Could Immigration Reform Fracture the Base?

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President Trump met with Republicans and Democrats yesterday to discuss the wall, DACA, and immigration reform. It was… interesting (“Trump Appears to Endorse Path to Citizenship for Millions of Immigrants,” New York Times, 1/9/2018):

President Trump on Tuesday appeared open to negotiating a sweeping immigration deal that would eventually grant millions of undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship, declaring that he was willing to “take the heat” politically for an approach that seemed to flatly contradict the anti-immigration stance that charged his political rise.

The president made the remarks during an extended meeting with congressional Republicans and Democrats who are weighing a shorter-term agreement that would extend legal status for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. The 90-minute session — more than half of which played out on national television — appeared to produce some progress: Mr. Trump agreed to a framework for a short-term immigration deal to couple protection for young, undocumented immigrants with border security.

But in suggesting that a broader immigration measure was possible next, Mr. Trump was giving a rare public glimpse of an impulse he has expressed privately to advisers and lawmakers — the desire to preside over a more far-reaching solution to the status of the 11 million undocumented immigrants already living and working in the United States. Passage of a comprehensive immigration law would give Mr. Trump success where Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush failed.

That would be pretty incredible, and it would be an actual accomplishment. The deplorables have been willing to follow Trump on everything else, but they really enjoyed chanting “Build the wall” at his rallies (and even though Trump never locked Clinton up, the DOJ might reopen its investigation into Clinton, so the hope is alive!), so this might be one of those rare instances when they don’t:

The push for an immigration deal with Democrats has the potential to alienate the hard-line anti-immigration activists who powered his political rise and helped him win the presidency, many of whom have described it as amnesty for lawbreakers. If he succeeds, it could be compared to Richard Nixon’s historic trip to China. Only an anti-Communist hard-liner could have made the opening acceptable to his supporters.

If he fails, it would be more like Ronald Reagan in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he suggested eliminating much of the United States and Soviet nuclear arsenal, a momentary glimmer of idealism that was crushed by a backlash from his own party.

And wouldn’t you know it, it doesn’t look like the hooligans over at Breitbart want any part of it:

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Despite the implicit message in the photo of Trump next to Jeb Bush that Trump is cucking himself, if that’s even possible, the article itself doesn’t have much in the way of sly language that goes after him. If anything, it tries to paint the picture that Trump is doing what he has to in order to get funding for the wall—you know, being a deal maker.

But the weirdos in the comments aren’t having it:

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I don’t know whether Trump going through with this would actually rupture his base. First, I don’t read Breitbart often enough to know whether similar instances in the past of Trump apparently compromising on something he promised raised the ire of the faithful enough to the point where they threatened to rescind their support—and even if they did make that threat, I don’t know how many later decided to keep supporting Trump because they found some way to rationalize his apparent betrayal in their lizard brains.

Second, although his base is solid, I don’t think it’s so large that alienating a few within would cause his already-poor polling numbers to decrease significantly. I also think Trump realizes that a move like this, although still unpopular with a lot of Democrats because of his insistence on wall funding, would be fairly popular, or at least a net positive, overall. If it goes through, he’ll get media praise from centrists like Chuck Todd or the op-ed conservative intellectuals in the New York Times and Washington Post for negotiating a tough bipartisan bill (regardless of how much credit he actually deserves, which I would place at a little above 0), and that’s all Trump really wants. And I think it might attract some conservatives who aren’t hardliners on immigration who have been previously turned off by Trump and his administration.

But who knows. This is Trump. By lunchtime he might say all illegal immigrants need to be thrown in a lake. I mean, he’s willing to deport 200,000 Salvadorans who were invited to the country in the wake of a devastating earthquake, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves. If I had to bet my money on it, I don’t think his base will go anywhere, at least not in significant numbers, so long as something resembling a wall gets funded.

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David Brooks: Sure, Trump Is an Idiot, But His Critics Are Stupid, Too

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It’s been a while since David Brooks wrote something stupid enough that I felt the need to address it here, so I’m on a high right now. With the recent publication of Michael Wolff’s explosive book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, Brooks fears that the anti-Trump movement has gotten a little too dumb (“The Decline of Anti-Trumpism,” New York Times, 1/9/2018):

[T]he anti-Trump movement, of which I’m a proud member, seems to be getting dumber. It seems to be settling into a smug, fairy tale version of reality that filters out discordant information. More anti-Trumpers seem to be telling themselves a “Madness of King George” narrative: Trump is a semiliterate madman surrounded by sycophants who are morally, intellectually and psychologically inferior to people like us.

