Bannon V. Trump: Is Trump Right?

by C. Edmund Wright on January 4, 2018

As published earlier today in American Thinker:

The bubbling tensions between President Donald Trump and his former senior advisor Steve Bannon escalated into an all out street brawl on social media Wednesday, as excerpts from Bannon in the forthcoming book “Fire and Fury” circulated, and of course, the President fired back. Trump always fires back, and it’s absolutely one reason he was nominated, then elected, But a sober analysis of his tweeting and responses would reach the inescapable conclusion that he responds at times when he should not.

That I, a reluctant Trump supporter would say this, draws only derision from the universe of supporters who demand 100% fealty naturally. But hey, even Milo, one of his very early adopters and biggest – and most effective supporters over the past two years, understands this dynamic. In  explaining his shocking “daddy” reference to the President, he stated that it has to do with the fact that while Trump’s “got your back,” he can also sometimes “make you cringe and embarrass you in front of your friends.”

I agree, on all points, and contend that Trump should not punch down at Joe and Mika on Morning Joe for example, and he certainly shouldn’t give LaVar Ball the time of day. And while I’m not particularly worried about his rather transparent anatomy double entendre with Kim Jong Un about button size, and so forth, reasonable people can make a case that doing so was dangerous and/ or a bit childish.

But back to Trump and Bannon. Is Trump right here? Well, yes and no.  I submit that I’m in a perfect position to comment, since I was an associate of Bannon in our fight against the Republican establishment, and it’s relevant that our professional relationship was strained when my support for Trump did not measure up to Steve’s demands.

And it’s instructive that where Steve and I disagree, I tend to be in agreement with Trump – and where I disagree with Trump, it’s often where I do agree with Bannon.

For example, Trump was totally wrong, at least in context, when he replied that “Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates” and rubbed salt into the wound by adding that “Steve had very little to do with our historic victory.”

That’s utter nonsense, in context. Yes, technically Bannon did not join the team until the primary season was over. But in proper context, Bannon had a major impact on Trump’s primary campaign success as the Executive Chairman at Breitbart prior. It’s why he got the job for crying out loud. For Trump to dismiss Steve’s contribution now is to make Steves’ shocking hire in the summer of 2016 look ridiculous.

Consider that for years, Breitbart, not to mention Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity,  The Drudge Report and other conservative outlets had been pretty much 100% philosophical matches for Ted Cruz, not to mention big supporters of how Scott Walker turned Wisconsin upside down.

When all of those outlets went all in for Trump, and not Walker or Cruz, in the primary season, it had a major impact on the race. They were worth some 2 billion dollars worth of free positive coverage to Trump in the primary season alone. A study I conducted of Limbaugh’s transcripts showed about 500 million dollars worth of coverage on just his show.

This PR was a massive factor, and for those who want to make the “chicken and egg” argument – which is reasonable – I will remind you that all of those outlets, including Breitbart, were all in for Trump before Trump gained his irresistible momentum, and perhaps why and how he ever gained it in the first place.

This is what I had predicted in March of 2015, here and in Breitbart, that the Republican who won the “Limbaugh Breitbart Talk Radio Internet primary” would win the nomination, period. End of discussion. Trump was not in the race at the time, but he clearly ended up winning that universe over all by a wide margin, and Cruz was the second fave among those platforms, by a wide margin.

Not coincidentally, Trump and Cruz were 1-2 in actual voting as well.  And again, the salient point to this is that Bannon had a helluva lot to do with Trump’s win before he officially joined the campaign. In fact, at the time, the joke was that Bannon had changed employers, but had retained the same job: as ‘Trump’s Campaign Manager.’

Then there’s the General Election Campaign itself. There is no way to minimize the contributions that both Bannon and Kellyanne Conway made to the efforts. We’ll never know for sure what might have happened, but we do know that Trump’s polls improved mightily after those two took charge, and that in the end, the national pollsters were almost spot on accurate with the popular vote, even if they missed the Electoral College outcome.

Something improved on Team Trump after Bannon took over, and I refuse to believe it was coincidence. Steve Bannon is one of the five people on the planet most responsible for Trump’s win. Trump is numero uno of course, but Steve is on that list, along with Drudge, Hannity and of course the bumbling boring Hillary Clinton. Without the efforts of all five, the outcome is different. It was that close, and these people were all that important.

So where was Trump right? Bannon and Alabama. Forget the specifics of Roy Moore and the accusers for a second, and keep in mind that in general, Steve Bannon loathes the Republican establishment even more than he loathes the Democratic left. And he guides the content at Breitbart consistent with that emphasis.

The fact is, the despicable Mitch McConnell should’ve never stuck his nose, and his Super PAC money, into that primary in the first place on behalf of Luther Strange. Trump should not have endorsed him, and Moore should have never entered. Mo Brooks was a perfectly suitable candidate, who would almost always vote for Trump’s agenda, who could’ve beaten Strange – and any Democrat.

This Roy Moore effort was not a hill to die on, not at this time. Moore would have certainly won without the accusations, but he was controversial even before that started, responded poorly to the charges, and it was simply an unforced error to spend political capital on his behalf –  at least with respects to the opportunity costs of doing so.

Remember, there are ten Democrat Senators in Trump states facing election in 2018, and those are easier primaries to win without an establishment incumbent to deal with. Moreover, the risk of handing the gavel to Chuck Schumer is lessened, not increased, by focusing on these.

But Bannon wants to ‘burn it all down,’ meaning primarily the Republican Establishment. I prefer overwhelming the establishment with numbers by winning the easier primaries.

As for Bannon’s accusations regarding some of Trump’s family and other Trump supporters vis a vis Russia and some other issues, time will tell whether he is right or not. I have no particular insight into those issues, only predicting that  the entire Russia collusion story will end up as a nothing.

In the meantime, a Trump versus Bannon fight is not helpful to anyone who wants to keep the socialist Democrat statists in check. When the fighting is intramural in nature, we get the disaster of Alabama. When we keep our eye on the ball, we get the tax reform win. I want more wins, less Alabamas, in the coming year.



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