News & Politics

Bannon on His 'Revolution': Never Mind

Jan. 24, 2013 Executive Producer Stephen Bannon poses at the premiere of "Sweetwater" during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP, File)

Donald Trump’s former chief campaign strategist Steve Bannon promised to destroy the Republican establishment in order  to advance the president’s agenda. To that end, he backed several primary candidates running against establishment politicians, most notably, Alabama’s Roy Moore. Moore lost, almost all of Bannon’s other candidates lost, and he slipped into irrelevance.

But you can’t keep Bannon down. He told the New York Times that the time was now to embrace the establishment; “the anti-establishment thing is kind of a luxury we can’t afford right now,” he said.

“People are starting to realize that the anti-establishment thing is kind of a luxury we can’t afford right now,” said Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist who six months ago said it was his objective to see Mr. McConnell removed as the Senate Republican leader.

That effort has been put on hold. And Mr. Bannon’s rebellion has considerably smaller ambitions than it did six months ago, when he was trying to recruit challengers to every Republican incumbent senator up for re-election this year, with the exception of Ted Cruz of Texas.

Of those Mr. Bannon worked most closely with, just two are still running: Mr. McDaniel and Kelli Ward in Arizona, who is competing in a three-way primary for the seat that opened up after Senator Jeff Flake announced his retirement.

Larry O’Connor writing in Washington Times:

It’s a fascinating and somewhat problematic shift of message and brand for the man who defined the “drain the swamp” persona of the Trump campaign. After vowing to unseat Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader, Bannon now agrees that maybe the GOP establishment is just fine if it means keeping a majority.

The “mastermind” behind Trump’s victory (if you believe Bannon’s own self-serving press leaks) has had a change of heart, that’s for sure.

Establishment publications are already claiming victory for Bannon’s flip-flop and they deserve a little glee in witnessing their bete noire’s cummuppance. But the real danger for Bannon is not the victory he seems to have handed his opponents, it’s the question of his own political relevance.

If Steve Bannon doesn’t stand for “Burn the GOP establishment to the ground” anymore, then what does he stand for?

If he’s not essential in reshaping and purging the Republican Party on behalf of Donald Trump and Trumpism, then what is he useful for?

At this point, why does anyone need Steve Bannon?

In answer to those questions, Steve Bannon stands for… Steve Bannon. He now cuts something of a pathetic figure, having been banished from the White House, Breitbart, and almost all GOP campaigns. Whatever influence he thought he had, or that he told people he had, is gone.

This makes him useless. His “revolution” — such as it was — never got beyond the Alabama Senate primary where a severely damaged Roy Moore lost a slam-dunk race to a Democrat no one had ever heard of.

But we need Steve Bannon. We need him to serve as an object lesson to Republicans and the right to show that a political party must have coherence if it is to be successful. The rage and resentment Bannon tried to fan against Republican candidates not of his choosing only hurt the party in the long run and made Bannon into a court jester.