Monday, July 25, 2022

Reputation Is In The Eye Of The Beholder πŸ‘

After all, Bannon is a talented propagandist. With Trump's help, he was able to remake the GOP in the image of the site he used to run, Breitbart.

Which came first:  the monkey-brain eating (credit Charlie Pierce) GOP prion disease that infected the whole party?  Or Steve Bannon taking over Breitbart,  a website I can guarantee the majority of Americans have hever heard of (when they've all heard of Sean Hannity)?

Trump didn't start anything in the GOP, he is the apotheosis of a process the party let slip with Newt Gingrich (although maybe we should go back to Ronald Reagan, who after all set the template of the caretaker Presidency that W. then emulated.  It was Reagan's administration where Cheney and Rumsfeld came of age, after all.  And Poppy's admin. was just for more years of the same.  Gingrich came to power because the right wing was pissed that Clinton cut off their access to the Oval Office; that's all.  Whole sight, people.)  And Steve Bannon was never a propagandist, although he seems to fancy himself a power behind the throne, never the guy on the throne.  He was (and is) a legend in his own mind who scared people who had no clue how government actually works and thought he might actually lead the revolution from behind the microphone on a podcast that probably has an audience of tens; or hundreds.

As if.

The fight in America right now is between people below the age of 50 and people above (roughly).  We are deep into this phenomenon of people living past 65 (the retirement age was set when most people didn't live much past 60.  Watch a "Twilight Zone" episode from merely 60 years ago.  "Old" people in those episodes always look like they have one foot in the grave, or their old and doddering and easily discombobulated, and they're never identified as being as old as 70.  Being in their '60's is plenty old enough to be "over the hill" and bound for the knacker's shop any day.  I'm just surprised somebody on the intertoobs hasn't devoted a website to the portrayals of "old age" in TV shows that would never be allowed today.).  This simple fact of life we now take for granted (my grandfathers didn't make it to 70; this was not considered unusual.  My father lived to be 90 mostly because of heart surgeries and modern medicines.  I expect to outlive my father's life span, easily.).  But it means "old people" are still around and still voicing their opinions and some of those opinions are, well...hidebound.

Which is not to say all Boomers were hippies in the '60's and yuppies in the '70's and Reaganites in the '80's.  There actually weren't ever that many politically liberal boomers; and I'm not sure Millenials are uniformly progressives, either.  But they grew up with Roe and accept gay marriage without qualm and can't begin to fathom state control of contraceptives.  Of course the people screaming for that are, at best, middle aged, so we can't blame everything on a neat division into age cohorts.  Or maybe none of this means anything.

After all, the young college kids who escaped the draft (college deferments) were more strenuously against the war than their parents were.  And more interested in civil rights, which meant upsetting the social applecart far more than gay marriage does today (mostly because civil rights went far beyond the Loving decision, which nobody carps about even today).  So it's probably more reasonable to say that fight is what it's always been over:  racism.  Nothing else really riles people up in America than the question of race, and the way we face that is to deny it's ever about race, which just proves that's exactly what it's about.

Denial is not a river in Egypt.

And Steve Bannon is not a threat to anyone, except Steve Bannon.

So when he started to paint a picture of how he would use this trial to champion his cause, much as Hitler used his trial for treason to build up his public image, smart people were reasonably worried. Salon's own Heather "Digby" Parton even wrote at the time that "being indicted for defying Congress is the best thing that ever happened to him" and that Bannon may "turn any trial into a spectacle in order to foment more chaos."

I'm sorry but "smart people" in that sentence can only be the ones who know the trial of the Chicago 7 from Aaron Sorkin's version.  Believe me, it played a lot scarier in the headlines at the time.  And it turns out (Sorkin used trial transcripts for most of the courtroom stuff), it was rather dull.  Trials usually are.  "Smart people" knew Bannon never had a snowball's chance of turning that misdemeanor trial into Hitler after the Beer Hall Putsch.  I've heard of state court trials getting out of hand, and seen some former Texas AG's preen like a peacock in the courtroom (stunts no lesser, non-celebrity, lawyer would have gotten away with), but federal trial courts are a different beast.  I saw a federal judge give a case of first impression (product liability against two defense contractors, for wrongful death of a test pilot), a case that should have taken 3 weeks (and would have, in state court), 5 days.  3 for the plaintiff, one each for each defendant.  The jury was back by Saturday evening, and the judge went back to Pecos to try a case there. You don't fuck around with federal judges.

Which anyone watching Bannon's trial had figured out before it started.  No trial judge was ever going to let Bannon "foment chaos."  And even if he had, the majority of people would be saying "Bannon who?"  The trial of the Chicago 7 fomented headlines; but it was hardly the basis for a new revolution.  Bannon's trial had only one defendant, and only one issue:  did he comply with the subpoena, or not?  One wonders why Bannon insisted on a jury in the first place.  I'm sure the jury wondered.  They were not waiting to be swayed by Bannon's pyrotechnics.  They were waiting for someone to explain why they had to waste their time.

There's a lesson in this that could be applied to the entire pantheon of Trumpist leaders: They talk a big game, but if they face real consequences, they turn out to be paper tigers.

No shit, Sherlock.  When, in his entire career, did Donald Trump not fold like a cheap suit at the first sign of real authority?  Did no one see how he behaved around Kim Jong Un?  Putin?  Orban? Trump couldn't even exercise authority.  All the talk now is how Trump will "kill" the civil service and excise thousands of federal jobs with an EO once he's back in the Oval Office.  Apparently it took people 6 years to figure out a POTUS could do that (it's dubious that he could, actually).  Trump flailed during Covid, never really using the power he had to do anything, except hold mindless press conferences where he blamed everybody else on earth, took no responsibility for his job and its powers, and told us to consider bleach and blacklight as cures.  This is the guy to be afraid of?  Why?

And Bannon never worked for him.  Bannon was canned shortly after the administration took office (although memory tells me it was before, when Bannon was injudicious enough before the 2016 election to claim some credit for Trump's campaign successes). Bannon operates a podcast nobody would have heard of if the pundits of Twitter didn't keep telling us to listen to what he just said, and to be terribly afraid of his awful power.

What fucking power?

He's not even a "mighty warrior" behind the microphone.  He's a delusional blowhard who doesn't understand how anything works.  He declines to testify in his own defense, then berates people who don't testify entirely without catching the irony, and wholly ignoring the fact the judge told him he couldn't call Pelosi and Thompson as witnesses.  Were they supposed to boldly overrule the judge and insist on subjecting themselves to Bannon's counsel's cross-examination?

That's not how this works!  That's not how any of this works!!

Bannon is not bold and powerful.  He's delusional.  If he's persuasive, one is only persuaded to pity him and regard him as quite mad.  He rants like a spoiled child who's had his playtime denied him.  He's not scary; he's pathetic.  He's not inspiring, he's repellant.  One might as well believe Mike Lindell is going to bring down the very concept of elected government as believe Steve Bannon is anything but a non-entity famous only for his brief connection to a completely failed and disgraced President who will be remembered solely as the worst mistake the American electorate ever made.

And Bannon will be remembered, if at all, as:  "Who?"

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