The presidency we won is over: Bannon

A file photo of White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.

A file photo of White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.   | Photo Credit: AP

Ousted chief strategist says he is going to war for Trump against his rivals on Capitol Hill, in media and Corporate America

Stephen Bannon joined Donald Trump’s campaign in August 2016, and told the latter what he wanted to hear — go strong on the rhetoric rather than moderate as he was being advised by mainstream commentators. The campaign was flailing when Mr. Bannon joined. Higher doses of rhetoric against immigration and “radial Islamic terrorism” brought Mr. Trump to the White House and Mr. Bannon tagged along, as the chief strategist.

“The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over,” Mr. Bannon told the Weekly Standard in his first interview after he was ousted from the White House on Friday. “We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency. But that presidency is over. It’ll be something else. And there’ll be all kinds of fights, and there’ll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over.”

In another interview to Bloomberg Businessweek’s Joshua Green, whose recent book Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump and the Storming of the Presidency, is being cited as the immediate reason for his long-speculated downfall, Mr. Bannon said: “If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents — on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America.”

Mr. Bannon maintains that the separation was mutually agreed upon with the President. But regardless of the facts, his departure is a huge score for the ‘globalist’ wing in the administration, a pejorative term that the ‘nationalist’ group led by Mr. Bannon used to describe pro-trade people that include Mr. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. “I think they’re going to try to moderate him,” Mr, Bannon told Weekly Standard. “His natural tendency—and I think you saw it this week on Charlottesville—his actual default position is the position of his base, the position that got him elected. I think you’re going to see a lot of constraints on that. I think it’ll be much more conventional.” Mr. Bannon said the President had encouraged him to take on the Republican establishment.“I said, ‘look, I’ll focus on going after the establishment.’ He said, ‘good, I need that.’ I said, ‘look, I’ll always be here covering for you.’

Mr. Trump has been public about repudiating any suggestion that Mr. Bannon is instrumental to his success. “He works for me,” the President said in an interview after the Time put Mr. Bannon on the cover as the brain behind the Presidency earlier this year. The President cites the number of times he has been on the cover of Time and did not hide his displeasure in sharing that space with someone. Mr Green’s book’s cover shows both on equal pedestal.

The President’s positions on trade and immigration are decades old, but he is always only a good offer away from making a deal with any country, while Mr. Bannon has more longterm plans for economy and society. The difference between the two was evident in an interview in later 2015, in which Mr. Bannon lamented the “South Asian takeover” of the Silicon Valley. Mr. Trump, who was only one of the several Republicans in the fray then, said America must keep talented people who can create jobs inside the country, and cited the case of Snapdeal founder Kunal Bahl who could not get a visa in the U.S. “But a country is not only an economy. It is a civil society,” said Mr. Bannon to his future boss. Addressing a Catholic conference in Vatican in 2014, he said capitalism lost its moral moorings based in Judeo-Christian values. Mr. Bannon remains steadfastly opposed to corporate influence over American policy ideologically, while Mr. Trump who had the same position during campaign has appointed several people from the Wall Street to his administration. For Mr. Trump, a large part of his rhetoric is salesmanship while for Mr. Bannon it is more about an unflinching ideological position.

Mr. Trump could be swayed by traditional advisors on issues of military, foreign and trade policy but those will not align well with the politics that catapulted him to White House. It is likely that Mr. Trump will drawn on Mr. Bannon’s skills in the future too. “I want to thank Steve Bannon for his service. He came to the campaign during my run against Crooked Hillary Clinton - it was great! Thanks S,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter on Saturday.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 9:29:41 PM |

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