The Steve Bannon Debate

It’s always amusing to take a look at the advice Donald Trump gets from those who live inside the right’s epistemically enclosed bubble about a strategy going into debates. Take a look at what some “smart GOP source” told Chris Cillizza.

Yeah…so in the final debate of this election season, this “smart” person thinks the GOP nominee should go completely negative on his opponent. I guess it never dawned on these folks that regular voters might want to actually hear a few words about what the candidate actually wants to DO if he’s elected.

Cal Thomas turns it up a notch.

In a West Palm Beach, Florida, speech last Thursday, Donald Trump honed his attack against the media, the establishment and the Clintons: “The establishment and their media neighbors wield control over this nation. … Anyone who challenges their control is deemed a sexist, rapist, xenophobe, and morally deformed. They will attack you. They will slander you. They will seek to destroy your career and your family … (and) your reputation. They will lie (and) do whatever is necessary.

“The Clintons are criminals … and the establishment that protects them has engaged in a massive cover-up of widespread criminal activity at the State Department and the Clinton Foundation in order to keep the Clintons in power. Never in history have we seen such a cover-up as this.”

He’s right and this should be his line of attack in the third and final debate Wednesday night.

It is very plausible that this is exactly the kind of thing we’ll hear tonight. Perhaps it’s a bit too tidy, but that would mean that Trump’s top staff – Kellyanne Conway, David Bossie and Steve Bannon – will each have had a debate that caters to their views.

The first time Clinton and Trump met in a head-to-head match-up, it was Kellyanne Conway’s debate. If you remember, both the candidate and his surrogates thought he deserved credit for not bringing up Bill Clinton’s past. Based on what we’ve seen since then, that is what amounts to a “kinder, gentler” Donald Trump that Conway was trying to groom to reach white suburban women.

The second debate was David Bossie’s show. The guy who has spent most of his career fabricating dirt on the Clinton’s began that one with a pre-game show in which the former president’s accusers were trotted out in front of the cameras and seated in the front row of the debate hall. Fueled by his rage over the reaction to the Access Hollywood tape, Trump threatened to jail his opponent, said she had hate in her heart, and stalked her around the stage throughout the debate.

Based on what we’ve been seeing over the last couple of weeks, this third and final debate will likely be Steve Bannon’s show. As Ryan Lizza pointed out, the quote that Thomas used from Trump’s speech in West Palm Beach is right out of Bannon’s playbook.

Bannon embraced the growing populist movement in America, including the “alt-right,” a new term for white nationalists, who care little about traditional conservative economic ideas and instead stress the need to preserve America’s European heritage and keep out non-whites and non-Christians…

Bannon has a few unusual views that are important to understanding Trump’s speeches this week. He believes that the white working class is still the key to the election, because the Clintons have never been able to win without this demographic…

Bannon’s view of the media is similarly narrow. He sees the dominant conservative media players as the establishment, not as allies. He views Fox News as highly unreliable on the nationalist cause, and was not unhappy when Roger Ailes, Fox News’s former C.E.O., was forced to resign over multiple sexual-harassment allegations. He despises Rupert Murdoch—the chairman and C.E.O. of the News Corporation, and now the acting C.E.O. of Fox News, one of its subsidiaries—as a pro-open-borders globalist…

Trump and Bannon have given up on trying to defeat Clinton. They seem more interested in creating a platform for a new ethno-nationalist politics that may bedevil the Republican Party—and the country—for a long time to come.

So will it be Bannon’s night tonight? The other possibility could be Kevin Drum’s prediction.

Donald Trump will show up to the debate bald as an egg. Like Lex Luthor before him, he will then embark on a life of crime and revenge aimed at Hillary Clinton, who he blames for destroying his hair because she was jealous of his genius.

Well, why not? It makes as much sense as anything else he’s done.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.