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Steve Bannon: A Retrospective and Analysis

TBRNordiske Mediedager 2019 steve bannon 43
TBRNordiske Mediedager 2019 steve bannon 43

In part one, the discussion focused mostly on the ambition of Steve Bannon in the United States, as well as Europe. In part two, the Steve Bannon European Domination Tour is appraised, and his failures are outlined, along with the successes; part three picks up where part two ended, as the COVID-19 pandemic was bearing down on a still, mostly, unsuspecting planet.

The global pandemic that has gripped the world for essentially two years at this point, has been unlike other modern national or international calamities for the entire world, to be as frank as possible. For the far-right in particular, however, this is perhaps even more accurate in some ways. This contingent uses misinformation, mistrust, and deceit to swallow up and convert more people towards their belief system, yet because of this widespread suffering that almost all Americans, nigh, people of the world, can relate to, this usual trick hasn’t worked nearly as well as it did before the pandemic.

While some in America, as well as the rest of the world, have downplayed this horrific bane on humanity, and have from the very beginning, while also claiming that China was somehow behind the illness in a malevolent, purposeful way, as a Democratic boon or “hoax” that would damage Donald Trump and his administration, the real, tangible pain and suffering of swaths of ordinary, everyday citizens was so massive and widespread, that, in many ways, in hindsight at least, it has made many people understand better the need for complete and positive collective action, as well as the belief in it, in order to fix tremendous, enduring problems that humanity has long sought to rid itself of, like sickness, poverty, or police brutality.

 

Conspiracies, particularly in this instance, are truly difficult to stomach, especially because when they intersect with something like a global plague, they simply discount the sheer, brutal power of nature when in comparison to humanity. Conspiracies also exist, and have previously existed, as an intellectual construct with which to avoid accountability, deflect criticism from themselves or their ideological superiors, and otherwise keep things as close to as they’ve previously been as possible. 

 

If nefarious, careless agents of a foreign power created this illness, then there becomes a villain and victims, as well as at least one potential hero, and maybe others too; it also means, coincidentally, that there was never any way that any of the politicians who’ve previously denied the deadly nature of COVID-19, could’ve possibly been prepared for something so designed to inflict death and suffering upon Americans in particular, and humanity as a larger entity. It is a convenient slippery slope that they slide down on, and it certainly serves the purpose of minimizing accountability, as well as responsibility for failures, miscues, and shortsightedness. In this same vein, it is sincerely interesting to me that people who tend to rely upon this type of logic, in my experience at least, have a propensity to swing wildly between a sense of humanities awesome, all-powerful nature and potential, and the fatalist, medieval notion that the world and its circumstances are fixed, and therefore, without recourse by humanity. In the end, of course, they believe and say whatever is most beneficial for them and their own, often moneyed interests, given the circumstances of the time or environment.

 

“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” – George Orwell

 

Within just months of those late 2019 warnings, whispers, statements, and inquiries, when the greater world was in the midst of a real, shared, and mutual crisis, hardly any nation claimed to be safe from any of that pain, death, and suffering, and those nations and their leaders who chose to, were, in fact, lying. Some, however, even continue to do so; North Korea and Turkmenistan have both maintained the facade that has existed across the entire pandemic so far, even as reports to the contrary have trickled out of the Hermit Kingdom in the approximately two years since the world noticed the plague circulating the globe. 

 

When nations around the world, one by one, fell prey to this illness and its various, subsequent mutations, their warnings to the still seemingly healthier nations, oftentimes fell on deaf ears from governments and populations that had previously quelled or lived through lesser epidemics and regional pandemics across the years. Russia had, for months, acted as though they were not experiencing any issue whatsoever, even as it is quite likely that thousands, numbers far exceeding the official numbers that Russia has provided, were getting ill and dying in the vast, diverse, and often desolate Russian countryside.

