Friday, August 11, 2023

#223 / Are We All Bannonistas Now?

Charlie Sykes is an American political commentator who is currently editor-in-chief of The Bulwark. In the past, Sykes hosted a conservative talk show on WTMJ in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

That is NOT Sykes who is pictured above (you can view Sykes' picture below). Pictured above is Steve Bannon, a onetime (and probably continuing) associate of Donald J. Trump, our former president. Bannon's picture heads up my blog posting today because I want to quote from a "Morning Shots" bulletin from Sykes, which was published on August 8, 2023. Sykes' bulletin bore this headline: "We Are All Bannonistas Now." 

If you are like me, the prospect that our former president might be reelected in 2024 sends you into an agony of worried conjecture. Have you, for instance, noticed that one of Trump's supporters in the Senate, Tommy Tuberville, a former football coach, has put a "hold" on the promotion of something like 300 members of the Armed Forces? According to The Hill, not only is that true already, the list of blocked military appointments "will grow larger by the end of September, when the highest-profile vacancy would come up: Gen. Mark Milley must lawfully depart as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff." 

I doubt that I am the only one who has noted a parallel to the refusal of the Republican Senate, under Mitch McConnell, to allow President Obama to make a Supreme Court appointment, giving Mr. Trump, as soon as he was elected in 2016, the ability radically to reshape the Court. What if Mr. Trump were elected in 2024? If the entire hierarchy of the United States Military could be reconfigured by a reelected former president, a former president who clearly has dictatorial ambitions, that would definitely not be good!

At any rate, I wanted to alert those who do worry about the possible reelection of our former president that they might think it worthwhile to read what Sykes said in that August 8th bulletin: 

I bring you glad tidings. The BBC is reviving one of the greatest historical dramas ever: "I, Claudius,” a 12-part dramatization of Robert Graves’s classic and lusty account of the reign of the Roman Emperor Caligula and his successor. 
The BBC’s production, starring Derek Jacobi, is great television, because, as the Evening Express critic notes, “You don’t need to sex up the Rome of the Emperors; they did that for themselves.” 
The Rome of the Caesars was a full blooded (very) riposte to those who want to make ancient history dull. It really was sensational. The bit about Caligula intending to make his horse a consul: that’s in Suetonius. Or Livia, Augustus’s wife, poisoning candidates (and there were lots) who stood between her son, Tiberius, and the throne; in the sources. 
The Caligula revival also seems timely, don’t you think? 
On Monday, a federal judge reiterated his ruling that the former president of the United States raped E. Jean Carroll. In a ruling tossing Donald Trump’s countersuit against his victim, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote that the verdict in the original civil trial “establishes, as against Mr. Trump, the fact that Mr. Trump ‘raped’ her, albeit digitally rather than with his penis. Thus, it establishes against him the substantial truth of Ms. Carroll’s ‘rape’ allegations.” 
Meanwhile, the GOP frontrunner continues to lash out with promiscuous abandon. 
He . . . attacked Tanya Chutkan, the federal judge assigned to hear the case. He delivered angry speeches in Alabama and South Carolina. He jeered the U.S. Women’s National Team, blamed President Joe Biden for its early exit from the World Cup, and unintelligibly ridiculed former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (“She is a Wicked Witch whose husbands journey from hell starts and finishes with her. She is a sick & demented psycho who will someday live in HELL!”). 
“In some ways, Donald Trump’s mental state is more transparent than nearly any public figure’s,” writes David Graham. “He has no shame, little discretion, and ample channels to broadcast his feelings in real time.” 
Even so, the former president’s public behavior since Special Counsel Jack Smith indicted him last week suggests a man feeling cornered. This isn’t to say that Trump is cornered—his ability to escape tough situations makes him the envy of every house cat—but his handling of the case suggests a man rattled in a way he seldom has been before.
Rattled he may be, but he’s also intent on burning it all down. And he is not alone. 
Today’s NYT reports that as Trump amps up his attacks “on the justice system and other core institutions, his competitors for the Republican nomination have followed his lead.” 
Several have adopted much of Mr. Trump’s rhetoric sowing broad suspicion about the courts, the F.B.I., the military and schools. As they vie for support in a primary dominated by Mr. Trump, they routinely blast these targets in ways that might have been considered extraordinary, not to mention unthinkably bad politics, just a few years ago. 
Does this sound familiar to any of you?
Eight years ago, Steve Bannon, the many-shirted, hygienically challenged prince of grift declared: “I'm a Leninist. Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that's my goal, too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today's establishment.” 
Well, they are all Bannonists now. It has become the GOP agenda. 
Old and Busted Republicanism: Party of Law and Order. 
The New Bannonism: DEFUND THE FBI. 
To point this out is not Trump Derangement Syndrome — it is what Trump himself is promising rather explicitly. And he is bringing his entire party along.
Even the Wall Street Journal’s Gerard Baker sees the implications
The GOP now faces “a decision that has dramatic consequences for the rule of law.” Republicans, Baker writes in today’s paper, “must understand there is no turning back in the war between Mr. Trump and the Democrats on the battlefield of so-called justice—one he will prosecute with gusto if he is elected. There will be those who say that this is the inevitable path the party must take—a ruinous course, in my view. But Republican leaders should stop pretending they don’t know the consequences and decide whether they want to follow this perilous path.”

There is, of course, in what Sykes says, plenty of reason to engage in worried conjecture, as you contemplate what our former president wants to conjure - bringing back into our national conversation the kind of "burn it all down" proposals that Steve Bannon advocated when he was, briefly, an official advisor to the former president. 

As I read what Sykes is reporting to us, though, I actually had exactly the opposite reaction. I feel a bit relieved of my condition of agonized worry.  I do not think that the American public is in a "burn it all down" mood. While all those who care about the future of democratic self-government in the United States definitely need to take seriously the possibility that our former president might be reelected, and to work to make sure that doesn't happen, I am starting to think that all of his bluster and outrage is an indicator not of what is likely to happen, but is, quite the contrary, a pretty good reason to think that his efforts will, in the end, be roundly rejected, and that he will have to pass from the scene, unglorified by a reelection that he so desperately needs, and thus seeks. The comparison to Caligula is apt. 

"We," the American people, are not now of Bannon's persuasion - at least so I think. Posture and pretense is what our former president brings to this campaign season - and the only thing he has to offer. 

I'm not buying it. 

Let's all work to make sure that the vast majority of our fellow citizens don't buy it, either!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comment!