Not for nothing, David, and I’m really not joking or exaggerating when I say this, but this seems pretty much 100% spot on, and I’m going to need some evidence to the contrary before I start saying it isn’t true.

Okay, okay. I get it. There is, of course, an element of anti-Trumpism that is incredibly stupid. Anyone who follows Louise Mensch, Eric Garland, or Seth Abramson on Twitter can see the depths to which the anti-Trump movement can sink. But these aren’t extraordinarily popular figures on the left. They’re not on the same level as someone like Sean Hannity. So what is Brooks on about?

The anti-Trump movement suffers from insularity. Most of the people who detest Trump don’t know anybody who works with him or supports him. And if they do have friends and family members who admire Trump, they’ve learned not to talk about this subject. So they get most of their information about Trumpism from others who also detest Trumpism, which is always a recipe for epistemic closure.

Sorry, the anti-Trump movement suffers from insularity? Not the Trump supporters who believe literally everything that isn’t Fox News is a fabrication? Or how about Trump himself, who receives reports from aids multiple times a day full of positive media stories about himself? But no, we’re the ones who are insular.

The movement also suffers from lowbrowism. Fox News pioneered modern lowbrowism. The modern lowbrow (think Sean Hannity or Dinesh D’Souza) ignores normal journalistic or intellectual standards. He creates a style of communication that doesn’t make you think more; it makes you think and notice less. He offers a steady diet of affirmation, focuses on simple topics that require little background information, and gets viewers addicted to daily doses of righteous contempt and delicious vindication.

We anti-Trumpers have our lowbrowism, too, mostly on late-night TV. But anti-Trump lowbrowism burst into full bloom with the Wolff book.

For one, it seems like the consensus on the Wolff book is that everything should be taken with a grain of salt, particularly long, uninterrupted quotes. But the consensus in the media—you know, among the journalists who spend all day talking to the exact same people as Wolff did—is that some details are probably inaccurate, but the main thrust of the book is completely accurate. We already know Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a “moron.” We know Chief of Staff H.R. McMaster mocked Trump’s intelligence. Trump hired Steve Bannon, who referred to Paul Ryan as a “limp-dicked motherfucker.” He hired Anthony Scaramucci, who said Bannon tries to suck his own cock. (It should also be noted that those Scaramucci quotes came to light because he’s so stupid he doesn’t know whether what he says is on or off the record.) In the early months of the administration, White House staff were leaking so much to the press that then-spokesperson Sean Spicer had to perform phone checks. It’s really not so hard to believe that a lot of the people surrounding Trump think he’s an idiot who is incapable of doing the job. Brooks, however, seems to think Trump is improving:

First, people who go into the White House to have a meeting with President Trump usually leave pleasantly surprised. They find that Trump is not the raving madman they expected from his tweetstorms or the media coverage. They generally say that he is affable, if repetitive. He runs a normal, good meeting and seems well-informed enough to get by.

So Trump repeats himself enough that most of the people who go to work for him compelled to comment on it. And sorry, but “well-informed enough to get by” is not exactly a ringing endorsement, nor is it comforting.

Second, people who work in the Trump administration have wildly divergent views about their boss. Some think he is a deranged child, as Michael Wolff reported. But some think he is merely a distraction they can work around. Some think he is strange, but not impossible. Some genuinely admire Trump. Many filter out his crazy stuff and pretend it doesn’t exist.

If I understood that correctly, Brooks places the people who work under Trump into four categories according to their reaction to him: 1) Trump is a “deranged child,” 2) he’s someone to be worked around, 3) he’s strange, or 4) he’s admirable but admittedly crazy. I wonder how Brooks would feel if the editorial assistants and copy editors who work beneath him had the same reactions to him.

Third, the White House is getting more professional. Imagine if Trump didn’t tweet.

But he does tweet, so what’s the point of imagining him not doing it? The tweets merely add to all the horrible things he and his administration do or try to do, like the Muslim ban, the purge of 200,000 Salvadorians, the most regressive tax overhaul in recent history, packing the courts with unqualified right-wing kooks, attempting to sabotage the health care industry… shall I go on?

