The Strange Rage of Steve Bannon

It was Karl Rove who brought Steve Bannon and me together, and it was the book WTF? How Karl Rove and The Establishment Lost...Again, that motivated Bannon to enlist yours truly to Breitbart.  Bannon even created a series, which he entitled "Rove-Stupid," designed to highlight the failures and foibles of the GOP establishment, and gave me full editorial control.  While Rove is old news at this point, the relevance to today will be evident shortly. 

We shared a deep antipathy towards Rove and the GOPe, as Bannon and I both knew that the Rove mindset was emblematic of what ails the GOP establishment.  Amid all the commonality of antipathy about Rove and the establishment, however, there was a noticeable distinction.  Bannon's hatred for Rove was far more personal than mine, and he wanted to destroy the man.  That would've suited me just fine, but my infuriation with Rove is based on how he and the establishment had led the Republican Party further away from the principles of Reagan and conservatism, and to defeat.

So what does this have to do with today?

It is a small but pertinent window into the complex, passionate warrior who was drummed out of the West Wing Friday.  Bannon is, without a doubt, the most focused person I have ever met, and one of the smartest.  He and I never crossed swords directly, but the reputation he has for ruthlessness is easy for me to believe.

Anger Trumps All

This is why it's painful for me to come to the conclusion that for all his success, brilliance, and love of country, rage and anger seem within Bannon to "trump" the desire for actual solutions.

This outrage has dominated the entire editorial content of Breitbart over the past two years, including their core readership, as demonstrated by their comments.  It was evident at Trump rallies.  It is still evident today, and no doubt, it will be in the comments below.

This didn't make sense to me at first.  Anger can power a political movement, but it shouldn't guide one.  This is not because of any pearl-clutching hesitancy either.  It's because being guided by anger so often runs one off the cliff.  Exhibit A: the Democratic Party and the left.

Really Smart People

Consider: Bannon is close to the billionaire Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah.  Mercer is undeniably "Rain Man" brilliant, as his hedge fund Renaissance Technologies has apparently cracked the code on investing like no other in history, and his data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica has done the same with electoral communications. Bannon is associated with Cambridge, by the way, and he generated a lot of his wealth from his days at Goldman Sachs.

Trump would not be president today without the efforts of Bannon and the Mercers – not solely, but definitively.

These folks have dazzling logarithmic intelligence, and they certainly understand the complexities of economics and the billions of hourly decisions on buying, selling, hiring, firing, and so on that make it so.  Mercer and Compnay understand Adam Smith's invisible hand in these matters perhaps better than anyone on the planet, and Renaissance's performance proves it.

That said, Cambridge Analytica's work clearly told them that a winning message would have to pretend that economics was much simpler than it really is.  It also made it clear that anger was the coin of the realm in American politics 2015-16.  The result was a rage-filled campaign of over simplified binary choices, both economically and politically, and damnation of anyone not 100% on board.

Without a doubt, Cambridge Analytica dictated much of Breitbart's content, not to mention the Trump campaign's messaging.

For example, the Trump campaign message's tenor was that every international trade transaction was one where some dumb American was getting duped by the wily Chinese or Mexicans.  It assumed that every trade negotiator in our nation's history was either corrupt or incompetent. It assumed that every outsourced job cost a willing American a job on a one to one basis.  It assumed the same about every illegal alien job.  It assumed that making America great again means buying only what we make here.  It assumed that every outsourcing decision was based solely on greed, and it also assumed that the end user consumers never benefited, denying the very idea of supply and demand.

There is a nugget of truth in some of the above, but there is absolute truth in precisely none of  it.  As the Geico ad says, "that's not how this works...that's not how any of this works."  Bannon and Mercer both made a ton of money off knowing this.

Politically, the juggernaut designed by Bannon, Mercer, and Trump himself insisted that any and all opposition to Trump was from someone partial to Hillary or the Republican establishment.  It assumed that Trump was a full-fledged anti-establishment warrior, even as he had preferred Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney, while many present-day Trump-supporters were opposing Mitch and Mitt.

We were told that no one who supports trade can possibly do so with any other motivation other than globalist greed, and ditto anyone who outsources any job for any reason.  We know this because the keyboard cowboys told us online – many from their Apple products made in China!  Irony was a victim of this election season, too.

The campaign message assumed that Trump had never supported with his money or his public persona many of the policies and politicians that have greatly damaged the country, even though he has for many decades.  Andrew Breitbart knew this, and he publicly mocked Trump over it.  Bannon pretends not to know this, but surely he does.

