By ann summers
Joshua Green’s book Devils Bargain contains a hypothetical about Bannon’s failure to drive yet another wedge in the Democrats is a bit fantastic because the havoc aimed at immigration was always a much easier lift at the beginning considering how poorly Trump handled the GOP establishment.
Where it failed was not doing the implementation preparation which put a “Muslim Ban” in place as RW message but lacking tactical plannning. It was enacted without the operational work that could smoothly get the CBP/ICE as an administrative agency to operate efficiently, It obfuscated the reality that Trump was merely protecting his specific Muslim-nation business interests. Bannon truly believed or at least had Trump believe that he could use Executive Orders to rule by fiat and/or magical thinking.
Trump’s stupidity about the Southern Wall and domestic manufacturing and mining jobs has shown how that would never have worked out considering he doesn’t even know how many people work in some sectors, as in the mythical 45,000 jobs he never created. RW fantasies of anti-climate change resource policy ignorant of science have been assimilated uncritically because the world can be made into Trump golf courses, as long as there’s enough cops to keep poor people at bay.
The GOP Congress has acted like free-riders and wreaked the same bit of dishonest foolishness they tried in their constant attempts to repeal/replace ACA, since their goal has always been to dismantle all such programs in order to maximize short-term profit.
Their squabbling has proven to be their greatest weakness, since they have been reduced to making less confident and less consistent ideological defenses of Trumpism as Lord Dampnut can be expected to always screw up his initiatives whether as staff work or as messaging. It is Trumpism by Proxy, in the midst of a TrumpRussia cover-up.
The biggest linchpin failure has come from the Priebus side of the operation, whose fear of Bannonist RW extremism has made GOP legislative initiatives weak, demonstrated by today’s 48-4 “loss” assumed by Trump and probably among others, that Democrats don’t exist. 2018 should prove that delusion false.
Amazingly, things almost went another direction, one that could have resulted in the Trump presidency looking very different that it does today.
According to reporter Joshua Green’s new book Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency, Democrats were initially worried that Trump might actually fulfill the populist promise of his campaign, shattering decades-long voting coalitions and ushering in a political realignment that could cement the G.O.P. as the party of working people for a generation.
Key to the plan, as outlined by Bannon, was to combine a raft of nationalist policies—including restricting immigration and imposing tariffs—with a populist platform of increased government spending on military and infrastructure.
The result, Bannon predicted, would make conservatives “go crazy,” forging an “economic nationalist movement” that would be “greater than the Reagan Revolution.”
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer was among the Democrats worried that the administration would actually follow through with its pledge to make Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan its first big initiative, potentially driving a wedge through the party base between the “resistance” and blue-collar, union voters. “I know what you’re doing, and I’m not going to let it happen,” he warned Bannon, according to Green’s book.
Of course, as it turns out, Schumer didn’t need to worry. For one, Trump decided instead to expand his initial political capital on a deeply divisive effort to ban immigrants from several majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S., sparking a major protest movement that effectively guaranteed he would not have meaningful Democratic support for the remainder of his presidency.
For another, Trump severely miscalculated how difficult it would be to govern, leading him to make a number of political missteps. “I deal with people that are very extraordinarily talented people,” Trump told Green, per Axios. “I deal with Steve Wynn. I deal with Carl Icahn.
I deal with killers that blow these [politicians] away. It’s not even the same category. This”—politics—“is a category that’s like 19 levels lower. You understand what I’m saying? Brilliant killers.”
As Trump’s failure to pass any major legislation in his first six months in office proves, politics, like health care, turned out to be more “complicated” than he thought.
His first infrastructure initiative, an unexciting measure to privatize the air-traffic control system—hardly the “revolution” Bannon anticipated—has already run into trouble in Congress, in what could end up being a major embarrassment for the administration.
Instead of moving forward with the trillion-dollar infrastructure investment Trump promised, Republicans are back to squabbling over whether and how to keep the lights on when the government runs out of money this fall.
If Schumer had known this is what Trump had up his sleeve, he wouldn’t have confronted Bannon about letting it happen.