August 21, 2020

Steve Bannon

“President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, was pulled from a luxury yacht and arrested Thursday on allegations that he and three associates ripped off donors trying to fund a southern border wall.” AP News

Read the indictment here. Department of Justice

See past issues

From the Left

The left notes that Bannon’s behavior is just the latest example of criminal behavior by Trump’s advisers.

“[The wall] was not just a symbol of Trump’s promise to wind back the demographic clock (and, to the degree that some voters actually saw it this way, his vow to protect working Americans from low-skilled immigrant labor competition). It also symbolized the broader story Trump was telling. In this tale, Trump would reverse the carnage that globalization had inflicted on the industrial heartland — and by extension would challenge the unchecked global capitalism that neoliberal elites, including the GOP establishment he ran against, were enriching themselves off of…

“The charging of Bannon is so resonant because it neatly captures what a scam this whole story has turned out to be… Bannon never cared much about Trump’s populist nationalism beyond immigration, and neither did Trump. Yes, Bannon did [obsess] over China, and Trump has continued down that path with his trade wars. But these impulses also have always been more about xenophobia than populist economics, and the result here has also been a major disaster… by the way, Bannon was reportedly taken into custody while hanging out on the yacht of a Chinese billionaire.”
Greg Sargent, Washington Post

“If you’re keeping score, the group of people around the president who have been charged with crimes now includes Trump’s campaign CEO, Trump’s campaign chairman, Trump’s deputy campaign chairman, Trump’s personal lawyer, Trump’s national security adviser and Trump’s longtime friend and political adviser… But the story of Bannon’s arrest isn’t just a reflection on Trump — though it certainly is that. It’s also an extremely common story on the right and has been for decades…

“Make a donation to a Republican politician or a conservative cause and you’ll be put on a list, one that will be traded and bought and sold, so you’ll be deluged with urgent pleas for funds. And while there’s plenty of legitimate fundraising that happens this way, from the beginning, this system was awash in scammers, people who pleaded for donations but never actually used them to aid the causes they claimed.”
Paul Waldman, Washington Post

“During any previous national convention, the revelation that a sitting president’s onetime chief strategist had been arrested and indicted would have sent the challenger’s campaign scrambling to rewrite speeches and work the news into that evening’s program. Biden’s campaign, however, merely shrugged: ‘No one needed a federal indictment to know that Steve Bannon was a fraud,’ deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield told reporters when she was asked about the news on a press call.”
Russell Berman, The Atlantic

“The simple truth is that the story of Bannon is, in many ways, the story of Trump's presidency. The billionaire businessman has attracted all sorts of third-rate political consultants, grifters and assorted hangers-on, elevated them to positions of power, cast them out of those positions and then watched as they aimed to cash in on their moment in the sun -- whether via a tell-all book or, in Bannon's case, an alleged nest-feathering scheme.”
Chris Cillizza, CNN

From the Right

The right condemns Bannon and expresses concern about the future of Trumpism.

The right condemns Bannon and expresses concern about the future of Trumpism.

“For Bannon, who built his entire career riding on the coattails of men more powerful than him, this is a fitting fall. Bannon spent his early career as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs and then sold his own boutique firm to French firm Societe Generale. He then rebranded himself as an anti-globalist everyman, transforming Breitbart after the death of the eponymous founder from a firebrand conservative news site into what he called ‘the platform of the alt-right.’…

“Bannon then forayed the (since tempered) radicalization of Breitbart into a top spot in the Trump campaign, setting the stage to soft-pedal his own demographic grievances while reportedly undermining the White House through a coordinated series of clandestine leaks to alt-right journalists. Luckily, Trump finally gave Sloppy Steve the boot, with ties between the two severely worsened after Bannon leaked like a sieve to serial fabulist Michael Wolff. It's safe to say that no tears will be shed in the Oval Office today.”
Tiana Lowe, Washington Examiner

“The wall was one of Donald Trump’s biggest and boldest campaign promises and it generated a lot of excitement among his base. After he ran into a stone wall with the Democrats and their objections to funding the project, We Build the Wall became something of a rallying point and the money flowed in quickly. To find that the project was at least partly operated in a fraudulent manner by someone who was given a second chance after his past misdeeds is frustrating in the extreme.”
Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

Some argue that “Trump will hardly be the first president whose cronies got into hot water with law enforcement. Jimmy Carter had Bert Lance and Bill Clinton, the McDougals, among others. But the sheer scope and sweep of malversation surrounding Trump is breathtaking… The man who pledged to drain the swamp has singlehandedly pumped more fetid water into it than almost anyone could have conceived.”
Jacob Heilbrunn, Spectator USA

“There is a broader issue regarding the future of the conservative movement: the failure of Trumpism to put down deep institutional roots. From the 1950s to the 1980s, movement conservatives built a series of institutions of their own… and generally put the stamp of Reagan/Goldwater/Buckley style conservatism on the Republican Party and the American Right…

“Where are the Trumpist institutions? True, a few of the old institutions of the Reagan-era movement have bent to varying degrees in Trump’s direction, but some of that is just the natural tendency of political institutions to work with power. [That tendency] does not guarantee that such institutions will act as long-term intellectual guardians and advocates of Trumpism… Institutions do not survive without good stewards, and the seemingly chronic tendency of Trumpist stewards to scam their own donors and abandon their own troops on the field of battle does not bode well for the ability of such institutions to survive the transition when the White House passes out of Donald Trump’s hands.”
Dan McLaughlin, National Review

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