At least once in every generation a person enters the limelight that has the skill, the temperament, the intelligence and the motivation to dramatically shape world events. I think Stephen K. Bannon is one of these persons. He wants to be a game changer on the world stage but his objectives are definitely not consistent with American values.
After being appointed by President Donald Trump as chief strategist, Bannon arguably became the second most powerful man in the White House. He became even more powerful when Trump appointed him to the National Security Council Principals Committee. This means Bannon’s views and politics will influence national security deliberations. According to reports this will be the first time in recent history that a political operative has had a front-row seat on the Council.
Bannon was elevated from a low profile to national prominence in a very short period of time. He has never held public office and information on him has not been widely publicized until recently. But here is what we do know from his biography on Wikipedia and other sources.
Bannon is well educated, holding a bachelor’s degree in urban planning from Virginia Tech and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Harvard Business School. He served seven years as an officer in the navy in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Next Bannon worked as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs. In 1990 Bannon and several colleagues formed Bannon & Co., which was purchased by Société Générale in 1998. Needless to say, Bannon made himself a very wealthy man.
Bannon became involved in the Hollywood film and media business in the 1990s and produced 18 films. Among these were “In the Face of Evil” (a documentary about Ronald Reagan), “Fire from the Heartland: The Awakening of the Conservative Woman”, “The Undefeated” (about Sarah Palin), and “Occupy Unmasked.”
From his involvement in other media projects and his writings it appears that Bannon formed a radical, irrational opinion of Islam in the mid-2000s. He claimed that the “American Jewish Community”, the ACLU, the CIA, the FBI, the State Department, and the White House were “enablers” of a covert mission to establish an Islamic Republic in the United States.
Perhaps Bannon assumed his most controversial position in 2012 when he became executive chair of the parent company of Breitbart News, a far-right news and opinion website. In 2016 Bannon called Breitbart News “the platform for the alt-right (white supremacists and neo-Nazis).” This website has been labeled as racist, sexist, xenophobic, anti-gay and anti-Semitic. And there are credible reports that brand Bannon himself is a harasser and abuser of women.
But it doesn’t end there. The alt-right and Bannon have sent strong signals that they align with Russian President Vladimir Putin, his anti-gay policies and his “traditionalist” views. Bannon casts himself as a traditionalist, which among other things means he does not accept gays, gay marriage or multiculturalism. To me these traditionalists are the Christian equivalent of the Islamic traditionalists that form the nucleus of the Islamic State, but without the vicious behavior.
Although he later said that he had no recollection of it, Bannon told a writer for The Daily Beast, in late 2013 “I’m a Leninist. Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal, too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”
During a Breitbart interview on December 30, 2016, Bannon said, “I think we’ve lived through an historic time. I think we’ll talk about what happened in this year politically for many, many decades to come.” Bannon went on to say that 2017 will be as much of an “exciting time” as 2016 was.
Well, I’m not sure if Bannon equates “exciting” with “chaos” but apparently he does. It seems certain that Bannon was deeply involved in the chaotic executive order that implemented the immigration ban on January 27. As they say, his finger prints are all over that order.
The Washington Post reported that Bannon had a strong disagreement with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly over issuing a waiver for lawful permanent residents (green-card holders) from the seven countries whose citizens had been banned from entering the U.S. Supposedly Bannon ordered Kelly to not issue the waiver. Kelly refused saying he would have to hear it directly from the president. Then he issued the waiver in spite of Bannon’s objections.
In later discussions on this issue Kelly, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State designee Rex Tillerson reportedly presented a united front against Bannon. They complained about the process that led to the issuance of the executive order on immigration and the fact that they were not properly consulted. In the end the cabinet officers evidently won.
But here is what to look for: These types of disagreements among such powerful, strong-willed administration officials rarely continue. Someone has to yield or someone has to resign. Perhaps Trump can moderate Bannon, although he seems to share Bannon’s views. But if Bannon wins in this intra-administration battle, our nation is in real trouble.
This is going to be a very long battle. Bannon / Trump have overturned a lot of rocks allowing a ton of creepy things to crawl out and become active again. I hope we are strong and up for the challenge. I believe our Democracy depends on it.
well thought out as usual. thanks for your insights.
Good analysis as usual. My feeling (and urgent hope) is that Trump won’t last in office past this spring – at the rate he’s going, either impeachment proceedings ought to begin or he’ll get so frustrated with Washington, his own incompetence, and his sinking popularity that he’ll resign and hand over the presidency to Pence. My hunch is that Pence would fire Bannon from the White House staff.
Agree with assessment that Trump, a narcissistic sociopath, will simply quit and walk away leaving Pence to take over. I’m betting Trump quits in weeks, not months or years.
While I dislike Pence a great deal, it is Bannon I truly fear.
Note, Bannon has an obsession with war, military strategy and tactics. Fine if you’re in DoD,JS, or Services, and obviously most helpful at NSC. But, not to the degree Bannon is obsessed. He did do a tour in the Navy and left as a Lieutenant (03). NSC balances between intelligent foreign policy and national security (use of force) decision making. Foreign policy isn’t Trump’s “thing”, nor is it Bannon’s “thing” either. Being so heavy handed without an ounce of finesse is deadly and will drag the US and our Allies into wars on many fronts. (S. Stapleton).
I don’t see Trump resigning. Check out the American Psychiatric Assn’s 9 symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. He’s a perfect 9. He’ll have to be forced out. I hope I’m wrong and that you’re correct. It certainly would be less painful. Then we have Pence to worry about, but at least he’s not going to start a war.
Great, but frightening article. Bannon has to go. And, trump has to go. I am counting on our elected officials, our judicial system, as well as the more establishment members of trump’s cabinet to get it done. I would hope that, as he loses his base, it all happens quickly. I am not a fan of Pense, but at least he is sane!
And yes, also agree Pence will fire Bannon when Trump quits. We hope.
Bannon is a dangerous menace to democracy. I think he’s laughing behind the scenes as many of us are distracted by “gaffes” such as the Bowling Green massacre farce. That was totally intentional, part of his script to distract us and keep the media chasing ridiculous claims while much nastiness is being planned and carried out. We’re not too far from anarchy, I’m afraid.
Agree 1000 percent with Jim McKeever. We are being distracted by things like immigration — yes, very important, but a smokescreen for far more dangerous plays to our most basic and critical constitutional rights, and human rigjts. More pages out of the Nazi/Soviet Union playbook.
Jim McKeever: I am afraid that Trump is so egomaniacally narcissistic sociopath that nothing will penetrate his ego to drive him crazy enough to quit. Though i hope I’m wrong and he snaps and walks if too much pressure is in his face constantly.
Now, money is critical to him. Destroy his businesses and that may force him to walk. He tweeted about his daughter’s fashion stuff not being sold in Nordstroms. Yes, usual conflict of interest but shows he cares very much about family business empire survival.
Sharon: yes, Trump is all about his ego and money, and shaping some sort of legacy that will suit his view of reality — which isn’t shared by the majority of the country and perhaps the world. A major culprit, besides the aforementioned Bannon et al, is Congress. Hypocritical Republicans and weak Democrats are more worried about 2018 than anything else. Party before country. It’s beyond discouraging, and we’re starting to see anger take over at town hall meetings. These will become even more rare, which will on,y increase anger and then … Violence. Pick an issue — environment, finances (Dodd-Frank), civil rights, voting rights, women’s health care, immigration. And rampant conflict of interest in the WH. There’s a lot of anger out there, and you’ll probably see some ugly stuff when the Dakota pipeline starts back up. I marched in the Women’s March Jan 21 and that was a peaceful event. No arrests. The mood has changed since then.