The Washington Post once referred to Rabbi Shmuly Boteach as “America’s most famous rabbi,” as you will learn once you arrive at Boteach’s Twitter page. This was in 2012, mind you, but it’s probably safe to assume that these particular rankings don’t see much churn. At that time, Boteach was running for elected office, hoping to parlay his time in the public eye (thanks to having written relationship books and starring in a reality show) into a seat in the House. Running as a Republican, he lost.
On Tuesday, Boteach — who bears a passing resemblance to a heavily-bearded Woody Harrelson — was at the White House for an Israel Independence Day celebration. Boteach is a prolific Twitter user, and it’s hard to imagine that there were many people he spoke to who didn’t end up sharing space with him in a photo that ended up being tweeted out. That includes Stephen K. Bannon, chief strategist and senior counselor to President Trump, who appears in two pictures with Boteach.
But it’s the background of those photos that has captured the public’s attention.
Behind Boteach and Bannon (and, in one photo, Boteach’s wife Debbie) is a handwritten whiteboard list that apparently shows the goals that Bannon is working toward at the White House. Broken out into categories, many are obscured by the people in the foreground. Some have check marks next to them, apparently meant to indicate completion. What’s more, it’s my understanding that this is a subset of the goals publicly presented in Bannon’s office, so we’re looking only at a subset of what Bannon hopes to achieve.
That said, though, what we can see is itself revealing — and, given the significance of Bannon’s role, worth documenting. So, let’s. Except for those things in italics, the text below is as written on Bannon’s whiteboards. Ellipses indicate obscured information. We’ve gone through and annotated the list with additional context.
Pledges on immigration
- Cancel all federal funding to sanctuary cities
- Suspend immigration from terror-prone regions
- Implement new extreme immigration vetting techniques
- Suspend the Syrian refugee program
- Create support program for victims of illegal immigration
- Expand and revitalize the popular 287(g) partnerships
- Issue detainers for all illegal immigrants who are arrested for any crime, and they will be placed into immediate immigration removal proceedings
- End “catch-and-release”
- Hire 5,000 more Border Patrol agents
- Restore the Secure Communities Program
- Triple the number of ICE agents
- Build the border wall and eventually make Mexico pay for it
- Sunset our visa laws so that Congress is forced to periodically revise and revisit them
- Finally complete the biometric entry-exit visa tra …
- Propose passage of Davis-Oliver bill
- Immediately terminate Obama’s “two illegal e …
- … to pass “Kate’s Law”
Pledges on elimination of ISIS/national defense
- … ce to defeat ISIS
- … pay more for joint defense
- … mit a plan to defeat ISIS
- … Tel Aviv to Jerusalem
- … Iran deal
Pledges on Obamacare
- Repeal and replace Obamacare
Pledges on tax reform
- Create a 10% repatriation tax
- Lower the corporate tax rate to 15%
- Eliminate the estate tax
- Eliminate the carried interest loophole
Pledges on Trade
- Withdraw …
- Negotiate …
- Renegotiate …
Pledges on …
- … ban on White House officials … of a foreign government
- 1. H.J. Res. 67 — CRA DOL … retirement plans
- 2. H.J. Res. 43 — CRA HHS regulation … Providers
That’s the list. It’s important to bear in mind that this is Stephen K. Bannon’s list, which is no doubt why immigration is far more extensively detailed than health care. (That Obamacare is reduced to “repeal and replace Obamacare” is a bit of tell in terms of why Trump generally has been indifferent to the nuances of the House-led replacement bill.) It’s also important to remember that this is just part of one list.
And, most important, it’s crucial to remember that Bannon was aware as the photo was taken that the list would end up on social media, meaning that he’s perfectly comfortable with your seeing it.