That Brooks is so concerned that a single book will tank the movement he believes he’s a part of is stupid. It’s one book. Excuse us if the insanity of the last year is nicely summarized in a book on palace intrigue and we get to giggle at it. And for someone who is so desperate to make the office of the president something to be taken seriously again, he has an odd choice of delineating who he thinks we ought to take seriously:

There’s a hierarchy of excellence in every sphere. There’s a huge difference between William F. Buckley and Sean Hannity, between the reporters at this newspaper and a rumor-spreader.

Really, Oprah?

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Thomas Chatterson Williams had a look at the rumors swirling around the possibility of Oprah Winfrey running for president on the Democratic ticket and said, “No thank you.” (“Oprah, Don’t Do It,” New York Times, 1/9/2018):

I am not immune to Oprah’s charms, but President Winfrey is a terrible idea. It also underscores the extent to which Trumpism — the kowtowing to celebrity and ratings, the repudiation of experience and expertise — has infected our civic life. The ideal post-Trump politician will, at the very least, be a deeply serious figure with a strong record of public service behind her. It would be a devastating, self-inflicted wound for the Democrats to settle for even benevolent mimicry of Mr. Trump’s hallucinatory circus act.

And while there has been a lot of positive response to the idea of Winfrey running for president (as Williams cites earlier in his piece), there has been a quick and stern reaction from a lot of liberals (as evidenced in the comments responding to Williams’s piece). To which Bill Kristol, of all people, had this to say:

Strangely, Kristol himself is on board with Winfrey, which in itself gives me doubts about it.

Look, Oprah Winfrey is a talented, intelligent, self-made woman. I don’t doubt that she’s a compassionate person who wants to make the world a better place. But as Williams points out, she’s a celebrity:

The idea that the presidency should become just another prize for celebrities — even the ones with whose politics we imagine we agree — is dangerous in the extreme. If the first year of the Trump administration has made anything clear, it’s that experience, knowledge, education and political wisdom matter tremendously.

If it came down to it, yes, I’d vote for Oprah Winfrey for president if it were her versus Trump. But unless the only other candidate running in the Democratic primary was a dead slug, I can’t imagine voting for her then. Unless she can come to the debates with a sincere display that she understands the most important issues the country faces, if she shows that there is actual substance to what she says beneath the sheen of what I imagine would be her super-inspiring campaign, she wouldn’t get my vote. We don’t need another showperson who can’t be bothered to learn the names of heads of state.

Even more, she’d have to do something to convince a voter like me that she is capable of overseeing US health policy in spite of her endorsement and elevation of quacks like Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz. And she’d have to explain herself a bit more thoroughly when it comes to a piece of shit like Grover Norquist getting excited at the idea of her running:

Perhaps most of all, I have a hard time believing that Winfrey is the kind of person who would want to be personally responsible for people’s deaths, and as President of the United States, she invariably would be. Trump doesn’t mind ordering a military strike because he doesn’t care about anyone’s life except his own (and maybe his children’s). Clinton has a record of endorsing military intervention. Maybe I don’t know something about Winfrey, but she doesn’t strike me as that kind of person.

I prefer Winfrey to the Rock or Kanye or Mark Cuban, but if that’s the way the country is going, I’ll just stop voting altogether.

Trump Treats Everyone the Way He Treats Kim Jong-un

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Gary Abernathy seems to really enjoy the insane tweets that Donald Trump writes about North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (“Trump is right to bully America’s enemies,” Washington Post, 1/7/2018):

In recent years, anti-bullying campaigns have become standard fare in high school and college. Our society has decided, rightly, that bullies should no longer be tolerated because their hurtful attacks can lead to lifelong scars and even, in extreme cases, suicide by the victims.

Likewise, Donald Trump, as both a candidate and president, has been accused of being a bully, his critics attacking him for his bluster and insensitivity.

It seems the only bullies who remain off limits — in the eyes of media critics, numerous politicians and many other Americans — are rogue-nation dictators and terrorist organizations. We should treat those bullies with kid gloves, many say.

