Donald Trump has a new campaign manager, the third in as many months. His new campaign chairman will be Stephen (what, another Steve?) Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News, superseding Paul Manafort, who has been demoted to 2nd banana, though he retains his title. Distancing himself completely from Manafort would probably have been wise, as Manafort is likely to have his own set of troubles soon in light of his ties to Russia and the Ukraine. Also promoted to campaign manager is Kellyanne Conway, CEO of The Polling Company, Inc., and an occasional commentator for CNN, Fox, and other networks.
I see this ‘shake up’ as a last ditch effort to salvage a sinking ship, but one that I first thought unlikely to reverse the current trend. When Corey Lewandowski was ‘fired’ and replaced by Paul Manafort, the goal of Manafort was to ‘tone down’ the trumpeter. In essence, Manafort was to become Trump’s handler, to keep him from sinking his own ship with his inappropriate language, hate speech, and lies that were, obviously, beginning to turn off the American public. Well, I think we can safely say that Manafort failed miserably in that task. Since Manafort became campaign chairman, Trump has mocked an upstanding Muslim-American Gold Star family, incited 2nd amendment supporters to “do something” about Hillary Clinton, told so many lies that even Politifact has trouble keeping up with them, and more. To his credit, if he deserves any, Manafort may have taken on an impossible challenge and sources close to him report that he is extremely frustrated by Trump’s refusal to tone down his message.
The selection of Bannon as campaign chairman signals that Trump has decided he prefers not to be reined in, as Bannon is a pugilistic sort, and those in the know expect him to encourage Trump to continue, or even step up his naturally obnoxious persona. Trump is said to blame his sliding poll numbers on attempts by Manafort and others to rein in his unpredictable campaign style with a more professional approach. We have not seen any significant reining in or professionalism since Manafort took over, and it appears that Trump simply will not or cannot see that he himself is the iceberg that is sinking his Titanic. Enter Bannon, whose personality and brashness seem to match Trump’s quite well. In reading more than I would have liked about Bannon, I find that he cannot speak more than two sentences without using the f-bomb. I am not above tossing out the f-word, however I do not see it as a necessary part of professional speech.
However, I think there is much more to the selection of Bannon than to encourage Trump to be Trump. Nobody really needed to do that. The more I read, the more I see Bannon as a manipulator, and not one with good intentions. If an article by Bloomberg published last October is accurate, Bannon seeks to destroy those who oppose him. Again, if the article is to be believed, and I know of no reason it isn’t, Bannon was instrumental in exposing Anthony Wiener, and also in the publication of two books intended to discredit Hilary Clinton and Jeb Bush. Rather than build a Trump campaign on policy, diplomacy and positive ideologies, I believe that Bannon was brought on board to attempt to undermine and ultimately destroy Hillary Clinton’s campaign. It is the only hope Trump has of winning the election, and in his words, “I am committed to doing whatever it takes to win this election.”
Bannon is the founding chairman of an organization called the Government Accountability Institute (GAI). GAI’s president is Peter Schweizer, a long-time Bannon associate and coincidentally, the author of the two aforementioned books, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich (2015) and Bush Bucks: How Public Service and Corporations Helped Make Jeb Rich (2015). Bannon also has dealings with other down-and-dirty types, such as the white supremacist organization Alt-Right.
Trump has run a dirty campaign for the past 14 months, and it would seem that it is about to get even more so. He has no real platform, at least not of his own making. His advisors have scrambled trying to build a credible platform, however they have failed miserably. Trump himself seems intent on putting forth a message that contains large portions of both fear and hate and nothing much more substantive. And now he has named a chief advisor who is known to operate in filth and in the shadowy underworld of hacking and destroying others. Bloomberg once referred to Bannon as the “most dangerous political operative in America”, and I am not so certain they were wrong. The evidence of the evil and underhanded dealings of Mr. Bannon is far too extensive for this blog post, but there are two articles I would suggest, the first being the Bloomberg article (link above) and the other an article written by a former Breitbart writer, Ben Shapiro. Ben Shapiro on Stephen Bannon. Both of these articles gave me insight into Stephen Bannon, who he is, how he operates.
They also gave me chills. Trump is on a collision course with disaster, a veritable Titanic, and nobody put him on that path but himself. But he is not above using underhanded methods and shadowy figures in an attempt to destroy Ms. Clinton in the final 8-week countdown to election day. The Trump campaign has no clear and viable economic policy, no intelligent foreign policy, and his domestic policy is against every ethnic group, against women, against the disabled, and favours only white, working class males. If kept above-board and relatively honest, he could not possibly win. But they say “all’s fair in love and war”, and I fear Trump sees this election as a war and is taking that saying quite literally.