Almost every spare minute I’ve had these past several weeks have been spent at 209 Pearl Street, getting ready for the launch of Landline Creative Labs. Had this been happening at any other time in my life, I might be tempted to complain about the workload, but, given the political situation in the United States today, I’m finding it a welcomed distraction. If I weren’t spending my nights hauling garbage, mopping floors and painting walls, I’d probably just be at home, obsessively reading my newsfeed, scribbling incoherent notes while mumbling to myself. As it is, though, I’m kind of blissfully unaware, lacking both the time and the energy to worry, like I usually do, about the direction of the country. I’m sure that will change once we’re open, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts… With that said, though, I have, over the course of the past week or so, heard two stories about White House strategist Steve Bannon that I feel compelled to at least here, as I think they really demonstrate not only the confrontational nature of our emerging totalitarian government, but also their complete ineptitude.
First, it’s being reported that it was Bannon’s idea last week, when German Chancellor Angela Merkel was visiting the White House, to have President Trump present her with a bill for more than $300 billion, money supposedly owed to NATO by her country. The gesture, as you might imagine, was greeted with outrage by our allies… Regardless of whether or not it’s true that Germany has fallen short in its contributions to NATO since 2002, it was an incredibly crude and shortsighted gesture that, you can be sure, will have significant implications down the road. But, who knows… maybe it’s all part of the Putin’s masterplan to destroy NATO, the only entity he sees as a real threat to his ever-expanding power.
And, second, in case you missed it, apparently one big reason why the administration failed to rally Republican support for Trumpcare is that Bannon attempted to strong-arm the far-right members of the party, telling them that, if they didn’t vote for the legislation, he’d see them driven from office. [Word is that Bannon has started an “enemies list“.] According to reports, Bannon, addressing the members of the so-called Freedom Caucus, said, Guys, look. This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill.” Well, it didn’t go over so well with the members of the group, who, it would seem, don’t care much for ultimatums. According to a story published the following day, one of the members replied to Bannon: “You know, the last time someone ordered me to something, I was 18 years old. And it was my daddy. And I didn’t listen to him, either.” And, unsurprisingly, the administration had to pull the bill before it went to the floor of the House for a vote, as they knew it would fail to pass… I think former Congressman Joe Scarborough summed up the this showdown between Bannon and the Freedom Caucus on Twitter. “The dictatorial mindset is laughable,” he said. “They kicked his teeth in.”
I’m not suggesting, by sharing these stories, that Bannon isn’t a threat. He clearly is. The more time that goes by, though, the more I think it’s possible that his hubris and utter contempt for our institutions of government will be his undoing. This isn’t to say that serious damage won’t be done. It will be. Environmental safeguards will disappear. The gap between the rich and the poor in this country will expand. The military and our domestic police forces will grow as we stop funding the arts, services for the poor and elderly, etc. But I’m thinking that Bannon may fall short of his stated goal, which is to “destroy the state” through the systematic “deconstruction” of government. At least that’s my hope. I think, at the rate he’s going, he’ll wear out his welcome in D.C. pretty quickly.