Steve Bannon, who undeniably helped Donald Trump win the presidency, and became his chief strategist, has tendered his resignation/been fired.
While Bannon was a controversial figure, much of what was written about him and the sleepy website he turned into an influential phenomenon, Breitbart, was ridiculous, had no basis in fact and was laughable to anyone who spent any time reading its contents or listening to its broadcasts on satellite radio which Mr. Bannon often hosted before the campaign consumed him.
Andrew Breitbart, who started the site and for whom it is named, grew up in affluent Brentwood, CA (made infamous by OJ Simpson), biologically Irish American, but adopted as an infant and raised by his Jewish parents. He was raised in typical Democratic Jewish politics and credits the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings as his political epiphany. He helped develop both The Huffington Post and The Drudge Report and decided to set out to develop his own media brand that would be “unapologetically pro-freedom and pro-Israel”. He was sick of what he perceived as the “anti-Israel bias in the mainstream media and J Street”.
He was a visible figure in the Tea Party movement’s earliest days and his fearless oratory, particularly when challenging the infallibility of the mainstream media, seems to have predicted the dismal future of today where America’s elections are controlled by Russian hackers and white supremacists, having lived in the backwoods of the South for fifty years, have dusted off their hoods to resurrect the Confederacy.
Bannon assumed the reins of Breitbart after his tragic death. He opened a London bureau headed by Raheem Kassam, a Muslim who challenged Islamism and the EU’s open borders; a Jerusalem bureau which fearlessly covered the Palestinian “knife intifada”; and a Texas bureau which covered the border wars and the graphic trail of violence wrought by Mexican Cartels.
The Invention of the “Alt-Right”
But where was this “godfather of the alt-right” meme that not only gained traction in the mainstream media but became the permanent suffix whenever “Breitbart” or “Bannon” was mentioned in the press? No one had ever heard mention of something called the “alt-right” before, but it sure sounded much worse and more radical than, for example, “neo-con”, a pejorative phrase that had become so in vogue during the George W. Bush years to describe a new imperialist Americanism, if you will, an almost hyper-Reaganism. Whether stated or not, it was implicitly associated with Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, two senior Cabinet members with ties to Bush’s father, who were probably really calling the shots because George the Younger was such an idiot!
“Alt-right” sounded even scarier because the media started attaching this label to people like Richard Spencer, a genuinely wacky white supremacist who looked like a relatively normal dude until he got himself one of those Peaky Blinders haircuts. I’m not downplaying the danger of his rhetoric, but it was almost as if he had to make some changes in his physicality to adopt the pose of a race-baiting neo-Nazi. He proudly adopted this alt-right appellation since it brought him mainstream media attention and inferred that he had a relationship with Breitbart/Bannon that is a complete fabrication.
Prior to Bannon’s resignation/firing, I was in the “Obama’s Hometown”, the Great Liberal Echochamber of Chicago. I was asked about Bannon’s racist views, the anti-Semitic positions embraced by Breitbart and how I could possibly defend all that.
Have you ever read anything in Breitbart, I asked. Did you know they were vocal proponents of moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem? Did you know that they have advocated a top to bottom re-examination of American taxpayer payments to “martyrs’ families”? They cover the hateful indoctrination taking place in Palestinian schools that is ignored by the mainstream media. Are you now about to tell me that Sebastian Gorka is actually a shadow Nazi because of his mysterious lapel pin?
Breitbart’s coverage of the Middle East is — if anything — positively biased in Israel’s favor, and the website has remained true to Andrew Breitbart’s vision of acting as a counterweight to the negative press Israel often receives at the hands of a left-wing-dominated media which sucks up Palestinian victimhood, regardless of the circumstances, the recent smuggling of weapons onto the Temple Mount being a prime example.
Kushner and McMaster vs. Bannon
There is speculation that Bannon’s undoing, aside from his own inflexibility, might have been at the hands of Jared Kushner and Gen. McMaster. This is not difficult to conceive. With the departure of Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff and Gen. Kelly as his replacement, it was becoming evident that a strain of Bush globalism was creeping back into the White House.
As an external observer, it struck me quite oddly that Jared Kushner, wealthy New York real estate developer (quite like his father-in-law), senior adviser to the president (by way of marriage), with a portfolio that seems to have him leading the American effort to find an avenue to a two-state solution, placing Rex Tillerson firmly in the back seat, could not create anything but conflict with Steve Bannon.
Generals Kelly and McMaster pushed Bannon away from the NSC and his visceral mistrust of the Palestinian Authority, whose continuing refusal to acknowledge the Jewishness of Israel, reinforced by the sympathetic powers that dominate the United Nations, riled him to oppose the interminable outreach to Abbas.
Bannon knew that Abbas was lying to Trump’s face — and to the American people — on May 3, in Washington, DC, when he said, “I affirm to you that we are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren, in a culture of peace.”
Trump, Kushner, and McMaster live in a fool’s paradise.
Yesterday, Fatah announced that “it won’t recognize Israel and won’t agree to give up a single grain of sand from the land of Palestine. It will continue down the road of jihad and resistance until the expulsion of the occupation.” I’m sure the youth, children, and grandchildren are completely sheltered from this messaging.
Bannon sought to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, sending an unequivocal message to the Palestinians and the Arab world that the capital was belatedly acknowledged and would be protected by the most powerful nation on earth. He further sought to isolate Mr. Abbas through vehicles like The Taylor Force Act, cutting off funding for terrorist activities that directly threatened our most reliable ally in the region.
Bannon and Breitbart never wavered in these views and an occasional drop into the site would have made this obvious. To even suggest there was a subliminal racist, supremacist, anti-Semitic theme to their coverage of the events of the day is like trying to get me to believe that James Comey, Ace Director of the FBI, really believed the Fusion GPS “dossier” was credible.
Trump and his supporters will miss Bannon’s gruff candor, his refreshingly limited TV appearances, and the welcome self-destruction of Anthony Scaramucci whose hubris delivered a 10-day career in the West Wing.