Trump shuffled his campaign office - AGAIN - this time demoting the likes of Manafort - whose growing scandalous ties to corrupt Ukrainians was proving to be a legitimate foreign policy/national security matter - and bringing in this Steve Bannon to take charge. Via the Atlantic:
Donald Trump has hired a senior executive from Breitbart News and promoted a campaign adviser to a top position in an effort to jump-start his presidential campaign, which has been foundering in recent days.
Under the changes announced Wednesday, Stephen Bannon, Breitbart’s executive chairman, will become chief executive of the GOP presidential nominee’s campaign, and Kellyanne Conway, the Republican strategist and pollster, who currently is a senior adviser on the campaign, will become the campaign manager. Paul Manafort, who has come under scrutiny for his reported ties to Ukraine’s former Moscow-backed leader, will retain his title as campaign chairman, though it’s unclear whether he will continue to wield the same kind of influence in the new regime.
I actually wasn't aware of who Bannon was... but then the Internet - like the Atlantic article above - kindly let me know that he's essentially the guy who took over Breitbart's slime machine and kept it going as a conspiracy-hawking, librul-bashing, RINO-hunting monstrosity.
Bloomberg had this back in 2015 (article by Joshua Green):
As befits someone with his peripatetic background, Bannon is a kind of Jekyll-and-Hyde figure in the complicated ecosystem of the right—he's two things at once. And he’s devised a method to influence politics that marries the old-style attack journalism of Breitbart.com, which helped drive out Boehner, with a more sophisticated approach, conducted through the nonprofit Government Accountability Institute, that builds rigorous, fact-based indictments against major politicians, then partners with mainstream media outlets conservatives typically despise to disseminate those findings to the broadest audience.
He's basically an attack dog for the Far Right: shredding political opponents without a care for consequences or facts (despite Green's claims, this is a guy in charge of one of the most fact-free media outlets out there), and pushing a purity purge among the Republican ranks to enforce message discipline.
Putting a guy like Bannon in charge of Trump's campaign is a clear signal that Trump wants to increase the attacks not only on Hillary and Democrats but also on fellow Republicans who are failing to support the Trump brand.
It's still a risky move on three points:
- Bannon's never run a political campaign before, if I've read the articles about him right. Trump's campaign is still a disorganized mess that barely had no ground game and no ad spending (something that eagle-eyed observers are watching)
- Going even more negative than the previous year, at this stage of the general election, can just as easily backfire on Trump. Being negative during the primaries work because that's what your voting base feeds off of. Being super-negative with the mudslinging during the general election will only depress voter turnout among the moderate/independent voters who hate that negativity... and Trump - whose own party support is the lowest any Republican candidate ever had - needs the moderate votes more than Hillary does.
- It still doesn't resolve the internal scandals involving Manafort - whose still on the campaign - and other lackeys with serious (almost criminal) baggage.
This is less Schadenfreude than Oh Crap. Not that Bannon is suddenly going to turn Trump into a winning campaigner, but that Bannon is going to nuke everything from orbit... just to make sure the Narrative stays pure.