The ghost of Steve Ban­non

The in­flu­ence of the for­mer chief strate­gist still lingers in the White House as the guide of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion

Gulf News - - Opinion -

teve Ban­non may no longer be phys­i­cally in the White House, but his spirit lingers there as the guide of the Don­ald Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion and the soul at the core of its be­liefs.

Ban­non is Dick­en­sian in the way his pres­ence — and nom­i­nal ab­sence — haunts the Trump pres­i­dency, defin­ing its past, dic­tat­ing its present and damn­ing its fu­ture. Ban­non is the au­thor of Trump’s ide­ol­ogy. It is al­ways worth re­mem­ber­ing that Ban­non, who de­parted the White House in mid-Au­gust and re­turned to his right-wing web­site Bre­it­bart the same day, last year proudly told Mother Jones: “We’re the plat­form for the alt-right.” Alt-right is just a new name for Nazis and racists. Maybe more im­por­tant, the Nazis and racists believe that Bre­it­bart is a wel­com­ing plat­form for them. A few days be­fore Mother Jones pub­lished its in­ter­view with Ban­non, the Daily Beast pub­lished this: “Richard Spencer, who heads the white su­prem­a­cist think tank, Na­tional Pol­icy In­sti­tute, said he was also pleased. Un­der Ban­non’s lead­er­ship, Bre­it­bart has given favourable cov­er­age to the white su­prem­a­cist Alt Right move­ment. And Spencer loves it.”

Yes, that Richard Spencer, the one who has led three tik­i­torch hate marches in Char­lottesville, the sec­ond of which re­sulted in the killing-by-car of coun­ter­protester Heather Heyer. The Daily Beast quoted Spencer say­ing: “Bre­it­bart has elec­tive affini­ties with the Alt Right, and the Alt Right has clearly in­flu­enced Bre­it­bart; In this way, Bre­it­bart has acted as a ‘gate­way’ to Alt Right ideas and writ­ers. I don’t think it has done this de­lib­er­ately; again, it’s a mat­ter of elec­tive affini­ties.”

Whether it was de­lib­er­ate or the re­sult of “elec­tive affini­ties”, the two are drawn to each other out of shared in­ter­ests and a shared world­view. Even the phrase “elec­tive affini­ties” is likely taken from the ti­tle of an 1809 novel by famed Ger­man writer Jo­hann Wolf­gang von Goethe, al­though its us­age traces back ear­lier.

Ear­lier this year, at the Con­ser­va­tive Po­lit­i­cal Ac­tion Con­fer­ence, Ban­non out­lined them: na­tional se­cu­rity and sovereignty; eco­nomic na­tion­al­ism; and de­con­struc­tion of the ad­min­is­tra­tive state. Ev­ery­thing Trump does or says falls into one of those buck­ets. The Wash­ing­ton Post re­ported at the end of Au­gust, Trump con­tin­ued to defy the wishes of his chief of staff John F. Kelly, in­clud­ing by reach­ing out to Ban­non: “The pres­i­dent con­tin­ues to call busi­ness friends and out­side ad­vis­ers, in­clud­ing for­mer chief strate­gist Stephen K. Ban­non, from his per­sonal phone when Kelly is not around, said peo­ple with knowl­edge of the calls.” On Septem­ber 12, the Wall Street Jour­nal re­ported that Ban­non told a pri­vate group in Hong Kong that he “speaks with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ev­ery two to three days”. White House press sec­re­tary and chief twister-of-truths Sarah Huck­abee San­ders cush­ioned the claim, telling re­porters that the times Trump and Ban­non spoke were “cer­tainly not that fre­quently”.

But the Post fol­lowed up in Oc­to­ber, re­port­ing that Trump and Ban­non “have re­mained in fre­quent con­tact, chat­ting as of­ten as sev­eral times a week”, and that “Trump usu­ally ini­ti­ates the talks be­cause in­com­ing calls now are routed through chief-of-staff John F. Kelly and his dis­ci­plinar­i­ans.” The Post con­tin­ued: “Ban­non tells con­fi­dants he sees him­self as ‘the pres­i­dent’s wing­man’, tend­ing to his base and tak­ing on his enemies. Trump still fre­quently con­sults him, and Ban­non be­lieves he is ex­e­cut­ing the pres­i­dent’s wishes.” New York Times colum­nist.­ions

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.