Here’s Abernathy subconsciously mimicking Trump with the “many say” routine, only I can’t think of a single example of anyone who presents themselves as a serious person suggesting that we treat Kim Jong-un or anyone else with “kid gloves”—what they actually say is that we have to be cautious because these are dangerous people who could do a lot of harm, both to their own populations as well as to populations abroad. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to go out of your way to make sure you don’t carelessly provoke an unneeded military conflict, but hey, you tell us why inadvertently starting a nuclear crisis is good, Abernathy.

Trump’s approach — one for which millions of Americans have longed — is to treat them like the sniveling bullies they are. From his description of Kim as “Little Rocket Man” to his retorts to the dictator’s nuclear threats, Trump refuses to feign respect.

Well, yeah, Trump can barely feign respect for the Bible, so it shouldn’t be difficult to lash out at a foreign dictator. But the problem isn’t just that he’s poking at a nuclear-armed country with childish taunts, it’s that he treats American civilians the same way. He’s bullied the Khan family. Lavar Ball. The cast of Hamilton. Colin Kaepernick. And a litany of American politicians who have ever dared to criticize him for anything. He treats regular American citizens with the same level of contempt he does Kim Jong-un. He has more contempt and hatred for kneeling NFL players than he does the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville.

And Trump doesn’t treat all these foreign “bullies” the same. He’s friendly with Rodrigo Duterte, who allows the police to execute suspected drug users in the streets. Trump allowed himself to be dazzled by the treatment from the unelected leader of China, Xi Jinping. He approves of the authoritarian president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. And that’s to say nothing of his bizarre admiration for Vladimir Putin, a man whose critics keep turning up dead.

But more to the point, Abernathy’s argument falls flat when we consider that Trump is highly susceptible to flattery. If Kim Jong-un had made a statement praising the strength of Donald Trump (we know this wouldn’t happen, but I’m just trying to make the point), he’d probably call Jong-un his friend and praise him for being such a stand-up guy. After all, he doesn’t seem to mind the adoration of racists.

The Jake Tapper Interview Proves Why Trump Advisers Shouldn’t Be on TV

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CNN host Jake Tapper had White House adviser Stephen Miller on his show, and as Tapper quickly found out, Miller (unsurprisingly) wasn’t interested in actually answering questions. If you can stand it, you can watch here:

There’s really nothing interesting that I can add to the clip, but it’s worth pointing out that this is a perfect example of why no one from the Trump administration should be invited to speak on a live news/political program. Miller (like Kellyanne Conway or any other Trump toady) didn’t go on Tapper’s show in order to have an honest conversation and try to make Trump’s case; he went on in order to regurgitate pre-established talking points in order to continue the Trump administration’s campaign of delegitimizing the media. It’s bad enough that Fox News has transformed itself into Trump TV (so much so that Trump doesn’t have to establish the outlet himself), so we don’t need institutions like CNN to serve as a launching pad for absurd Trumpian rants.

Yes, good for Tapper for stopping the interview when it got too dumb to take. But ending an interview like that gives Trump and all his right-wing acolytes the ability to claim ridiculous stuff like this:

But at least there’s this delicious bit:

White House adviser Stephen Miller was escorted off the set of CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday after a contentious interview with host Jake Tapper.

Two sources close to the situation told Business Insider that after the taping was done Miller was asked to leave several times.

He ignored those requests and ultimately security was called and he was escorted out, the sources said.

There’s always a silver lining.

It Looks Like Trump Supporters Only Trust Fox News

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I came across a tweet from Public Policy Polling that I found interesting:

So I searched around a bit on their website and came across the poll in question. The full results you can view here. Now, the data is almost a year old, so who knows how it would compare to a poll conducted today, but the results are striking enough that a major shift is something I would have to see with my own eyes. And to be honest, these results surprised me quite a bit.

PPP asked whether voters trusted a number of news sources and media outlets, four of which are right-wing propaganda outlets: Fox News, InfoWars, Breitbart, and the Daily Caller. (They also asked voters about ABC, NBC, CBS, New York Times, and CNN.) Unsurprisingly, Trump voters have a lot of faith in Fox News:

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But what’s more surprising is their reaction to the three other right-wing outlets:

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That so few Trump voters find any of these sources credible is a relief (and I find it humorous and totally unsurprising that Gary Johnson voters are most likely to find InfoWars credible, especially given the few libertarians I know). Still, I don’t think this is proof positive that they have little to no effect.

