Steve Bannon has been characterized by some as a crafty warrior who, catlike always lands on his feet — albeit a fat, hungover cat. Bannon came to national prominence in August, 2016 when he took over the languishing Trump campaign and using the tools of Breitbart, Facebook, and Cambridge Analytica turned a floundering race into a flourishing one and took Donald Trump across the finish line. Bannon wrote the “American Carnage” inaugural speech, sabotaged the Paris Accord treaty and declared that he would oust Mitch McConnell and recast the senate in his own image. With the release of Michael Wolff’s book “Fire And Fury,” speculation is whether Bannon is a victim of his own vainglory, deceived by his own hubris, or, if calling Trump’s family members traitors is part of some grander scheme to destroy Donald Trump and wrest control of the GOP. One thing is for certain: the events of the past few days constitute a watershed moment in Bannon’s career, one way or the other. Is Bannon plotting to take down Trump or, alternatively, is he fighting for his own survival? The Hill:
This strategist argued that the idea that Bannon would foment some kind of schism among populist or hard-right activists and voters was overdone. There had been discontent with Washington Republicans among grassroots conservatives for years before Bannon became a national figure, the source argued. It was not within Bannon’s power to direct them in one way or another.
“As an outside the box-thinking strategist and tactician, he was effective on several fronts,” said the senior Republican strategist. “But there is no Bannon constituency. There isn’t a legion — or even a small group — of Bannon activists in Arizona or in some other state that can have an impact on an election.”
Probably the most alarming development is the public defection of Rebekah Mercer.
“I support President Trump and the platform upon which he was elected,” Rebekah Mercer said, according to the Post. “My family and I have not communicated with Steve Bannon in many months and have provided no financial support to his political agenda, nor do we support his recent actions and statements.”
The New York Times reported that the Mercers had also cut off funding for Bannon’s private security detail.
So is there method in Bannon’s madness?
If Breitbart wanted to shift its approach, GOP strategist Alex Conant said, “It would have to be a slow and gradual shift. Breitbart, for the last two years, has been mostly a pro-Trump site. They would immediately lose a lot of readers if they became anti-Trump.”
Conant, who worked for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) during the 2016 primaries, was one of several sources who, though not Bannon allies, cautioned against counting him out.
“Bannon is so good at generating media for himself that it is hard to imagine he will disappear,” Conant said. “He will continue to be a voice in American politics for the foreseeable future.”
For now, the bottom line looks to be that the White House was momentarily riding high in the saddle with the passage of the tax bill. Now this headache. As Alex Conant said, “I can’t imagine a worse way for a White House to start it’s second year. It feeds Trump’s detractors worse fears and it needlessly divides his supporters. He is fueling the opposition while fighting with his base.”
That leads one back to the posture, maybe Bannon did plan for this on purpose, and that just keeps the ping pong game going. Time will tell whether Bannon is in fact a brilliant strategist, and far more brilliant than people gave him credit for, or if he, like Trump is so far out of his depth that he doesn’t even have one foot on the ground any more and this is just another step downward to the inevitable fall from which there is no return. The characters in the Trump administration are positively Shakespearean.