As editor of Breitbart, Steve Bannon fueled the nationalist populist rage that propelled Donald Trump to the Republican nomination. As a campaign adviser, Bannon channeled that force into a message that would defeat Hillary Clinton. As White House chief strategist, Bannon put his populism into policy.
But Bannon has been eclipsed by the base he built. In a recent interview, he accused the president’s son of committing treason by meeting with the Russians during the campaign—a claim that the Trump supporters who Bannon brought out of the woodwork would never accept.
“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that,” Bannon reportedly told Michael Wolf in a new book, “you should have called the FBI immediately.”
Show that quote to most Trump supporters and they’d shout fake news. Hide Bannon’s name for a moment and those same Trump supporters might even call him a cuck. The different reactions are infinite, but the common denominator would inevitably be to dismiss the argument without evaluating the facts of the claim and then to immediately make an ad-hominem attack about the argument's author.
As John McCormack at The Weekly Standard concluded, “partisanship has made the average Republican more pro-Trump than Steve Bannon.” What’s more, he has no one else to blame but himself. He fed this crocodile, really nurtured it long before Trump even entered politics.
Now that apex populist predator has slipped his grasp, and it’s hungry.