If there were ever a political equivalent of the sentiment “She think she cute!” it is undoubtedly Steve Bannon. Last night, President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist gave his first televised interview to 60 Minutes. The main takeaway from Bannon’s often contentious exchanges with interviewer Charlie Rose is something most of us had long concluded: Bannon takes himself incredibly seriously. An overly caffeinated man in love with his own legend may make for an interesting interview, but unfortunately, Bannon is not nearly as enchanting a political figure as he thinks he is.
Ever since Bannon stepped in as the Trump campaign’s CEO (what that means is still unclear), he has been sold to the masses as some sort of political Svengali. Bannon clearly buys into his own mythology, describing himself as a “street fighter” working toward an economic populism and someone dedicated to eradicating our present political system, which has long been marred by elites with endless cash flow driving the interests of both major American political parties. Of course, this is a crock of shit, but let’s pretend for a few before we gnaw through Bannon’s brand of nonsense.
According to Bannon, “The Republican establishment is trying to nullify the 2016 election.” Why? “They do not want Donald Trump’s populist, economic, nationalist agenda implemented.” When confronted about who exactly he meant, Bannon was direct, immediately naming Mitch McConnell and, “to a degree,” Paul Ryan. Bannon claims that near the end of McConnell’s first meeting with the then-president-elect at Trump Tower, the Senate majority leader said, “I don’t wanna hear anymore ‘drain the swamp’ talk.”
As for the swamp, Bannon notes that it’s been 50 years in the making and is a successful business model that cannot be eliminated in two terms. Instead, Bannon argues, it will take 20 years to topple it, and that’s only after folks relentlessly go after it. Bannon did acknowledge that the “original sin of the administration” was to embrace the very Republican establishment both Bannon and Sweet Potato Saddam claim to loathe.
Yet 45 did so working under the realization, “I need to govern.” We see how well that’s gone thus far. As for the GOP failure to repeal Obamacare, Bannon said it was Speaker of the House Ryan who promised a repeal-and-replace deal on 45’s desk by Easter. After that, it would be tax reform by August and, by December, an infrastructure bill. However, Bannon now realizes of our current health care system, “You’re not going to be able to totally repeal it.”
Spoiler: None of those other things are going to happen, either.
Still, when it comes to the failures of this administration, Bannon chided Rose by claiming, “You’re holding him to an unfair standard.” Much like 45, Bannon greets failure by immediately pointing in everyone else’s direction. It’s not their fault; it’s Republican leadership’s fault; it’s the system at large’s fault; it is the media’s fault; it’s the fault of every other person and any other entity one can think of but theirs.
The only subject in which Bannon admitted fault was the firing of FBI head James Comey. Bannon would not single out Jared Kushner directly, but he did say just enough to make it apparent it was Kushner’s thinking that led to what Bannon considers the “worst mistake in modern political history.”
That aside, the rest of Bannon’s shots were direct. On those Republicans who criticize 45’s national security strategy:
That’s the geniuses of the Bush administration. I hold these people in contempt, total and complete contempt ... They’re idiots, and they’ve gotten us in this situation, and they question a good man like Donald Trump.
Bannon specifically named Condoleezza Rice, Brent Scowcroft and Colin Powell.
Moreover, Politico reported that 45 decided to first interview Rex Tillerson for the secretary of state job at the recommendation of Rice and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. I’m sure none of them would recommend toying with nuclear war by way of Twitter. Speaking of Twitter, Bannon still fancies how 45 uses it. “He knows he’s speaking directly to the people who put him in office when he uses Twitter,” Bannon claims. “[Chief of staff John Kelly’s] not going to be able to control it, either, because it’s Donald Trump.”
Bannon also took shots at those who still remain in the administration—including Gary Cohn. Cohn, who is Jewish, did not care for the way 45 handled the events in Charlottesville, Va., and the way he supported neo-Nazis and white supremacists. To Bannon, though, “If you’re going to break, resign.”
When it was time for one of Bannon’s favorite topics—immigration—he responded as expected. Though he claims to be worried about the Republicans losing the House over 45’s handling of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Bannon is clear on how this ought to go: “As the work permits end, they have to self-deport. No path to citizenship. No path to green card. No amnesty.”
When confronted about immigration and its history in America, Bannon chided Rose once again, calling the notion that “everyone is an immigrant except for Native Americans” a “leftist” approach. “Charlie, that’s beneath you,” Bannon claimed.
Bannon, a Catholic, then disavowed his own church for its pro-DACA, pro-immigration stance when asked about it, arguing that the church only operates from that space because immigrants fill the pews as Americans turn their backs on the church, given its mishandling of child-molestation charges at the hands of priests for decades.
Bannon believes “economic nationalism is what this country was built on,” and that includes “nationality, every race, every sexual orientation” because “as long as you are an American citizen, you are a part of this.”
As for Bannon’s own charges of racism, he said, “I was raised in a desegregated neighborhood.” Funny—he didn’t even bother pretending to have black friends, going instead with the notion that living around a few of “the blacks” is enough to squash accusations of racism. Bannon barked that he will not be lectured by “limousine liberals,” which is quite the interesting retort from a man who worked in Hollywood and for Goldman Sachs. And naturally, he described the Russian investigation as a “farce.”
As for this colorblind economic nationalism, Bannon’s is just business-class bigotry. He may not want to expel nonwhites from the country, but he does want us all to fall in line with his way of thinking. Tolerating people under rigid terms does not make one without prejudice; it merely gussies up a bit, like spraying Febreze over a dirty shirt instead of simply washing it.
In a bonus clip that aired online, Bannon had the nerve to describe Hillary Clinton as “not very bright.”
The problem with Bannon is that he continues to operate under the unfortunate perception that he and the candidate he worked for are special. While it’s true enough that they are anomalies in that they are novices who managed to get to the White House on their first real try, much of that has to do with working within the parameters of the very system they claim to be so against. Republicans have spent decades paving the way for their current critical-thinking-challenged head of the party. Likewise, while Bannon bemoans K Street lobbyists and the like, he is largely funded by the billionaire Mercer family.
One wonders why Bannon was not asked directly about the Mercer family. After all, they fund his site and have poured a whole lot of money into various political candidates—including the current president, who only hired Bannon after Rebekah Mercer reportedly “pushed” him to. Both 45 and Bannon are mediocre white men magnified by institutional racism and the wealth of billionaires who fund their foolishness.
Throughout the entire interview, all I could hear was former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci’s infamous New Yorker interview in which he pronounced:
I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock. I’m not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the President. I’m here to serve the country.
Indeed, Bannon’s interview was like watching someone masturbate. It was watching a fake-ass Archie Bunker do a drag act of a more competent and more accomplished political thinker. Much like Issa Rae on Insecure, I couldn’t wait to grab a towel and wash that shit off.
P.S. A photographer claims that CBS intentionally tried to make Bannon look bad on camera. Bannon’s ugly—inside and out—should all be attributed to the man himself. He looks like a cold sore on a ghost, and that has absolutely nothing to do with CBS. If anyone cares that much, go secure some Fenty Beauty for him and pray for a miracle.