 

The United States under Donald Trump was not very proactive in regards to this whatsoever. In America, it is difficult to find anyone still living who cannot tell you where they were or what they were doing or thinking on St. Patrick’s Day Weekend in 2020, because, for many Americans, that was the last time they would go to work, or go to visit friends for some time. Yet in the weeks and even months leading up to March 15th of 2020, American exceptionalism, a topic I discuss at length in a forthcoming published essay in a different publication, reared its ugly head, and helped to ensure that Americans would needlessly suffer and perish no less than their international brethren.

 

Reports and coverage began coming out of other countries with increasing pace, with seemingly more and more each day, tantalizing and taunting the United States and its people, and yet Americans, still able to remember when Ebola was devastating parts of Africa only years before, as well as the then-President’s well organized, progressive, and reasonably tactful response to the crisis, felt, somehow, naively, as though they had little to fear of a disease ravaging the rest of the non-American world. How could such an illness, of which could surely strike down allegedly “lesser” national institutions of neighboring nations, strike and affect Americans and mighty American institution in America itself? While this logic is, to be sure, absurd and asinine, it is the logic that explains how the United States, with an incredible amount of forewarning, could have failed to act meaningfully, seriously, and with the haste and poise that the situation deserved.

 

It is noticeable that, while the most far-right, reactionary leaders and governments in the world largely deflected, denied, and prevaricated as a major, continuously mounting emergency was unfurling itself, more progressive leaders, governments, and nations took the illness very seriously and were able to stave off larger death tolls and general human misery and suffering as a result. New Zealand is often held as the standard thanks to the actions, attention paid, and foresight of their own Prime Minister, the young Jacinda Ardern, who has kept life relatively normal in her country even as the rest of the world attempted to press on in the face of impending death and sheer, unadulterated madness.

 

“Today’s public figures can no longer write their own speeches or books, and there is some evidence that they can’t read them either.” – Gore Vidal

 

The United States, the United Kingdom, and Brazil, to name but three nations who were being led by highly reactionary, variously illiberal men during the beginning of this truly global plague, are amongst the nations who have seen some of the worst death rates across the world. While the UK remains, today, one of the most highly infected places in the world, an American state like Mississippi would, were it its own country, be, in fact, one of the most devastated nations regarding this illness, by the numbers, in the entire world.

 

Yet as things were developing across the world, none of this was known yet, or would even be understood until months later. As 2020 began, it appeared as any other year might, while by the middle of March of that year, even the United States and Donald Trump, who had downplayed the significance or virulence of the disease from the initial public whispers, although he was warned about it in advance, of course, would never support a full, federal lockdown, and would only grudgingly relent from his previous positions after much outrage to finally provide aid to millions of affected or potentially infectable Americans. While “essential workers” remained working, the money that came from federal checks and federally assisted state unemployment helped to keep great swaths of people safe at home, thereby saving themselves and others from potential illness, suffering, and death until more was understood about the new, frightening coronavirus.

 

Trump would say such classic, quotable statements like, “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear,” and was reportedly not motivated to take more substantial action as the plague first killed and impacted Democratic states, cities, and populations, seeing in those moments, no moment for empathy, love or compassion, unique opportunities to make electoral inroads with a potential re-election victory in the offing. As thousands of people in the United States, and millions across the world, were becoming infected and made sick, to varying degrees, or else acted as unknowing viral vectors and hosts for this illness to grow, change and spread further, the President, as is the story of his life, could think of no one but himself and his own self-interests. He and his cronies would complain, and continuously complain further after that, that shutting the country down was, economically speaking, a more devastating solution than the actual problem was itself. Putting ones own power, ambitions, and interests in front of the very primal, natural interest to remain alive and in the midst of your loved ones is about as fascistic as anything else, and much like authoritarians of a different era, willingly sacrificed his people in the hopes that their deaths might, in the end, be glorified by his own triumphs despite them.

