Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
President Trump’s mental incoherence has a clinical character and Dr. Stephen Bannon has just the cure: “Pay no attention to the orange-haired man tweeting at you; at least not when Breitbart News tells you not to.”
The sartorially challenged Goldman Sachs veteran, now running Breitbartafter a failed attempt to run the U.S. government, is responding to the new political reality diagnosed by Bill Maher: Trump isn’t bipartisan; he’s bipolar.
Ever since the failed casino cashier in the Oval Office embraced Democratic congressional leaders in his desperate search for something he can call a “win,” this psychological assessment has proven more accurate than Washington’s wishful thinking.
Trump isn’t seeking ideological compromise when he plays footsie with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. He’s acting out the insecurities baked into his unstable mental condition, leaving bewildered disciples like Ann Coulterwondering if they should impeach him, or go with the flow of the base voters, who shrug and say, in effect, “It’s fine with us, if he wants to help some immigrants.”
Dr. Bannon’s Prescription
For confused conservatives, Bannon provides a comforting service, spinning presidential incoherence into ideological purity.
If this means occasionally condescending to his former boss, well, Bannon knows how to do that. During the presidential campaign, he told a colleague in multiple conversations that Trump was an “imperfect vessel” for the anti-globalist, racially chauvinist revolution Bannon had in mind.
At Breitbart News, it is Bannon, not Trump, who determines what is truly Trumpian.
Consider the September 26 Senate Republican primary in Alabama. Trump has endorsed incumbent Luther Strange, appointed to the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and will campaign for him this week.
But Strange is not the Trump candidate, according to Bannon, who has ordered Breitbart to step up its attacks on him as a pro-amnesty creature of the Republican establishment.
The true Trump candidate, according to Breitbart, is the man not supported by Trump: Judge Roy Moore, the fanatical Christian fundamentalist who was booted from the Alabama bench for his defiance of a federal court order about the separation of church and state. Breitbart’s coverage of him is relentlessly positive.
It’s a curious situation, as one Breitbart correspondent noted:
“What makes all of this even more odd is that Trump himself is heading down here to Alabama on Friday to campaign for Strange in the Huntsville area, despite the fact that Moore is more in line with the principles he espoused over the course of the campaign. Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to campaign for Strange next Monday here in the state.”
What’s odder still is that Trump and Pence are not considered by Bannon to be the best judge of their own principles. Bannon is.
Ditto for DACA (Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals).
Trump signaled he is open to a deal to protect the 800,000 Dreamers with a rare statement of decency:
Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 14, 2017
The Trumpian position, according to Breitbart, is the one Trump has indicated he does not support: Deport the Dreamers to create jobs for black men.
What is emerging is a Trump Party that is distinct from the president.
“You don’t have to call it the Trump Party,” Coulter told Breitbart this week, “but it would be the Trump Party because of the issues Donald Trump won on.”
That’s the party Bannon is building at Breitbart. His escalation of negative coverage of the Alabama Senate race is intended to send a message to his former boss: “You control the Trump White House, but I control the Trump Party. You are the king, but I am the kingmaker.”
Jefferson Morley is AlterNet’s Washington correspondent. He is the author of the forthcoming biography The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton (St. Martin’s Press, October 2017) and the 2016 Kindle ebook CIA and JFK: The Secret Assassination Files.