The news that Donald Trump hired Breitbart News executive Stephen Bannon to serve as his new campaign chairman, even as his fellow Republicans were begging him to “normalize” his campaign, shocked people all over the political spectrum (at least outside Breitbart’s own fever swamp!). But the most savage condemnations came not from the Left but from the Right, as I noted at New York.
Here’s conservative activist and TV commentator Erick Erickson:
Bannon coming onto the Trump campaign is just a doubling down on crazy. It means the Trump campaign has not really learned any lessons, does not really recognize its message is not a winning message, and it’s just going to go out in a blaze of conspiracy theory and bitterness.
We are now moving beyond a dumpster fire. We’re more at Chernobyl. The only thing that’ll be coming out of the Trump campaign by November are three headed rats, which is kind of fitting.
Here’s Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard:
“The campaign overhaul means that Trump is choosing to end his campaign living in the alternate reality that Breitbart creates for him on a daily basis — where everything he does is the best, where everyone who questions him is an idiot or a traitor, where big rallies portend electoral victories, where House speaker Paul Ryan is the problem with modern conservatism, where polls that find him down are fixed, where elections he loses are rigged, where immigration and trade are the nation’s most pressing issues, and where, truly, Trump alone can fix it all.
“Breitbart is the only place that is more Trumpian than Trump.”
And more succinctly, here’s conservative talk-radio host Charlie Sykes:
“Trump’s campaign has now entered the hospice phase. He knows it’s dying and he wants to surround himself with his loved ones.”
Last but not least, there is the bitter jeremiad from Ben Shapiro, a former colleague of Bannon who left Breitbart because it was becoming a “Trump Pravda”:
“Many former employees of Breitbart News are afraid of Steve Bannon. He is a vindictive, nasty figure, infamous for verbally abusing supposed friends and threatening enemies. Bannon is a smarter version of Trump: he’s an aggressive self-promoter who name-drops to heighten his profile and woo bigger names, and then uses those bigger names as stepping stools to his next destination. Trump may be his final destination. Or it may not. He will attempt to ruin anyone who impedes his unending ambition, and he will use anyone bigger than he is — for example, Donald Trump — to get where he wants to go. Bannon knows that in the game of thrones, you win or die. And he certainly doesn’t intend to die. He’ll kill everyone else before he goes.”
Now, it is true that all of the above detractors of Trump and Bannon are prominent Never Trump activists who look forward to regaining power in the GOP after a Trump defeat. Nonetheless, it is a remarkable cascade of venom involving people who once served the same political gods. And, if they are right about the hiring’s significance, they won’t have to wait long to get the old band back together with the Trumpites in full disgrace.
If they’re wrong, of course, big plates of crow will be in order. But the country as a whole will have much bigger problems.