 

Boris Johnson in the UK has done much of the same, in his own, British way; Brazil’s own Jair Bolsonaro, meanwhile, despite contracting the illness, just like Boris Johnson before him, and Donald Trump after him, he stated quite recently that he would not take the vaccine that Brazilians are desperate for because he doesn’t see the point after having survived the illness without the added boost provided by even less effective vaccines. He is also possibly facing mass murder charges for his lack of action during the worst moments of the pandemic, something that, in a better world, Donald Trump and Boris Johnson might also suffer through as well.

 

Steve Bannon, the friend of all of these men in some capacity or another, at this time, wasn’t taking any chances, however. He, contrary to those men he had previously advised or would come to advise in the coming years, was quite sure of the deadly nature of COVID-19 by at least December of 2019, if not by January 2020. He would also claim, however, that in fact, China was not only behind this international incident, but might have even meant for it to escape in the first instance.

 

Leave it to Bannon to always know, almost intrinsically, how to make any given situation, whether it be the domestic business of one nation or the shared business of the international community, objectively worse; the modern, far-right’s Minister of Propaganda is, at all times, fully prepared to cause real trouble for whatever party or parties might be involved in a circumstance, as a part of his larger mission to, like Russia, split up and separate allied or unified countries of the world.

 

“What need is there to weep over parts of life? The whole of it calls for tears.” – Seneca the Younger

 

Once the pandemic was spreading and spreading fast, as the proverbial cat had been released from the bag, the world would struggle collectively, as well as individually, like the very people of the world and the many, varied polities and societies of our earth. While still in March of 2020, Bannon stated that the pandemic would be Trump’s Churchill and FDR moment, and it was hinted and rumored in the following months that Steve Bannon was possibly returning to the President’s services to help him win reelection in the, at the time, upcoming 2020 Presidential Election. While it was good press at the time, between March and May of that year, anyone who had followed the story of Steve Bannon for long enough knew not to necessarily believe it.

 

Too many bridges had been burnt as Steve Bannon had left Trump world at the end of 2017, and while the Don himself might be able to forget and remember grudges when it is convenient for him to do so, there were many other names that had real, sincere frustrations and gripes with Bannon and his own disciples, and that disdain held for Bannon by Don Sr’s various children and their partners was always going to take precedent over bringing Bannon back in any official role or capacity; he is more effective, after all, as he has proven over the years since my first piece regarding him, when he is unbridled by an institution such as the United States government, and allowed to roam free, blighting the land and its people as he goes along.

 

He would, nonetheless, go across the United States to speak during the late summer and early fall of 2020, while hosting his aforementioned podcast, and would be an ardent supporter and cheerleader of the President who had previously fired him. During this time, he would speak highly of the job that Trump had done for the economy, for the people of the country, for the respect of the United States from a worldwide perspective, and in regards to what might still be achieved in the future should Trump be able to defeat “Sleepy” Joe Biden in the Presidential election that, by this time, laid just months away. 

 

In reality, by mid to late summer of 2020, with the population still largely at home, and illnesses continuing to mount as scientists rushed to develop vaccinations, doctors looked to find treatments and Big Pharma looked to make money in the matter however they might be able to. The economy was annihilated, but many normal people were protected by the expanded unemployment benefits that the Republican President was unenthusiastically responsible for signing; meanwhile, multiple hundreds of thousands of Americans had already died to that point. 

 

Those scientists, meanwhile, were finding success on their search for an effective vaccine, and in fact, several, variously effective potential vaccines were being worked on and developed during this time, not only in the United States, but across the world. But many months and multiple evaluations still separated these tests and trials from a chance to save real human lives, in real, uncontrolled existence. Should the 45th President of the United States have been able to have acted in these moments without bombast or animosity, tactless apathy or dishonesty, he could have likely provided himself with some easy positive press that much of the country would’ve likely, even if only by degrees, have warmed up to. 

 

Instead, however, the President acted like a raving madman as opposed to a President. He tried to champion multiple drugs whose efficacy in treating COVID-19 has always been suspect and, in fact, neither has much, if any, clinical evidence to backup any positive claims or anecdotal recoveries. That would not stop the 45th President, however, and despite the fact that Steve Bannon was quite aware that this pandemic was serious, he did not pushback on his most prized of champions, despite that doing so, were his tune to have been changeable, might have saved his re-election hopes for 2020. 