This is what miffs me about Steve Bannon, who has said he wants to "burn it all down."

Bannon's and Breitbart's campaign against Paul Ryan is one example.  Trump needed Ryan more than Ryan needed Trump.  Ryan won his district by about 130,000 votes, while Trump won the state by less than 23,000.  Trump's margin was generated by Ryan's voters.  Literally.  Without Ryan, Trump loses Wisconsin, and without Wisconsin, Hillary is in the White House.  Reality is what it is, and understanding it doesn't mean you like Ryan!

Again, I cannot believe that intellectually, Bannon didn't understand this about Wisconsin.  He's too smart, yet his personal hatred of Ryan trumps his understanding of the symbiotic relationship – and, apparently, his wishes that Trump win Wisconsin!

This is unsettling rage.  This is self-defeating.

I had written early on in the primary campaign that many conservatives had placed their anger (and it was justified) over the truth of reality.  We were all angry; it's just that some of us were guided by a sober understanding of reality and fueled by anger, while others were guided by their anger.

Bannon has that sober understanding, yet he let the anger guide him anyway, and he still does.  He now says he is going to engage in "thermonuclear" war to help Trump and to destroy the establishment.  He's still trying to burn it down.  Uh, Steve: If it burns down, your man will get the blame.  He is in the White House.

Meanwhile, Bannon assigns no blame to Trump on anything.  Bannon wants to fight the remaining White House staff, all of whom were chosen by Trump, and Trump is still supporting McConnell's shill Luther Strange in Alabama.  I'm sorry: if McConnell, the GOPe, and liberal Democrats in the White House are the problem, then Trump owns much of the blame for choosing them. 

Anger at others won't allow that reality to sink in.  Meanwhile, Bannon wants to help Trump succeed while destroying Trump's party. 

This cannot happen.  That's now how this works.  That's not how any of this works.  If Ryan, McConnell, and the GOP are destroyed now, the Trump presidency will fail.  If he fails, the leftist Antifa SJW radical Democratic Party will take over, and the nation will be effectively destroyed.

Is pandering to our anger really worth that?  No, and certainly Steve Bannon must understand that.

Edmund Wright is contributor to American Thinker, Breitbart, Newsmax TV, and Talk Radio Network.

It was Karl Rove who brought Steve Bannon and me together, and it was the book WTF? How Karl Rove and The Establishment Lost...Again, that motivated Bannon to enlist yours truly to Breitbart.  Bannon even created a series, which he entitled "Rove-Stupid," designed to highlight the failures and foibles of the GOP establishment, and gave me full editorial control.  While Rove is old news at this point, the relevance to today will be evident shortly. 

We shared a deep antipathy towards Rove and the GOPe, as Bannon and I both knew that the Rove mindset was emblematic of what ails the GOP establishment.  Amid all the commonality of antipathy about Rove and the establishment, however, there was a noticeable distinction.  Bannon's hatred for Rove was far more personal than mine, and he wanted to destroy the man.  That would've suited me just fine, but my infuriation with Rove is based on how he and the establishment had led the Republican Party further away from the principles of Reagan and conservatism, and to defeat.

So what does this have to do with today?

It is a small but pertinent window into the complex, passionate warrior who was drummed out of the West Wing Friday.  Bannon is, without a doubt, the most focused person I have ever met, and one of the smartest.  He and I never crossed swords directly, but the reputation he has for ruthlessness is easy for me to believe.

Anger Trumps All

This is why it's painful for me to come to the conclusion that for all his success, brilliance, and love of country, rage and anger seem within Bannon to "trump" the desire for actual solutions.

This outrage has dominated the entire editorial content of Breitbart over the past two years, including their core readership, as demonstrated by their comments.  It was evident at Trump rallies.  It is still evident today, and no doubt, it will be in the comments below.

This didn't make sense to me at first.  Anger can power a political movement, but it shouldn't guide one.  This is not because of any pearl-clutching hesitancy either.  It's because being guided by anger so often runs one off the cliff.  Exhibit A: the Democratic Party and the left.

Really Smart People

Consider: Bannon is close to the billionaire Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah.  Mercer is undeniably "Rain Man" brilliant, as his hedge fund Renaissance Technologies has apparently cracked the code on investing like no other in history, and his data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica has done the same with electoral communications. Bannon is associated with Cambridge, by the way, and he generated a lot of his wealth from his days at Goldman Sachs.

Trump would not be president today without the efforts of Bannon and the Mercers – not solely, but definitively.

