Stephen Xavier Ignatius Torquemada "Steve" Bannon (born November 27, 1953) is a Catholic two-shirts political guru and Mexican wall specialist is currently facing jail time for pulling faces at the
Nuremberg Trials January 6th Commission (and maybe more). Best known for his relationship with President Donald Trump as the later's campaign manager, Bannon (who he?) was arrested by the US Post Office and Shark Patrol whilst about to flee the country in August 2020. He got out of that one with a Presidential pardon from Trump and a week of Hail Marys with a local Conservative Catholic church.
Despite looking like a man who has gone beyond alcoholism and is now into drinking undiluted bleach, Bannon's controversial opinions and open support for various hard right causes made him a favourite hate figure for progressives. He may hate the Liberals but loves fleecing the Conservatives. Bannon's fake GoFundMyWall charity was to make good the promise from Trump that Americans will pay for the wall on the frontier with Mexico. But Bannon was rumbled, and faced decades in jail if found guilty. Trump provided a presidential pardon. Steve could keep his shirts on for now.
Steve Bannon's background is in finance and film production. After leaving the US Navy, he managed to get a job at Goldman Sachs. It seems Bannon was able to use that connection to get involved with the film industry. Bannon was by this stage a supporter of Ronald Reagan but kept a lid on that affiliation when dealing with Hollywood, claiming he was a 'mild Conservative'.
It was during this time that Bannon acquired a reputation for backing winners. One of these was the Seinfeld tv show. He was then approached to film a documentary version of a book titled 'Ronald Reagan: The Man from God Who Saved the World from Communism. He called the documentary In the Face of Evil which portrayed Ronald Reagan is a superhero who had beaten every ungodly in the world, be they trade unions, the Democratic Party, Iran and the Soviet Union. If Reagan had been a Catholic, Bannon would have agitated to have made him St. Ronald.
These pro-Conservative videos didn't mean Bannon was a great fan of the Republican Party. He saw it as a slave to Globalism and a barrier to re-asserting American values free of anyone else and be able to manage the world as they saw fit. To Bannon, anyone who was opposed to this view was an ally of evil. It was that simple.
The documentary only got so-so reviews which Bannon blamed on the liberal media. It was then probably that he realised the answer was to create a 'conservative media' which would reliably support him. In the early 2000s this meant just Fox News and various evangelical organisations which, as a Catholic, he was theologically suspicious of. However, Bannon was keen to get their support if it helped his profile.
It was around about then he met Andrew Breitbart and his fledgling Brain Fart News. The two men hit if off. Both were angry at what they saw as the great Liberal Media Conspiracy and wanted to produce a news channel to challenge this. They also looked like brothers, the same dishevelled look like someone who had been sleeping on a lot of couches.
Breitbart now went turbo in its attacks on Muslims, accusing President Barack Obama of being a 'Kenyan' Communist and advocating a National Revolution to destroy the elites. It was around about this time Bannon started work on a film he titled American Carnage, a dystopian novel where a shit world gets a lot shittier before redemption comes from a blond superman with blow wave hair. When Breitbart died suddenly (or assassinated by Hillary Clinton), Bannon stepped in. He was going to put some real ideological/theological flesh to the Breitbart formula.
The website which had been somewhat caustic, anti-people-who-didn't-take-me-seriously into a full-on crusade to support the clash of civilisation thesis. For Bannon, his ideological enemies were Feminism, Islamism, liberalism and Pope Francis. The latter was added as Bannon saw hims as a quasi-Communist who had gone against the traditional enemies of Catholicism (i.e. any modern development since the French Revolution.
But Bannon was now looking to spread his messages. He then spotted an opportunity. Largely unimpressed with the Republican Party's candidates for the 2015-2016 presidential primaries, Bannon thought he saw an empty vessel to pour his ideas in. The businessman turned TV celebrity Donald Trump. The new (old kid) on the block was awash with various prejudices but had somehow kept this at bay with his nominal allegiance to the Democratic Party.
Brains of the Outfit?
Bannon saw his mission was to turn Donald Trump into a 21st century Charles Martel. Trump often joked that Bannon saw him as 'Charles Marvel', perhaps thinking this French guy was a super hero in spandex. He then laid out a plan for Trump to follow:
- Demonise Muslims except the rich ones (see Saudi Arabia.
- Attack the European Union as a rival enemy state.
- Attack China as a rival enemy state.
- Support Brexit-like nationalist movements if they are in our interest.
- Ally with Vladimir Putin.
- 'Own the Libs' everywhere.
- Depose Pope Francis as he was a communist.
This seemed a fair list to be getting on with. Joining Bannon on the Elect Trump team was a lowly minion with staring eyes like Gollum. This was Stephen Miller. He didn't care much for the religious angle (he was from an orthodox Jewish family) but was obsessed with Hispanics pouring into the USA as illegal immigrants.
Trump gave the campaign a go and amplfied all his attack points on Hillary Clinton. Bannon told Trump that any of his personal stuff would be forgotten if the presidential candidate just went with it. It worked. Trump was elected in November 2016. Bannon saw that his Nationalist-Religious agenda had been a winning coalition.
Once the election was out of the way, it was thought Bannon would retreat back into the shadows. This was the belief of the Republican Party establishment who though happy to see 'their guy win', now wanted to go back to their standard policies on tax, guns and religion (no, yes and hallelujah!!). The stunned Democrats saw Bannon as the Evil Genius that had made it all happen.