The conspiracy theories that get tossed around on sites like InfoWars sometimes find themselves getting sucked up and spewed out by sources Trump voters do find credible, namely Fox News and Trump himself (and Trump often regurgitates Fox News talking points). Fox News rehashed the InfoWars idea that the FBI were plotting to assassinate Trump. Sean Hannity has interviewed pro-Trump InfoWars contributors. Fox News has adapted to and accommodated the white supremacist ideology of Breitbart.

So maybe Trump voters don’t trust the likes of Breitbart when they know the story is coming straight from there. But the kinds of “stories” that Breitbart covers invariably get co-opted by the sources Trump voters do trust, and so the stories get legitimized, so the idea that the majority of the vast right-wing media is ineffective is questionable at best. I’m glad most people don’t trust InfoWars, but the kinds of conspiracies they push are largely the same as those from Fox News and the president, so what difference does it make?

A Note About That New York Times Trump Interview

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Take a look at the interview Trump did with the New York Times a week ago and see if you notice anything interesting. You know what? I’ll make it easy for you and do a bit of highlighting (“Excerpts From Trump’s Interview With The Times,” New York Times, 12/28/2017):

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That’s 23 times Trump mentions “collusion” without interviewer Michael Schmidt saying it even once. This isn’t something you do when you’re convinced there’s nothing to the claims.

There are those who, no matter what evidence comes to light, will never believe that Trump did anything wrong or illegal; even if they do, they’ll approve of it because it prevented Clinton from being elected.

What’s clear, though, is that we already know the Trump campaign attempted to coordinate with the Russians. Trump’s team asked for stolen documents that they knew were stolen. That is illegal. It is a crime.

That said, at the moment, I don’t see anything to suggest that clear, undeniable evidence of direct coordination with Russia in order to sabotage the election will result in Trump’s ouster; perhaps as time goes on my perspective will change. But I have to say, with Republicans focusing their attention on pulling stunts like this

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I have a hard time believing anyone who’s done anything wrong will receive their just punishment.

Yes, Trumpism Can Survive Without Trump

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McKay Coppins and Rosie Gray have a strange reaction to Trump severing ties with Steve Bannon, thinking that it could be a definitive nail in the coffin for “Trumpism without Trump” (“The Death of ‘Trumpism Without Trump,'” The Atlantic, 1/4/2018):

While many doubted Bannon’s sincerity—detractors have long dismissed him as a cynical opportunist—his project was not without precedent. When, half a century ago, the conservative movement began taking control of the Republican Party, it was largely thanks to a network of think tanks, pressure groups, magazines, and commentators who had spent years articulating and popularizing their ideas. Bannon seemed to recognize that without a similar foundation, the unorthodox brand of populist nationalism that Trump campaigned on would struggle to achieve its goals, and be uprooted from Republican politics the moment the president left office.

The implication here is that that foundation wasn’t already in place, only of course it was. As I’ve pointed out here so many times that I can’t even remember, Trump is not an anomaly. It would have been one thing if Trump had never said anything even remotely racist during the campaign and then suddenly went full white nationalist the second he was sworn in. But Trump’s racism was an intrinsic part of his appeal, what countless supporters in countless newspaper profiles described as “telling it like it is,” meaning it was a narrative and a reality that they already understood and had internalized. Part of that can be attributed to their own lives—maybe their family and friends are racist—but there has been Fox News and right-wing radio and right-wing websites for decades now. And guess what? They don’t spend a whole lot of time saying how great minorities are. It’s how we get “stories” on Fox News like this:

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One reason why writers like Gray and Coppins can get tied up in knots over the idea of “Trumpism without Trump” is because the phrase itself avoids what it is. “Trumpism” is just a way of saying white supremacy. Can white supremacy exist without Trump? Of course it can, and of course it will. The real question is whether another champion of it as popular as Trump will come along again soon enough after he’s gone to keep the flame alive and well in the national discourse. Considering the way the Republican party has genuflected to Trump and all his stupidity (despite what they supposedly say behind closed doors), there’s little reason to believe that at least a few jokers won’t give it a try.