These folks have dazzling logarithmic intelligence, and they certainly understand the complexities of economics and the billions of hourly decisions on buying, selling, hiring, firing, and so on that make it so.  Mercer and Compnay understand Adam Smith's invisible hand in these matters perhaps better than anyone on the planet, and Renaissance's performance proves it.

That said, Cambridge Analytica's work clearly told them that a winning message would have to pretend that economics was much simpler than it really is.  It also made it clear that anger was the coin of the realm in American politics 2015-16.  The result was a rage-filled campaign of over simplified binary choices, both economically and politically, and damnation of anyone not 100% on board.

Without a doubt, Cambridge Analytica dictated much of Breitbart's content, not to mention the Trump campaign's messaging.

For example, the Trump campaign message's tenor was that every international trade transaction was one where some dumb American was getting duped by the wily Chinese or Mexicans.  It assumed that every trade negotiator in our nation's history was either corrupt or incompetent. It assumed that every outsourced job cost a willing American a job on a one to one basis.  It assumed the same about every illegal alien job.  It assumed that making America great again means buying only what we make here.  It assumed that every outsourcing decision was based solely on greed, and it also assumed that the end user consumers never benefited, denying the very idea of supply and demand.

There is a nugget of truth in some of the above, but there is absolute truth in precisely none of  it.  As the Geico ad says, "that's not how this works...that's not how any of this works."  Bannon and Mercer both made a ton of money off knowing this.

Politically, the juggernaut designed by Bannon, Mercer, and Trump himself insisted that any and all opposition to Trump was from someone partial to Hillary or the Republican establishment.  It assumed that Trump was a full-fledged anti-establishment warrior, even as he had preferred Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney, while many present-day Trump-supporters were opposing Mitch and Mitt.

We were told that no one who supports trade can possibly do so with any other motivation other than globalist greed, and ditto anyone who outsources any job for any reason.  We know this because the keyboard cowboys told us online – many from their Apple products made in China!  Irony was a victim of this election season, too.

The campaign message assumed that Trump had never supported with his money or his public persona many of the policies and politicians that have greatly damaged the country, even though he has for many decades.  Andrew Breitbart knew this, and he publicly mocked Trump over it.  Bannon pretends not to know this, but surely he does.

This is what miffs me about Steve Bannon, who has said he wants to "burn it all down."

Bannon's and Breitbart's campaign against Paul Ryan is one example.  Trump needed Ryan more than Ryan needed Trump.  Ryan won his district by about 130,000 votes, while Trump won the state by less than 23,000.  Trump's margin was generated by Ryan's voters.  Literally.  Without Ryan, Trump loses Wisconsin, and without Wisconsin, Hillary is in the White House.  Reality is what it is, and understanding it doesn't mean you like Ryan!

Again, I cannot believe that intellectually, Bannon didn't understand this about Wisconsin.  He's too smart, yet his personal hatred of Ryan trumps his understanding of the symbiotic relationship – and, apparently, his wishes that Trump win Wisconsin!

This is unsettling rage.  This is self-defeating.

I had written early on in the primary campaign that many conservatives had placed their anger (and it was justified) over the truth of reality.  We were all angry; it's just that some of us were guided by a sober understanding of reality and fueled by anger, while others were guided by their anger.

Bannon has that sober understanding, yet he let the anger guide him anyway, and he still does.  He now says he is going to engage in "thermonuclear" war to help Trump and to destroy the establishment.  He's still trying to burn it down.  Uh, Steve: If it burns down, your man will get the blame.  He is in the White House.

Meanwhile, Bannon assigns no blame to Trump on anything.  Bannon wants to fight the remaining White House staff, all of whom were chosen by Trump, and Trump is still supporting McConnell's shill Luther Strange in Alabama.  I'm sorry: if McConnell, the GOPe, and liberal Democrats in the White House are the problem, then Trump owns much of the blame for choosing them. 

Anger at others won't allow that reality to sink in.  Meanwhile, Bannon wants to help Trump succeed while destroying Trump's party. 

This cannot happen.  That's now how this works.  That's not how any of this works.  If Ryan, McConnell, and the GOP are destroyed now, the Trump presidency will fail.  If he fails, the leftist Antifa SJW radical Democratic Party will take over, and the nation will be effectively destroyed.

Is pandering to our anger really worth that?  No, and certainly Steve Bannon must understand that.

Edmund Wright is contributor to American Thinker, Breitbart, Newsmax TV, and Talk Radio Network.

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