that lands America in ridiculous foreign wars, perpetuates a suboptimal political system, and facilitates a kind of capitalism that encourages inequality, from the kind of crazy that could set in motion a series of events from which the world can’t recover. Bannon is the latter kind of crazy – or at least he pretends to be.
And see that brings us back to another point we’ve made on all kinds of occasions. Steve Bannon is just a failed Hollywood elitist who, at some point, decided he wanted to lead a populist revolution. He traces that decision back to his father losing money in AT&T shares. That’s obviously ridiculous.
So to the extent populism almost always emanates from false prophets, Bannon’s brand is false not once, but twice.
Keep that in mind.
We’ll leave you with one last quote from Bannon’s Friday speech:
If you have the wisdom, the strength, the tenacity, to hold [the coalition that elected Trump] together, we will govern for 50 to 75 years.