Will Bannon or the GOP Establishment Prevail? The Internal Fight Deepens
The fight against the protectionist and anti-globalist Steve Bannon is one worth having. As of now, Bannon and the Breitbart wing of the GOP appear to be winning, but there is mounting opposition to him within Republican circles. GOP strategist Rick Wilson writes in The Daily Beast:
Steve Bannon is like ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He's funded by billionaires, he has a shallow, catchy message that appeals to marginally-educated fanatics, and until the good guys start dropping JDAMs on his people, his skill at asymmetric warfare seems formidable. Right now, the good guys are grounded from fear and inertia.
But maybe they aren’t. A new GOP affiliated super-PAC has been formed, in a move that the Washington Post calls “open warfare” against Bannon on the part of Mitch McConnell. The paper’s writers explain:
More than a year ahead of the 2018 congressional contests, a super PAC aligned with McConnell (R-Ky.) revealed plans to attack Bannon personally as it works to protect GOP incumbents facing uphill primary fights. The effort reflects the growing concern of Republican lawmakers over the rise of anti-establishment forces and comes amid escalating frustration over President Trump’s conduct, which has prompted a handful of lawmakers to publicly criticize the president.
The problem is that both McConnell’s and Bannon’s allies claim that they are the true followers of Trump. From McConnell’s standpoint, Bannon’s decision to challenge GOP incumbents risks major Republican losses in the midterm elections, which, if they occur, would flip the House to the Democrats' side. McConnell must, therefore, support current incumbents and oppose the insurgents. When McConnell says he and Trump stand as one, Bannon and his supporters laugh heartedly -- knowing that it is their own faction that echoes Trump’s own tweets and arguments.
The new super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, is going about their attacks on Bannon in the wrong way. For example, instead of arguing for the importance and benefits of maintaining the post-World War II international order led by the United States and its allies, they seem content with only attacking Steve Bannon personally.
Perhaps they believe taking up such issues would be too difficult to do in short TV ad spots. Instead, as the Post reporters put it:
[T]he McConnell-allied Senate Leadership Fund (SLF) will highlight Bannon’s hard-line populism and attempt to link him to white nationalism to discredit him and the candidates he will support. It will also boost candidates with traditional GOP profiles and excoriate those tied to Bannon, with plans to spend millions and launch a heavy social media presence in some states.
They are also claiming, as they did in recent tweets, that Steve Bannon is anti-Semitic.
For evidence, the SLF reproduced in a tweet the headline from an old article in the New York Daily News: