In his 60 Minutes interview last Sunday with Charlie Rose, Steve Bannon went into full attack mode against the Republican Party establishment. Of course he hates the Democratic one as well, but it’s Republicans who are in his crosshairs.
Describing himself as “a street fighter,” Bannon claims he will be of more help to Donald Trump in carrying out his populist-nationalist agenda outside of the administration than in it. His message sounds like what he told me back in November of 2013, if less apocalyptic:
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.
In this interview, he told Charlie Rose:
The Republican establishment is trying to nullify the 2016 election. That’s a brutal fact we have to face.
He knew that Mitch McConnell was not on Trump’s side when he attended the first meeting between Trump and McConnell at Trump Tower after Trump becam president. McConnell told Bannon:
I don’t wanna hear any more of this “Drain the Swamp” talk.
The Republicans, Bannon warned:
… were going to be held accountable if they do not support the president of the United States. Right now there’s no accountability.
In my talk with Bannon, he told me that he was the East Coast coordinator of all the Tea Party groups. His plan was to get its candidates nominated on the Republican ticket, and then to back campaigns that they could win. Then, Bannon said, when elected they would be held accountable to fight for the agenda he and the Tea Party stood for. If they didn’t:
We would force them out of office and oppose them when the next election for their seats came around.
Bannon wants to use similar tactics today against the Republican leaders and congressmen and senators who do not support Trump, do not believe in his nationalist and populist agenda, and who are, according to Bannon, part of the “global elite.” In the past, one of Bannon’s major targets was Paul Ryan. In the Republican primary in Wisconsin, Bannon and others stood behind a candidate they selected to run against him. They lost, but were successful in Virginia where they ousted the powerful congressman Eric Cantor. However, the victory there of David Brat, a previously unknown college professor, took place in very special circumstances. The area Cantor represented was getting fed up with him. He seemed to be running more fundraisers and dealing with national Republican problems and not representing his constituents.
Now, Politico reveals that Bannon and company are:
… planning a slate of primary challenges against Republican senators, potentially undermining the party’s prospects in 2018 and further inflaming tensions between GOP leaders and the White House.
Republican leaders fear it will be a repeat of the Brat v. Cantor strategy:
[This] will drain millions of dollars from the party’s coffers to take on Democrats in the general election. McConnell has repeatedly expressed concern to the White House about the danger primaries pose to his members, stressing that it could imperil his narrow four-seat majority.
However, Bannon and those who share his ideology, joined by likeminded members of Congress and the Senate, are persisting in this strategy. They favor Matt Salmon, who is challenging Jeff Flake in the Arizona primary, and are thinking of targeting Sen. Bob Corker and Sen. Roger Wicker. Their strategy might be winning in Arizona, because with a few exceptions, Flake’s Senate GOP colleagues have not rushed in to support him. They may privately back Flake, but are reluctant to be the Bannon group’s next target.
Politico advises watching the results of the September 26 special primary in Alabama for the Senate seat previously held by Jeff Sessions. McConnell favors Sen. Luther Strange, who is temporarily holding the seat, while Bannon favors State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. Moore is most known as the judge who refused to remove the plaque of the Ten Commandments from a public display when ordered to do so by the U.S. Supreme Court. Bannon told Judicial Watch that the primary is:
… [a] defining battle between the conservative base and GOP establishment.
Bannon is assured of getting the money for his campaigns, because evidently Robert Mercer, a follower of Bannon and the major conservative donor to Trump forces, has made it known he will give millions of dollars for attacks on GOP incumbents. Mercer’s money is being matched by money given to the GOP establishment figures by billionaire Robert Rowling. He is providing funds for Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, who is being challenged by Bannon’s candidate Danny Tarkanian. As of now, others are rallying around Heller, whom mogul Steve Wynn endorsed before a Nevada GOP dinner.
What these antics mean is that a full-fledged war is about to be undertaken, one that could have the effect Mitch McConnell fears. We could see the collapse of the GOP and the election to office of Democrats who, without opposition division, would have had no chance to win seats that are considered safely GOP. Also, this occurs just as the Democrats are moving far left.
One must wonder why Steve Bannon, the Breitbart crew, and the intellectuals at American Greatness want such a fight. I know they despise “the establishment,” but do they really want the GOP to lose its Senate majority?