Bannon, ever controversial

A short comment on Steve Bannon’s interview with Robert Kuttner from The American Prospect.

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Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, called Robert Kuttner from the American Prospect on Wednesday. Contrary to Scaramucci’s call with Ryan Lizza from the New Yorker, Bannon refrained from hateful incentives and vile insults. More so, the chief strategist bared his views on North Korea, China and Charlottesville in what appeared to be a more or less reasonable and substantive call, regardless of his seemingly weak position within the White House.

Contrary to his boss, Bannon seems well-informed and contradicted Trump’s ‘fire and fury’, noting that “there’s no military solution [to North Korea’s nuclear threats]” and that his focus was fully on “the economic war with China”. Again, he goes against his boss, whose priorities are less with his campaign promises but concern more with the century-old mantra’s of the big-business Republican branch, which is, ironically, the swampy center of the Republican party.

Kuttner has long criticized trade with China and he explained the call by noting that Bannon wants to build a sort of coalition of “trade hawks” with people from both the left and the right. Again, whether you agree or don’t, respect Bannon or don’t, it’s refreshing to see that Bannon seems more free from dogmatic and partisan shackles, venturing to bring people from both the left and the right together in their mutual adversity towards globalism.

Charlottesville, “a bunch of losers”

Bannon was already a kind of chief strategist during the campaign. His Breitbart brought white nationalism, anti-immigration and at times neo-nazism to the mainstream and rallied them for Trump. Speculating whether Trump would have been in the White House if Breitbart and Steve Bannon weren’t there to help him is frivolous. Nonetheless, the alt-right is most consistent in its defense of Trump and Breitbart seems to play a helping hand in that. The aforementioned aside, Bannon did rightly condemn the protests in Charlottesville:

“Ethno-nationalism—it’s losers. It’s a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more.”

The former seems like an effort to please both sides, especially considering that in the same interview he wished that Democrats would keep talking about racism, Bannon would then have clear water before him to propose his program of economic nationalism. All in all, it’s quite promising to see that Trump’s chief strategist has a more nuanced and less reactionary view with regard to North Korea. What’s even more promising is that Bannon is willing to invite to the White House a writer for the American Prospect, an unmistakably leftist magazines that is consistent in its disdain for the Trump administration.

The Trump-administration might slowly bring back bipartisanship

The Trump-administration might actually bring the legislative branch back from the dead.

William F. Buckley, respected by those on the left and the right and more than most anyone a father of modern conservatism, made for a weekly dose of civil- and substantive discourse via his Firing Line. Two seats and a small audience combined with Buckley’s wit and rhetorical talents amounted to the longest running one-on-one television show.

The episode that aired on the 18th of September, 1998, featured conservative firebrand Ann Coulter — obviously accompanied by the ever-skeptical Buckley. Coulter was invited to discuss her new book; High Crimes and Misdemeanors, which concerned with the impeachment of Bill Clinton. One would presume Buckley and Coulter could agree, however, in this episode one sees the clear distinction between the two: Buckley’s arguments constituted a revival of conservatism; Coulter’s arguments merely concerned with Republican electoral gain — partisanship.

Impeachment and partisanship

Let us note Clinton’s impeachment process when then-Speaker Newt Gingrich was the main voice of opposition. Although Clinton was impeached on charges of perjury, the Senate later acquitted him. The heated hyper-partisan shadow cast over the nineties may have then culminated to nothing as Clinton’s approval rates jumped up and the GOP’s plummeted, the process of impeachment and eventual conviction has, is and will be in the President’s mind at his every move. Ultimately, it’s congress’ only tool to remove a President from office when the next election is simply too far away.

Vice-versa, any Democrat would rather unseat a Republican President than he or she would one of his own. Whether the respective President is accused of perjury, adultery or obstruction of justice is of no importance. Simply for the sake of the party and therefore a healthy opposition to the other, partisanship and impeachment are intertwined, the procedure is thus not so much a tool of justice and righteousness, merely one of politics and power.

A prominent and more timely example of partisanship when it comes to impeachment is the current Republican reaction to calls for impeachment by the Democrats. For one, the same Newt Gingrich and Ann Coulter whose calls for Clinton’s impeachment were among the most perfervid, now support the President in every way; defending his indecency, his incompetence and his role in the ever-deepening Russia-scandal. The sheer hypocrisy is a result of partisanship.

However ironic, both parties are obviously fighting a losing battle. The Democrats are becoming what they so loathed the Republicans for in the past eight years, namely an obstructionist party whose manifesto seems to consist only of ’stop Trump’. The Republicans aren’t fairing any better as they increasingly stray from their respectable conservative roots in their dogmatic defense of Trump — if any was left.

Bringing back collaboration

It is no secret that the GOP is too divided and uncontrolled to bring forward a decent ObamaCare replacement, the house bill only passed marginally, leaving Paul Ryan to lose every bit of credibility as a social conservative he had saved. Trump is merely a sideshow in the health care debacle; for one, he does not seem to care what it looks like as long as the AHCA is repealed, second, Trump has absolutely no idea how the promised bill should be advocated and promoted — surprisingly, health care is rather ’complicated’.

After eight years of negativism and obstructionism, Republicans jumped on the Trump-wagon in bare lust for power. Although — as noted — Trump’s input with regard to the legislative branch is non-existent, his candidacy has further divided Republicans, with some now choosing to not support the President in fear of losing their electorate – Sen. Collins is a notable example; while others provide deepening support for the President and find themselves deeper into the rabbit hole with every move. For those opposing the Republican party, current disarray is a happy confirmation that a party so experienced in its obstructionist opposition role can’t pass any serious legislation. For those same people, seeing the Democrats falling into that same position is a development less to their liking.

To conclude, we could note that with No. 45 further enveloped in his Russia scandal; breaking apart his administration — Sessions being the latest example — and causing his approval ratings to sink, house- and senate Republicans might come to their senses, starting to view the executive with a very healthy dose of skepticism. GOP House members and senators might once look at the honorable roots of their party and watch an episode of Firing Line, paving the way for a more bipartisan and therefore more representative and efficient approach and with that a legislative branch that is to be taken seriously again.

@Eat Pray Vote. Also, please note that all Firing Line episodes can be found on Youtube.