Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Bannon: Alt-White Clowns, Losers, and Useful Idiots


thenation  |  In Steve Bannon’s now-famous call to Robert Kuttner of The American Prospect the day before he was fired, Bannon described the white supremacists who had marched in Charlottesville as “losers” and “a collection of clowns.” Of course, those are the same sorts of people Bannon mobilized to vote for Trump, the most loyal part of his base. I asked Joshua Green about that—he wrote the definitive book on Bannon, Devil’s Bargain. We spoke the evening before Bannon was fired as chief strategist at the Trump White House.

“He said similar things to me,” Green said; “he called them ‘freaks’ and ‘goofballs.’” Bannon, he said, “views these kinds of alt-right Internet trolls as useful idiots whom he can manipulate to do his bidding. He sees them as a small but powerful and energetic cohort that will help him tear down the Republican political establishment and open up room for Donald Trump. He sees them also as a group of people who won’t hesitate to attack the mainstream media, which is another obsession of Steve Bannon’s.” 

The big questions about Bannon, of course, are how Trump views him, and how he views Trump. Green emphasized that Trump’s biggest problem with Bannon always was the way Bannon got credit for Trump’s victory. For a long time, he said, Trump has been “furious at the idea put forward in the press, and frankly that’s also the thesis of my book—the idea that…without Bannon’s guidance, Trump probably wouldn’t be president.” Green pointed to a Saturday Night Live sketch that “portrayed Bannon as the real president, making Donald Trump sit at the little boy’s desk—Trump hates that sort of thing.”