Trump and the Bannonization of the Presidency

“This is beyond anybody’s expectations.  There’s been no crowd like this…”  So began the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.  Obsessed with crowd size (along with hand size) almost from the start, today we see the same trends.  Of course, many of that great crowd were Trump Tower employees or paid to appear people.  He emerged as a media phenomena already being a media character.

On the campaign trail, he was a magnet for the media.  Cameras, reporters, and microphones followed him everywhere.  The cable news media Left and Right regularly interrupted their regularly scheduled programming for a Trump speech or campaign appearance.  And he never failed to deliver with off-the-cuff remarks.  The coverage begat more coverage in a never-ending barrage of all things Trump.

After his Election night victory, the story has been wall-to-wall Trump.  He has given us three weeks of coverage the likes of which do not exist in presidential history.  Never before in the history of “journalism” or the media has one single person been the focus of fixation.  The only time Trump was absent from the headlines was when some terrorist act occurred and even then the story shifted to a well-placed Tweet or statement.

Now as president, his every word, Tweet, statement, speech, comment, action, or passing thought are the center of everything.  The media has managed to take his personal narcissism and elevate it to a societal phenomena.  Whether something positive or negative, never before has anyone been able to take actual news to such heights, but more importantly no one has been able to take moments of non-news and make it news.  He regularly takes up 5-6 articles (not counting the op-ed pages) of major newspapers.

Everyday and everywhere we see nothing but Trump news.  The focus in three weeks has been the controversy over a travel ban, the size of inaugural crowds, the size of Sean Spicer’s suit, the signing of an Executive Order, the cancellation of a visit by a foreign leader, the visit by a foreign leader, telephone conversations with foreign leaders, who sits on the National Security Council, who doesn’t sit on the National Security Council, manufactured controversy over a Supreme Court nomination, confirmation hearing boycotts that achieve nothing, threats against Iran, threats against China, and threats against Mexico.  Even his daughter’s jewelry line is covered in massive detail.

The effects are somewhat amusing if they were not so dangerous at times.  But, more on the effects in a bit…  He has stirred protests and demonstrations (some manufactured by Soros money) here and abroad, he’s given nationalism a boost in countries like Iraq, Mexico and China, he managed to unite the Mexican population behind an unpopular Mexican president, and has allegedly insulted the leader of Australia of all places.  That is like picking a fight with New Zealand over kiwi imports.

And through it all, one just couldn’t help oneself.  Everyone is guilty of adding to the coverage pile-on.  And this is only the first three weeks of his presidency.  That moron, Chuck Schumer, in response to the firing of an Obama-appointed hack at the Justice Department, walked onto the floor of the Senate and declared it a “Monday night massacre” stirring images of Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre” during the Watergate controversy.  One firing does not a massacre make.  Only from the mouth of a liberal can the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice be characterized as a “constitutional crisis.”

Despite the sound and the fury and all the protests, demonstrations, boycotts, punches in the face, and everything else, consider this simple fact: NOTHING HAS ACTUALLY HAPPENED YET.  And perhaps this is all by design.  Perhaps the saturation of negative coverage simply immunizes the population when words turn into actual actions.

Personally, this writer believes a lot of this has to do with manufactured deflection from other issues.  It also has the fingerprints of Steve Bannon.  For example, Trump’s son-in-law will have an office in the White House while he searches for some position for his daughter, Ivanka.  If this were an Arab country, we would avert our eyes because it is the norm.

Another example is this statement by Rex Tillerson:

We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.

Compare this with a statement by Steve Bannon to the Independent:

We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years, aren’t we?  There’s no doubt about that.

Tillerson’s comment is a nicely worded ultimatum, but an ultimatum- much like red lines- can have serious consequences.  If enforced, it has the potential for war.  If not, you look weak.  Just ask Obama about red lines and ultimatums in Syria.

His animosity towards Mexico may very well be motivated by a revenge factor given his failed business adventures south of the border.  The Trump Ocean Resort in Baja along with his proposed resort in Cozumel were thwarted by the Mexican government long before he claimed Mexico sent criminals to the United States.  Possible personal vendettas do not make for good foreign policy.

Trump is combative, erratic and an apparent bully.  He responds to resistance and criticism by either doubling down, or deflecting attention with something else.  This was gratifying when he was taking on the mainstream media, Washington pundits, Wall Street bankers and Acela corridor elites.  His campaign was great entertainment.  Because so many were tired of the lectures from the elite, Trump was elected president.   But the entertainment should have stopped on November 9th, 2016.

Bannon has found the perfect know-nothing in Trump after he failed to recruit Palin in 2012.  After Bannon assumed control of Breitbart News after the death of Andy Breitbart in 2012, what was once a fairly well-read serious conservative news outlet became, in terms of headlines, the National Enquirer of conservative news.  There were certainly many newsworthy stories on Breitbart that the mainstream media ignored, but there were also bombastic headlines that drew more readers in despite the dubious nature of their truthfulness.

Thus, Trump’s presidency and his accompanying rhetoric, comments, Tweets and actions are the Bannonization of the presidency and American politics much as he (Bannon) Bannonized Breitbart News.

If the previous three weeks are any indication, we are in for a long four years with Trump as president.  One can only hope that it remains entertaining and does not become dangerously entertaining.