 

It was now, by this point, September, or maybe even October; it was only weeks away from the Presidential Election, and Donald Trump, for all intents and purposes, appeared finished from this author’s perspective. The President simply hadn’t done his part to be reelected, despite the fact that Steve Bannon did, in fact, continue to do his own part towards the goal of extending Trump’s own stay in the White House, even after he himself was asked to leave it. When the 6th of November came and went once again, as it is wont to do year in and year out, there would be little legitimate controversy with the results, as there had been following the previous Presidential Election; Joe Biden had won, and won by a bit more than Trump had beaten Hillary by in 2016. Yet loads of illegitimate, artificial controversies would emerge that, despite the President’s best, most arduous and determined efforts, he and his followers were unable to add credence to.

 

The President, however, recalling a lesson he learned from the infamous Roy Cohn, as well as likely Steve Bannon in a different capacity, decided that, contrary to every President since Andrew Johnson, he would not only not attend his successor’s inauguration, but would not even concede that he had lost in the first place. In the months ahead, countless pieces and essays would emerge detailing the internal fighting and pushback that was occurring for months ahead of the start of Joe Biden’s term, yet at the time, few knew what was going on either on the surface or beneath the facade.

 

The President blatantly sought to overturn results in numerous states, of which could still get him in legal troubles in the state of Georgia, accusing it and other states of massive, unprecedented, and unsubstantiated voter fraud. He sought to influence not only state officials but federal officials as well in the hopes of having other figures, judged or perceived as more honest than the President himself, could lend useful and helpful credence to the idea he was attempting to develop; Mark Miley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the entire armed forces, was so nervous from having worked with and witnessed the now-outgoing President previously, that he actually went out of his way to call his Chinese counterpart in hopes of protecting the United States and its people from some potential incident before the new President was officially inaugurated.

 

And then came the 6th of January, 2021. It is now known simply as 1/6, just as the 11th September of 2001 is famously known as 9/11, and while 9/11 remains the deadlier, perhaps more overtly traumatic ordeal, 1/6, as well as its aftermath, will have a place in the American history books all the same. When rabid Trump supporters and Qanon believers left the President’s rally down the way, marching and chanting their way down to where Congress works, it was only the start of one of the most insidious moments in the short, yet turbulent history of the United States.

 

What those Trump supporters would do to the White House, and what they planned to do and when they planned to do it, has been the talk of every person, and every media outlet in the months since, other than those outlets who have actually sought to deny or ignore the attack, or even turn it around into something else altogether, like “America’s Tiananmen Square,” with martyrs and conspiracies and all of that. They came with zip ties and tactical equipment, rope, weapons, and varying plans; they wandered the halls and wondered where Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was, and were somehow able to remove a panic switch in an unmarked office that houses Representative Ayanna Pressley. What was witnessed on that day was merely a fraction of what might have been experienced by the nation on that day if certain circumstances or incidents had broken different ways.

 

In the aftermath of this modern American travesty, the pressure that this would put on the 45th President of the United States can still be observed or felt all these months later, as, for just a brace of examples, Donald Trump remains banned from Facebook and Twitter, having first occurred just days after the insurrection, two of his largest mouthpieces. Out of all of the things he had done in his four years, which included two impeachments, two impeachment trials, possible collusion, known, understood collusion, lying, smearing, corrupting, contriving, and pardoning too, this promotion, potential planning, and seeming support of these violent actions at the capital earned him possibly the greatest, most long-lasting enmity of many of his decisions. He came the closest to conceding the election to Joe Biden that he ever has in the aftermath of this whole, sorted affair, before he quickly scurried away, thoroughly embarrassed, tired, and beyond angry that he was ousted from the White House after just four years, like a “loser” President, by “one of the worst candidates in American history.” Steve Bannon, on the other hand, was closer than he had been at any point since the Summer of 2017 of getting his Trump card back.

 

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