In January 2017 when Trump was sworn in, it was a combined Bannon-Miller manifesto that was read out that talked about the 'American Carnage' and how the rest of the world had ripped off Uncle Sam for the last 70 years. Those countries like the European ones, Japan and South Korea would now have let in American goods in greater numbers and pay extra for 'protection'. A suitable horse's head would be left in their beds if they didn't follow.
Bannon now felt as powerful as any old time Hollywood film mogul. Unlike them, his White House Hollywood could obliterate the world at the touch of a few buttons. This was how God would feel argued Bannon. He freely spoke about his ideas to a freelance journalist Michael Wolff. Cleverly disguising himself as a guest no one could remember who had invited, Wolff sat with Bannon and feverishly wrote down (and recorded) the various whims of fantasy spun by Bannon about his own abilities.
Matters came to a crisis pretty quickly. Trump was angry when Bannon was featured on a genuine cover of Time Magazine where he boasted about how much influence with Trump, suggesting the latter was largely an empty vessel that had been easy to fill up with various ideas. It made Trump look like a dummy. Worse happened when Wolff's book was confirmed to be coming out and it was learnt that Bannon had allowed him a virtual free run of the White House. That and Bannon's contempt for Trump's children, especially Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner was revealed. Bannon had seen Trump as an ideological ally. Now he was sacked. His former weasel-faced ally Stephen Miller quickly asserted his influence with the Trump camp. The 'American Carnage' would continue but now under Miller's control.
Bannon - looking even more battered - was shocked he was dropped. Hadn't he delivered White Nationalism as a support strut to what was being defined as Trumpism? Bannon was offered no other employment and left the White House in August 2017. He tried to say that his time with Trump from August 2016 had 'been only a year' and now that the president was in power, he (that is Bannon)'s job was done. Trump replied eventually that 'Steve is a good man but looks lousy on television'. And that was it.
Though Bannon was now out of immediate power, he remained an important 'wizard of the right'. Politicians on the right and far right asked for advice and influence about how to organise a successful takeover of a government in the interests of 'the people'. Bannon was happy to go along. He was soon visiting people like Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom when he was then just the foreign secretary. Others on Bannon's visiting trip included the leader of Hungary Viktor Orban and Marine Le Pen from the French National Front.
It was around about this time that Bannon first came up with an idea of a right wing/politico-religious seminary to teach the art of rabble rousing. A derelict monastery in Italy was founded to provide a cadre of latter day Knights Templar to carry the torch of a new Crusade against the supposed alliance of 'Islamic Fascists' and 'Radical Leftists'. These would be right wing culture warriors to fight the 'Armies of the Walking Woke. Unfortunately for Bannon, funds were in short supply. Those that were available came with strings. Most involved secrecy and few of those willing to invest wanted to have a Steve Bannon as their cheerleader. The idea was abandoned. Bannon was seriously out of pocket. He needed a new source of income. Bannon had also by now lost his main gig at Breitbart when that 'news' website dispensed with his services following the publication of Michael Wolff's full testimony of his time in the White House and how obvious all the juicy material was from Bannon.
Though Bannon was out of favour with Trump, he didn't as yet plan to print his own stories about the president. That would be his last shot from the cupboard. However he saw another way back by been a loud supporter of Trump. Bannon knew Trump was vainglorius idiot but saw he was still very useful for the nationalist cause. One way to prove his fealty (and get back in) was to support the Mexican Wall. Trump's barrier to Mexicans, Hispanics, gang members and caravans of looters and rapists was going to keep all of these people out.
The Mexican Wall was very popular with Trump's base supporters. It was going to be the best in the world. It would keep out a Mexican fly if it crossed the frontier. The only problem was no money was officially provided to fund it except for 'essential repairs'. Bannon said the barrier was needed and people were willing to fund it. This lead to Bannon to create a "GoFundMyMexicanWall" and was promoted heavily on Fox News and other scarier 'news' broadcasters.
As expected, Bannon's GoFundMe project was popular. Money poured in at first. Bannon promised that the dollars raised were be used 'right away'. But no wall appeared, other than the metaphorical one the project hit. Bannon claimed there were necessary expenses to deal with before construction. Still nothing seemed to be going on. A secret investigation was started.
First arrest and pardon
In August 2020, Bannon was arrested for this alleged scam. He had paid himself $1 Million from a MAGA fund set up to support Donald Trump. This looked like 'Sloppy Steve' was trying to cash in his Trump chips but after the November 2020 election Bannon ramped up the rhetoric with his 'War Room' broacasts. Appearing to be inside some nuclear bunker, Bannon is already blowing his bugle for the American Civil War 2.0.
When the Trumpist mob attacked the Capitol on January 6, 2021 Bannon wildly supported them with apocalyptic messages. In the space of a few days Bannon received his presidential pardon. He will soon need a new one. Not from Biden but from Trump. Can he hold out till 2025?
In November 2021, a special Congress Committee looking into the events of January 6th requested Bannon to 'tell them the truth'. Bannon sent them a photo of him dressed up as The Joker. Bannon thus had to face the music again, and in July 2022 he was sentenced to prison due to contempt of Congress (a place many Americans already think is contemptible, so no difference there).