We reported yesterday that Donald Trump had made his first two picks for the people who are going to be running the show in his White House. One of them – Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus – is a pretty stock-standard establishment pick for chief of staff, a man who is generally respected across the entire Republican Party and will likely calm down any inter-party rebellions against the new head honcho.
The other one, though, is Steve Bannon, Trump’s advisor and the driving force behind insanely popular conservative site Breitbart News. Bannon was reportedly behind Breitbart’s pivot from being a rebellious, anti-establishment right-wing platform to one that more openly embraces the perspectives of the alt-right: including elements of white nationalism and anti-Semitism.
Paul Ryan said he had “no concerns” about Stephen Bannon potentially becoming Chief of Staff. Bannon ran a website with these headlines. pic.twitter.com/LpNug7MAof
— Joon Lee (@iamjoonlee) November 13, 2016
So it’s not just that he looks like your drunk, somewhat dishevelled uncle who says you “look like some kinda PUSSY” after slamming down half a bottle of Malibu, though he does look like that:
His appointment was celebrated by some more conservative elements of the Republican machine, like perennial presidential candidate Rick Santorum:
— Rick Santorum (@RickSantorum) November 14, 2016
But not everyone is quite as pleased. Namely, Jewish groups are a little concerned by both some of the colour of Breitbart’s reporting, and allegations from Bannon’s ex-wife that he didn’t want the couple’s daughter’s going “going to school with Jews”.
Sources: @AIPAC is privately apoplectic about Steve Bannon appointment
— Jonathan Franks (@jonfranks) November 14, 2016
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) November 14, 2016
Evan McMullin, the former CIA operator and 2016 presidential candidate you hadn’t heard of, also called out Bannon’s appointment:
— Evan McMullin (@Evan_McMullin) November 14, 2016
Even many harder right Republicans are quite concerned here.
Trump has the opportunity to do a lot of good. But Bannon is a horrible racist with an allergy to truth. The more Bannon we get, the worse.
— Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) November 14, 2016
The racist, fascist extreme right is represented footsteps from the Oval Office. Be very vigilant America.
— John Weaver (@JWGOP) November 13, 2016
There’s also the fact that the chairman of the American Nazi Party is pretty chuffed with Bannon’s appointment, and sees it as evidence that Trump might be “the real deal”.
— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) November 14, 2016
The big concern, which has been outlined in a number of profiles over the past year or so, is that Bannon works for his own longterm goals, and Trump is really just a cudgel. Bannon’s goal isn’t entirely clear, but we know its general flavour: destroy the political establishment, and replace it with something that is explicitly based on his own populist right-wing tendencies.
Bannon’s appointment should concern anyone who hoped that Trump’s presidency would be calmer and more moderate than his campaign. It will actually get a whole lot worse.
Photo: Getty Images.