Democrats and their allies in the media have big plans for White House advisor (and former Breitbart honcho) Steve Bannon. The level of outrage which was originally expressed at the announcement of Bannon’s ascension seemed to die down a bit after it became obvious that President Trump wasn’t going to be taking any advice from the peanut gallery. At first, I wondered if the left-leaning masses were simply going to go back to grumbling and accept the situation as part of the new normal. A few weeks into the scrum, that’s clearly not the case. Unable to remove Bannon from his new perch by force of outraged demands, a new strategy was clearly in order.
If you want to see a minor example of the current approach, look no further than this analysis in the Washington Post from Fareed Zakaria. The author is careful not to throw too many stones at Bannon but rather damns him with strong praise, clearly describing him as the ideological center of the White House foreign and domestic policy agenda machine. (Washington Post)
The chief ideologist of the Trump era is surely Stephen K. Bannon, by many accounts now the second-most powerful man in the government. Bannon is intelligent and broadly read, and has a command of U.S. history. I’ve waded through his many movies and speeches, and in these, he does not come across as a racist or white supremacist, as some people have charged. But he is an unusual conservative. We have gotten used to conservatives who are really economic libertarians, but Bannon represents an older school of European thought that is distrustful of free markets, determined to preserve traditional culture and religion, and unabashedly celebrates nationalism and martial values.
You get a sense of the style here but other outlets have been far less subtle. Foreign Policy magazine recently ran a blaring headline titled, President Bannon’s hugely destructive first week in office. Slate magazine asked, is Donald Trump Steve Bannon’s puppet? Political Magazine even quoted a former Secretary of State as saying that Bannon was “pulling the strings in the White House.” Other examples are legion, but I’m sure you’re catching the general theme by now.
So why would those who find Bannon so excruciatingly terrible go to such extremes to shower him with praise? After all, if this man truly is the Devil incarnate, plotting some grand overthrow of the nation which liberals hold near and dear, why not simply eviscerate him in the press? The answer is that the realization has sunk in that Donald Trump doesn’t listen to anyone except himself. If he wants Bannon by his side that is where Bannon shall remain. But there is one weak spot in Trump’s armor in the left seems to have figured out a way to exploit it, or at least make a valiant attempt to do so.
The one thing President Trump hates more than anything else is the thought of not being in control. I do not say this is a disqualifying caricature, because it’s a quality found in most leaders throughout history, but Donald Trump has an ego the size of his tower in Manhattan. The idea of not being “the man” running the show is obviously intolerable to him. The left will not be able to eject Steve Bannon from his position in the White House so there was only one obvious alternative: to get Donald Trump to do it for them. Combine this idea with the knowledge that the president is seemingly addicted to cable news shows and national newspaper headlines. It’s not difficult to imagine the expression of rage crossing the president’s furrowed brow each time he hears a cable television news anchor talking about “President Bannon” and how he is calling the shots inside the Oval Office.
In the fashion of a retired warrior observing the battlefield of the next generation I really have to give the left side media credit for this one. It’s a fairly brilliant plan. Donald Trump generally despises them but he is also clearly incapable of ignoring them. The larger they construct the billboard proclaiming Steve Bannon as the shadow leader of the free world, the more likely he is to find himself at the receiving end of Donald Trump’s boot. Will it work? Trump is no dummy, but this might be a bit much for him to swallow.