If your first answer to the question in the headline is “Donald Trump,” think again. Trump is known to have a short attention span, and running the most powerful country on Earth takes some fairly high levels of concentration. Trump seems more than willing to delegate responsibility, as long as he is free to Tweet.
Even before his Cabinet positions were filled, Trump looked at a handful (no play on words intended here) of advisors to do more than advise. Steve Bannon has either risen to the top or was at the top since Paul Manafort stepped down due to exposure of his dealings with Russia. Some might speculate that Kellyann Conway is the brains behind the man, but Conway, time and time again, has simply restated, in ameliorating terms, Trump “policy,” dampening his inflammatory statements with overspeak. Policy work is actually difficult and requires reading, so, in all likelihood, Bannon is running the policy show.
What do we know about Steve Bannon, the Trump top advisor suddenly propelled to the most important National Security Council over the Joint Chiefs of Staff (who will only occasionally be invited to meetings)? Bannon is the Executive Chairman of Breibart News, a propaganda outlet of what was once far right wing commentary but has since, increasingly, become Republican mainstream talking points. Bannon is “on leave” from Beitbard, likely in the same way that Trump is “on leave” from running his companies that his grown children are running.
Bannon is a known anti-Semite, a misogynist, and racist, white supremacist. All of these derogatory terms in connection with Bannon have well-documented evidence. A look at Bannon’s biography might help explain why Trump chose to omit the words Jews or Jewish in connection with International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is likely that Bannon and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, have developed an uneasy alliance for a means to an end. One hopes for Kushner’s sake that he was at least a little queasy when his father-in-law said, “It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust,” without ever speaking the words Jewish or Jews, more than 6,000,000 of them horrifically murdered under Hitler’s orders.
After listening to Trump’s remembrance speech, it would appear that the Holocaust happened to some nameless victims and heroes. Many groups, including the Anti-Defamation League were outraged at Trump’s statements. Trump supporters hoped that Trump’s statements were simply an omission by a not particularly articulate man, but in such a carefully worded statement, one that was sure to be scrutinized, it seems likely that it was drafted by Bannon.
Not familiar with Breitbart News? Take a Bannon headline for exactly what it is: “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew.” Bannon has openly categorized himself as a Leninist who seeks the destruction of all institutions and government. Bannon worked at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker (the irony should not be lost in those two statements). He has openly called progressive women “a bunch of dykes.” He has stated, “What we need to do is bitch slap the Republican Party.” He was previously charged with “misdemeanor domestic violence, battery, and dissuading a witness.” When his ex-wife did not appear in court, the case against him was dismissed.
That same wife stated that Bannon was anti-Semitic and said, “”The biggest problem he had with Archer is the number of Jews that attend.” White supremacist groups and the KKK leadership praise Bannon’s name. “You have an individual, Mr. Bannon, who’s basically creating the ideological aspects of where we’re going,” said David Duke. The Chairman of the American Nazi Party, Rocky J. Suhayda, wrote about Trump’s pick of Bannon as “a call to action.” According to the Southern Poverty Law Center,” Bannon was the “main driver behind Breitbart becoming a white ethno-nationalist propaganda mill.”
Bannon has made actual news organizations—not propaganda sites like his own— the enemy because truth will expose him. Earlier in January this year, he claimed that the media is the “opposition party. The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut,” he told the New York Times.
When even a conservative commentator like Glenn Beck calls Bannon a “nightmare” and a “terrifying man,” we should, perhaps, have a few concerns about leaving our national security in his hands.
Nancy Avery Dafoe
Newspaper sources for this editorial include The New York Times, CNN, the AP, The Washington Post, The Hill, Breitbart News, and Mother Jones.