Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is a failed Hollywood screenwriter.
He’s also a former Goldman banker.
He’s also filthy rich.
And a lot of the people who are pushing his agenda on the internet would really appreciate it if you would stop mentioning all of those things.
Because exactly none of that aligns well with Bannon’s contention that his nationalist agenda stems from his deep-seated desire to rescue working class Americans from a prevailing order that systematically impoverishes them.
Back in March, Steve regaled the Wall Street Journal with a story about his father losing money in AT&T shares. Bannon tried to pitch that tale as something akin to the origin story that explained how he became a nationalist firebrand. If you haven’t read it you definitely should because for someone who prides himself on being able to manipulate people with compelling propaganda, Steve didn’t do a very good job of delivering a believable narrative. In fact, that Marty Bannon/AT&T story has been mercilessly lampooned in the seven months since it ran.
The bottom line is that Steve Bannon is just like a lot of the bloggers who champion his message: a wealthy banker pushing populism.
Even if we persist in the fantasy that Bannon actually cares about people like his father who were fleeced by the establishment, there are burning questions. Consider for instance, these excerpts from a Post article about the Marty Bannon fairy tale:
At some point in the Steve Bannon story I started wondering: If his father got fleeced, if “nobody [was] held accountable,” how can the remedy be less regulation? If Wall Street picked his old man’s pocket, why has President Trump appointed tycoon after tycoon who think the fairest tax is none at all and, in some cases, got immensely rich by collapsing companies and squeezing employees?
Where is the Trump appointee who cares about Bannon’s father? Why don’t they go down the halls of the White House to reassure Bannon and tell him it will never happen again? Why don’t they name an executive action after his father: The Martin Bannon, You Will Never Lose Your Nest Egg Act of 2017? The government will see to it.
Good questions, no? How is that Steve Bannon – again, a multi-millionaire in his own right – decided that the best way to help all the Marty Bannons of the world was to install a billionaire in the White House? How is that less regulation on the big banks is the answer? And on, and on, and on.
But while Bannon’s populism may be false, he’s no slouch when it comes to making people believe it. When he was ousted from the White House in the wake of the Charlottesville debacle (a decision the administration swears had nothing to do with the bad optics around keeping a known bigot on staff at a time when race relations were deteriorating again, but which clearly stemmed from Trump’s other advisors seeking to distance themselves from Steve), he declared “war” on the GOP establishment.
That “war” has since been carried out via Breitbart and so far, Bannon appears to be winning – or at least when it comes to bolstering alternative candidates within the GOP. Roy Moore’s victory over the Trump-endorsed Luther Strange in Alabama was a testament to Bannon’s ability to sway voters towards anti-establishment Republican candidates. And although the GOP’s black Tuesday certainly seems to suggest the xenophobic message Bannon embodies is losing its appeal among the electorate, there’s certainly room for Steve to capitalize off the apparent legislative ineptitude of people like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan in terms of running challengers to establishment GOP candidates. Whether or not that translates to victories over Democrats is another story.
Well in the latest shot across the bow from Bannon, Steve is now calling for the resignation of Mitch McConnell.
“I’m to the point that I think Mitch McConnell, to really bring unity to the Republican Party and get things done, I think Mitch McConnell ought to tender his resignation,” Bannon, told Sean Hannity on Wednesday, adding that “what he ought to do is offer to resign as soon as taxes are done. We can’t do it in the middle of taxes… Because I’ve got to tell you, there needs to be a sense of urgency in the Senate.”
Here’s the clip:
The knives are out. Steve Bannon says Mitch McConnell should "tender his resignation". pic.twitter.com/M14STaPQtN
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 9, 2017
Ok, whatever Steve. I mean I don’t think anyone is going to argue with the idea that Republicans can’t get anything done and thus the party leaders may not deserve to govern, but this has nothing to do with Bannon being concerned about legislative gridlock. Rather, this is just Steve doing what Steve does – lashing out at the establishment as part of an ongoing effort to orchestrate a political coup that would see “the swamp” drained and then restocked with Bannonites.
You’ll recall that this comes just weeks after the Washington Post reported that “a super PAC aligned with McConnell [has] revealed plans to attack Bannon personally as it works to protect GOP incumbents facing uphill primary fights.”
Don’t let it be lost on you here that no matter how pathetically inept lawmakers are at getting things done – indeed, it now seems like politicians are legislating in order to get reelected rather than getting elected to legislate, a perverse dynamic that is the very opposite of how things are supposed to work – we do not want Bannon disciples involved in making public policy. That would be an existential threat to everything the country stands for, and everyone with any sense on both sides of the aisle knows it.
And one last thing. Even if you support Steve Bannon and what he stands for, just remember that he is a charlatan. If you are a working class, white male and Bannon’s message resonates with you, ask yourself this question: how many millions are in your bank account? Then ask yourself this: have you ever worked at Goldman Sachs? And finally, maybe ask yourself this too: have you ever rubbed shoulders with Hollywood elite?
If the answer to those questions, in order, is “none, no, and no,” then just know this: Steve’s answers to the same questions are, again in order, “between 20 and 50, yes, and yes.”