Downgrading Hurricane Steve


He started out as a radar image on the outer reaches of the American psyche, with little likelihood of harming anyone.

Winds shifted. He became a threat to the mainland. His image appeared on our TV screens. The breathless watch ensued.

Now the threat has passed. No longer a storm: Steve Bannon is not even a tropical depression.

Donald Trump doesn’t think climate change exists, but for some reason he believes Steve Bannon is for real.

Yes. Trump shuns scientists while ascribing to comic-book advisors.

What is it about these guys? Bannon, Stephen Miller, Mick Mulvaney, Steve Mnuchin. They act like “Dick Tracy” villains, with Trump as Big Boy Caprice.

Or, they’re Imperial Army generals of the Galactic Empire. Their chests are bruised from saluting the orange emperor.

EPA administrator Scott (“The Phantom Menace”) Pruitt has become the Darth Maul of anything that might help the planet.

Jeff Sessions is pale, ashen (Attorney) General Tyranus, accustomed to the clench of the Emperor’s thought waves around his throat.

Bannon is from another show, at least in his mind. He’s a character on “Power Rangers” – no, not the White Ranger — or the red, green, black, yellow or blue one. He’s Zordon, the torso-less floating head that gives the Power Rangers their chalk talks.

Bannon’s head used to float about in the Oval Office. Now, having been removed from his post as Donald Trump’s special advisor, he floats back out of the outer rim of shamelessness to relish in the squeak of his captain’s chair at Breitbart.

One can say many things about what’s really bad during the Time of Trump. But the fact that millions had to endure Bannon’s floating face in a segment of high-rated “60 Minutes” may say it all.

He told Charlie Rose that anyone who criticized Trump on the “Billy Bush Weekend” – when we all got to hear Trump jabber about assaulting women courtesy of “Access Hollywood” – was dead to the campaign. That’s you, Chris Christie.

He talked of going all alt-right to take out various Republican lawmakers in primary challenges, a strategy that would cost the GOP a whole bunch of campaign dollars. Bravo, say Democrats.

Regardless, reports Time magazine, “Now that Bannon has broken cover, he doesn’t seem so menacing.” And that applies to the movement he’s come to embody, albeit in body-less form.

Let’s put him aside, as one would a clown when more interesting acts present themselves.

In a recent somber essay in Time after the horrible events in Charlottesville, historian and author Jon Meacham ruminated on the awful similarities between Trumpism (and Bannonism) and the populist strains that made George Wallace a political force.

“Wallace brought something intriguing to the modern politics of hate in America: a visceral connection to the crowds, an appeal that confounded elites.”

So, too, with Trump, writes Meacham, whose words in the paragraph, framed a black-and-white photo of former Klan leader David Duke, another pledged to salute the man.

Meacham, mere days after Charlottesville, didn’t sound optimistic about what was to come.

The country, he writes, looks to its president “for a steadying hand in stormy times of unease and vitriol. At the moment we look in vain.”

Ah, but the very next weekend a planned white nationalist rally in Seattle was absolutely swamped by forces of sanity, unity and kindness. The white supremacists were made so insignificant as to be invisible. I wonder what Steve Bannon thought of his movement that day.

It was the American people who, resoundingly, provided the “steadying hand” that the president didn’t.

And what did Bannon think from his swivel chair?

John Young is a longtime Texas newspaperman who now lives in Fort Collins, Colo. Email See

From The Progressive Populist, October 15, 2017

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