Steve Bannon doesn’t do subtle. So it’s no surprise that there’s nothing subtle about the new movie President Trump’s onetime political guru has produced to energize the Trump base for this year’s midterm elections.
It’s entitled “Trump at War,” and it’s an hour and 15 minutes of pure Trumpian adrenaline. It opens with a series of shots of Trump supporters being attacked by angry opponents, shifts to outtakes of Trump supporters proudly accepting the “deplorables” label bestowed by Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign, runs through a long series of angry ripostes at Trump detractors and praise of administration policy moves, and closes with dire warnings of the need to vote for Republicans in 2018 to head off efforts by liberals to impeach the president.
Mr. Bannon previewed the film for some Republican supporters in Dallas recently, but the big premiere is scheduled for Sept. 9—chosen because it is the second anniversary of the speech in which Mrs. Clinton used the “basket of deplorables” phrase. The location? The very club in Manhattan where Mrs. Clinton made the speech, which has been rented for the occasion.
.. Republicans face a Democratic party whose activists appear exceptionally motivated—to campaign, donate money and turn out in November.
Republicans need something to match that fervor. That something is the Trump base—and the best motivating tools are anger and fear.
.. In this case, that means specifically the fear that Special Counsel Robert Mueller, New York prosecutors and a Democratic Congress will conspire to kick Mr. Trump out of office. That’s why Republicans are talking about the specter of impeachment, not Democrats. Democrats know impeachment talk is a surefire way to motivate the other side.
.. Right now, independent voters are hard to read. Their sentiments have been shifting around a lot in Wall Street Journal/NBC News polling in recent months. As a general rule, they have a low regard for Mr. Trump personally and appear weary of the atmosphere of constant crisis around him. But the polling also indicates they increasingly like how Republicans are handling the economy, appreciate the GOP tax cut and think the party is changing the way things work in Washington.
That leaves moderate Republicans, of whom Mr. Bannon says simply: “We need RINOs.”
.. More conventional Republicans may be disdainful of Mr. Trump personally, but they also think the tax cuts, deregulatory policies and judicial nominations they like are imperiled if he goes down.
.. For the Trump base, impeachment talk is a source of outrage. Soft Republicans dislike it for less emotional, more practical reasons.