Words are now coming out of Trump’s mouth but Bannon seems to be only half listening. He’s got a pair of phones out and is scrolling through the speech, the text of which someone has just sent him. As he reads his face flushes. “They have path to citizenship in here,” he says, matter-of- factly. “It’s terrible. It’s a betrayal.”
He leaves the room for several minutes, perhaps to compose himself. When he returns he takes real notice of the remarkable scene that is unfolding. At even the most anodyne applause lines the Democrats remain seated. Bannon seems to view the Democrats less as the opposition party than figures of fun. “The Democrats don’t matter,” he had said to me over our lunch. “The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit.” But he stares at the seated Democrats with genuine wonder. “Look at this,” he says. “Even Reagan — I’ve never seen a State of the Union like this.”
“Tell me when you think Trump really cares about what he is saying,” I say.
Bannon laughs, but not a happy laugh. “I will.”