Trump versus Bannon: Is Trump Right?

The bubbling tensions between President Donald Trump and his former senior adviser Steve Bannon escalated into an all-out street brawl on social media Wednesday, as excerpts from Bannon in the forthcoming book Fire and Fury circulated.  Of course, the president fired back.  Trump always fires back, and it's absolutely one reason he was nominated, then elected.  But a sober analysis of his tweeting and responses reaches the inescapable conclusion that he responds at times when he should not.

That I, a reluctant Trump-supporter, would say this draws only derision from the universe of supporters who demand 100% fealty.  But hey, even Milo, one of Trump's early adopters and biggest supporters over the past two years, understands this dynamic.  In explaining his shocking "daddy" reference to the president, Milo stated that it has to do with the fact that while Trump's "got your back," he can also sometimes "make you cringe and embarrass you in front of your friends."

I agree on all points.  So is Trump right to punch back at Bannon?  Well, yes and no.  I submit that I'm in a perfect position to comment, since I was an associate of Bannon in our fight against the Republican establishment, and it's relevant that our professional relationship was strained when my support for Trump did not measure up to Steve's demands.  And it's instructive that where Steve and I disagree, I tend to be in agreement with Trump – and where I disagree with Trump, it's often where I do agree with Bannon.

For example, Trump was totally wrong, at least in context, when he replied that "Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates" and rubbed salt into the wound by adding that "Steve had very little to do with our historic victory."

That's utter nonsense in context.  Yes, technically, Bannon did not join the team until the primary season was over.  But in proper context, Bannon had a major impact on Trump's primary campaign success as the executive chairman at Breitbart prior.  It's why he got the Trump job, for crying out loud.  For Trump to dismiss Steve's contribution now is to make Steve's shocking hire in the summer of 2016 look ridiculous.

Consider that for years, Breitbart, not to mention Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity,  The Drudge Report, and other conservative outlets had been pretty much 100% philosophical matches for Ted Cruz, not to mention big supporters of how Scott Walker turned Wisconsin upside-down.

When all of those outlets went all in for Trump, and not Walker or Cruz, in the primary season, it had a major impact on the race.  They were worth some 2 billion dollars' worth of free positive coverage to Trump in the primary season alone.  A study I conducted of Limbaugh's transcripts showed about 500 million dollars' worth of coverage on just his show.

This P.R. was a massive factor, and for those who want to make the "chicken and egg" argument – which is reasonable – I will remind you that all of those outlets, including Breitbart, were all in for Trump before Trump gained his irresistible momentum, and they are perhaps why and how he ever gained it in the first place.

This is what I had predicted in March of 2015, here and in Breitbart: that the Republican who won the "Limbaugh Breitbart talk radio internet primary" would win the nomination, period.  End of discussion.  Trump was not in the race at the time, but he clearly ended up winning that universe overall by a wide margin.  Cruz was the second fave among those platforms by a wide margin.

Not coincidentally, Trump and Cruz were 1-2 in actual voting as well.  And again, the salient point to this is that Bannon had a helluva lot to do with Trump's win before he officially joined the campaign.  In fact, at the time, the joke was that Bannon had changed employers but had retained the same job: as "Trump's campaign manager."

Then there's the general election campaign itself.  There is no way to minimize the contributions that both Bannon and Kellyanne Conway made to the efforts.  We'll never know for sure what might have happened, but we do know that Trump's polls improved mightily after those two took charge and that in the end, the national pollsters were almost spot-on accurate with the popular vote, even if they missed the Electoral College outcome.

Something improved on Team Trump after Bannon took over, and I refuse to believe that it was coincidence.  Steve Bannon is one of the five people on the planet most responsible for Trump's win.  Trump is numero uno, of course, but Steve is on that list, along with Drudge; Hannity; and the bumbling, boring Hillary Clinton.  Without the efforts of all five, the outcome would be different.  It was that close, and these people were all that important.

So where was Trump right?  Bannon and Alabama.  Forget the specifics of Roy Moore and the accusers for a second, and keep in mind that in general, Steve Bannon loathes the Republican establishment even more than he loathes the Democratic left.  And he guides the content at Breitbart consistently with that emphasis.

The fact is, the despicable Mitch McConnell should've never stuck his nose, and his super-PAC money, into that primary in the first place on behalf of Luther Strange.  Trump should not have endorsed him, and Moore should have never entered.  Mo Brooks was a perfectly suitable candidate who would almost always vote for Trump's agenda, who could've beaten Strange – and any Democrat.

Remember: there are ten Democrat senators in Trump states facing election in 2018, and those are easier primaries to win without an establishment incumbent to deal with.  Moreover, the risk of handing the gavel to Chuck Schumer is lessened, not increased, by focusing on these.

But Bannon wants to "burn it all down," meaning primarily the Republican establishment.  I prefer overwhelming the establishment with numbers by winning the easier primaries.

As for Bannon's accusations regarding some of Trump's family and other Trump supporters vis-à-vis Russia and some other issues, time will tell whether he is right or not.  I have no particular insight into those issues, only predicting that the entire Russia collusion story will end up as nothing. 

In the meantime, a Trump versus Bannon fight is not helpful to anyone who wants to keep the socialist Democrat statists in check.  When the fighting is intramural, we get the disaster of Alabama.  When we keep our eye on the ball, we get the tax reform win.  I want more wins, fewer Alabamas in the coming year. 

Edmund Wright is a longtime contributor to American Thinker, Breitbart, and Newsmax TV and the author of WTF? How Karl Rove and the Establishment Lost...Again