Dana Loesch: Not at All Hypocritcal

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From January, 2016:

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And she writes:

Trump wrote in his book The America We Deserve that he supported a ban on “assault weapons.” Not until last year did he apparently reverse his position. As recently as a couple of years ago, Trump favored the liberal use of eminent-domain laws. He said that the ability of the government to wrest private property from citizens served “the greater good.” Is that suddenly a conservative principle?

Why is there a double standard when it comes to evaluating Donald Trump? Why are other politicians excoriated when they change their minds — as, for example, Rick Perry did on the question of whether HPV vaccinations in Texas should be compulsory — but when Trump suddenly says he’s pro-life, the claim is accepted uncritically? Why is it unconscionable for Ted Cruz to take and repay a loan from Goldman Sachs to help win a tough Senate race but acceptable for Donald Trump to take money from George Soros? Why is vetting Trump, as we do any other candidate, considered “bashing”? Aren’t these fair questions?

Just a few years ago, I, along with many others, was receiving threats for promoting conservative policies and conservative principles — neither of which Donald Trump seems to care about. Yet he’s leading.

Popularity over principle — is this the new Right?

Dana Loesch: Straight-shooter, not hypocritical at all, no sir.

I Have No Idea What Steve Bannon’s Strategy Is

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Leaked excerpts from Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, have been causing quite a stir:

Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon has described the Trump Tower meeting between the president’s son and a group of Russians during the 2016 election campaign as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”, according to an explosive new book seen by the Guardian.

Bannon, speaking to author Michael Wolff, warned that the investigation into alleged collusion with the Kremlin will focus on money laundering and predicted: “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”

Bannon added:

“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”

And:

Bannon also speculated that Trump Jr had involved his father in the meeting. “The chance that Don Jr did not walk these jumos up to his father’s office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero.”

All of which drew an official response from the White House, because Donald Trump is so sensitive that he can’t let something like this go unchecked:

Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party.

Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country. Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans. Steve doesn’t represent my base—he’s only in it for himself.

Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was. It is the only thing he does well. Steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me and only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue, whom he helped write phony books.

So, for the time being, it appears that Trump is severing ties with the political strategist, going so far as to downplay his role in the administration by referring to Bannon as a mere “staffer.”

To be honest, I don’t know what Bannon’s strategy is here, and though I’m sure Bannon has some cockamamie scheme in which this is just one part, I can’t imagine it’ll work out for him because he’s some sort of genius. If this move somehow works out in Bannon’s favor, it’ll be by accident. I say that because so far, he’s not only lost the ear of the president, he’s also taking a beating from the regular folk who once idolized him.

In a Breitbart piece reporting that Bannon referred to Trump as a “great man” on the Breitbart program News Tonight, some readers left comments that were less-than-stellar for Bannon:

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Not only that, but Bannon has also lost the support of his major donors:

Bannon has in recent weeks also alienated his main financial backer, Rebekah Mercer, after he told several other major conservative donors that he would be able to count on the Mercers’ financial support should he run for president, a person familiar with the conversations said. The person said Mercer now does not plan to financially support Bannon’s future projects — and that she was frustrated by his moves in Alabama and some of his comments in the news media that seemed to stoke unnecessary fights.

It’s not surprising that, when asked to pick between Bannon and Trump, the on-the-ground supporters are going to pick Trump. It’s not surprising that after Bannon attacks the Trump family, Trump picks his family. It’s not surprising that, having lost some of their prestige over their backing of Trump and especially Moore, the Mercers would rather spend their money elsewhere.

So I don’t know what Bannon was thinking when he decided to make disparaging remarks about the Trump administration to a writer who was obviously going to publish them. To my knowledge, we don’t know when these conversations took place, and we don’t know how accurate they are because author Michael Wolff isn’t the most reliable source, although Wolff claims that he has hours of recordings of Bannon and others. My guess is that if these conversations happened long enough ago, Bannon was miffed that he’d been fired but still figured he could do well in the race in Alabama, especially since his candidate defeated Trump’s in the primary. Now that that hasn’t worked out, the revealing of these comments is just adding fuel to Bannon’s recent streak of defeat fire.

Honestly, it’s probably not worth trying to figure out what Bannon’s trying to accomplish here. What’s important is that a rift has been opened between Trump and one of his biggest supporters, and it makes both of them look even worse.