The most dangerous man in America – perhaps in the world –  right now is not Donald J. Trump; it might not even be Kim Jung Un. The most dangerous man in this country is Steven K. Bannon, former White House Chief Strategist and self-anointed visionary of the Alt-Right.

In between gritting his teeth and clenching his jaw during an interview with Charlie Rose on 60 Minutes this past Sunday, Bannon vowed to “take the fight to the people we need to take the fight to.” He didn’t quite define who the “we” are; presumably, he and the purveyors of “real news” he oversees at Breitbart News. Nor was he clear about what the fight is or who exactly the people he wants to take his fight to are.

Are they White Supremacists, anti-Semites, Neo-Nazis? While not the president’s sole constituency, they are among the base who embrace the president’s nationalist philosophy. Or is it Steve Bannon’s philosophy? Bannon is unclear. During the course of the 60 Minutes interview, he condemns racists and Neo-Nazis; stating that he and the president appeal to “an American people. Working class people in this country.”

When candidate Trump stated he was “the least prejudiced person you’ll ever meet,” he may actually have believed it, just as he is able to convince himself of so many of the untruths he spouts. It seems, however, that the now-president may have torn a page from the Book of Bannon, the apocalyptic tome that incites people to rise up in the streets and take back “their” country. Bannon says “the mainstream media can call me an anti-Semite, a racist, a nativist. They can call me anything they want.” Because, he says, he isn’t any of those things. He denounces and condemns all hate groups.

To paraphrase a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Bannon “doth protest too much, methinks.” This is the same Steve Bannon who objected to enrolling his twin daughters in a private girls’ school in Los Angeles because, according to court documents, he didn’t want them attending classes with “whiny brat” Jews.

I come to bury Bannon, not praise him (there goes that Shakespeare guy in me again). Bannon says he holds the people in Washington in total and complete contempt. That they’re idiots. Bush, Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Obama, former Director of National Security James Clapper… the whole lot of them. He says he wants to go to war with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan. He didn’t like it when McConnell told the president he needed to back off the “drain the Swamp” thing to get things done. While McConnell may have been myopic in his belief that he could exercise control over this president, he did have a point.

The president and Congress needed to work together to pass a legislative agenda that included repealing and replacing healthcare (hah-hah), cutting taxes, and providing funds for infrastructure. McConnell and Ryan knew and know this. Whether we like the institutions of government or not (Bannon loathes them), a sense of equilibrium must be maintained to get anything done. Clearly, that balance doesn’t exist, because nothing is getting done in Washington.

Bannon blames the swamp and “the elites” for these failures. Funny, the president has filled the swamp to the brim with just the sort of swamp rats and elites he and Bannon proposed ridding it of. In fact, despite Bannon’s self-described working class Irish-Catholic roots, he himself holds degrees from Virginia Tech, Georgetown, and Harvard; sounds elite to me.

Bannon made millions on Wall Street, first at Goldman Sachs (former home of two other administration elites, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and the president’s chief economic advisor Gary Cohn) and then at his own boutique investment bank. There, he specialized in financing media ventures. Interesting that he made even more millions from the media he professes to loathe. Bannon is not just a former resident of the swamp, he appears to be a contrarian Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Getting back to Bannon’s disdain for the mainstream media. He claims that it is responsible for the president’s inability to get things done, what with their focus on all those nasty allegations of collusion with the Russian government and questionable business deals with Russian oligarchs and organized crime figures. Bannon says in the 60 Minutes interview that there’s “nothing to the Russia investigation… it’s a waste of time… a total and complete farce.” Darn that “fake news,” they get it wrong every single time.

Bannon says the narrative of the swamp-ridden mainstream elitist media is “dead wrong.” Because in the world of Steven K. Bannon and Breitbart “News,” only their narrative is right, accurate and truthful. Because it fits with their so-called populist, nationalist, nativist agenda.

This is Steven K. Bannon’s narrative. This is what is true to Breitbart readers and the web-based aggregators who spew Bannon’s distorted perception of reality. Steve Bannon loves chaos. He believes it is an agent of change. He believes he’s a tough street-smart fighter who, through his attempts to spin and wrest control from the elites and swamp dwellers, will return this country to its “citizens” and make America great again. With the president’s help, of course.

Steven K. Bannon believes our government and political institutions must be torn down in order to rebuild this country in his image from the ground up. That’s the kind of change Bannon believes in. It’s the kind of change that borders on anarchy. The kind we saw in Charlottesville. Tread lightly, America.

© Blair Bess 2017

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