“He just clicked with Trump in a way that outsiders don’t usually.”
Stephen K. Bannon should never have clicked with the Manhattan builder contemplating a run for president. President Trump, like candidate Trump, puts high value on appearance, and the wealthy man who turned Breitbart.com into a home for the alt-right (read: white supremacy) is the antithesis of grooming. “A sign of Trump’s appreciation for Bannon’s political skill [is] that he allows a big flea-bitten, moth-eaten, couch-looking guy like Steve Bannon to be in his inner orbit,” said Joshua Green, author of “Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency,” in the latest episode of “Cape Up.”
“It is a sign of the authentic connection between Trump and Bannon,” said Green, senior national correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek. In Trump, Bannon found a willing pupil for his anti-immigrant and nationalist fervor. In Bannon, Trump found a self-made man whose wealth he admired and whose Breitbart News championed his politics and presidential campaign. Together, they ran one of the ugliest races for the White House in recent memory.
Green said that Bannon, who was brought in as Trump’s campaign chief executive after a third shake-up of his team, was “the guy who came in and told [Trump] to be more extreme, to go further, to never apologize.” When a Trump campaign ad was criticized for its anti-Semitic bent and apologies were demanded, Green writes that Bannon counseled, “Darkness is good. Don’t let up.” A mind-set we are continuing to see from Trump’s West Wing, that place where senior staffers backstab, front-stab and just plain knife each other in the press in the hopes of getting someone fired.
That’s what happened to departed chief of staff Reince Priebus. But don’t expect that to happen to Bannon, the other offender in the sights of senior staffers. “Bannon is the authentic connection to and representative of Trump’s base politics,” Green told me. “The one thing Trump fears most in the world is losing that connection and losing that support to his base, to his voters, and therefore, I don’t think he’s gonna push Bannon out.”
Listen to the podcast to hear Green discuss how Trump’s birther nonsense against then-President Barack Obama was the first sign that he was seriously thinking of running for president. And you have to hear why Trump’s show “The Apprentice” made him beloved in the African American community and why he willingly dashed it all to run for president.
“He opportunistically will circulate among any kind of racial demographic group,” Green said, “if he thinks it helps his brand.”