But after doing all this reporting, we think what Bannon does is often tactical. (40 min)
.. Bannon and the Mercers actively supported with publicity and money people tied to white supremacists. Like, maybe he doesn’t really agree with those white supremacists who helped with the rise of people like Milo Yiannopoulos, the rise of Breitbart News and the rise of Donald Trump. Maybe those people are just numbers to him. I mean, I guess if you’re down with white supremacists, you’re down with white supremacists and no one should care why you’re down with them. But if you are tactical, that means you can change.
.. You wanted to be the Leni Riefenstahl for George Bush, then you wanted to be the Leni Riefenstahl for the Republican Party. Now you want to blow up the Republican Party. The world moves fast. The attention span is not long. I mean, this is a guy who’s invested in Biosphere 2, nasal spray, the San Diego Chicken and “World Of Warcraft.” Like, maybe after he gets tired of hashtag #WAR, Steve Bannon will move on to something else.
On CNN in 2015, I said: “If Hillary Clinton paid somebody to try to destroy the Republican brand, they would do exactly what Donald Trump has done.”
.. In May 2016, I warned: “Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama cannot destroy the conservative brand. Donald Trump can. Donald Trump can redefine what it means to be a Republican and what it means to be in a conservative. In a way, Trump is more dangerous to conservatism than Obama and Hillary because he is posing as a conservative.”
.. Trump has had six months to learn the job, improve, and advance a conservative agenda. He’s 0-for-3. What is more, if even his new chief of staff Gen. John Kelly cannot fix this mess—and it is now incredibly clear that even he cannot perform miracles!—it won’t be fixed. At some point, it’s time to pull the plug. That time is now.What exactly do I mean by “pull the plug”? These three things
- As former McConnell chief of staff Josh Homes suggests, Republicans should “reassert an identity without Donald Trump.” What this means to me is that Republican politicians should pursue their own agenda, independent of concern about Trump’s plans or legacy. In other words, act as if he doesn’t exist—as if he’s irrelevant.
- All good-thinking conservatives should now commit to supporting a viable and serious primary challenge to Donald Trump in the GOP primary. This should not be a perfunctory exercise, but rather, a full-throated attempt to replace him as the nominee. Further, where you stand on this should be considered a defining moment. Personally, I would nominate Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska as the kind of person conservatives should back.
- It’s time to quit making excuses for Trump apologists and enablers. Although I always try to be civil to everyone, those who defend the indefensible do not deserve our respect. Further, aside from chief of staff John Kelly, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and national security adviser H.R. McMaster—people we should be begging to stay on duty—anyone who continues to serve Donald Trump’s political agenda (and here, I would also grant a waiver for serious professionals working for, say, Health and Human Services) have cast their lot.