Steve Bannon is Relevant Again, Thanks to the Left

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In a recent commentary, I opined that former White House advisor Steve Bannon was barely surviving on the periphery of political relevancy.  While he talks in grandiose terms as the leader of some vast movement to disrupt the established order, he has really become a minor play with a limited audience.  His relationship with President Trump still appears to be at an arm’s distance.

His last notable appearance was in meetings with a few Trump allies – who, themselves, seem to be increasingly discredited.  I can think of no major Republican leader or wannabe who will embrace Bannon as a trusted key advisor.  Should a Republican win the White House in 2024, it is very unlikely that Bannon will have a place in the administration.  And that includes a Trump administration.

However, … Bannon may have been spared a descent into political obscurity as a tough talking podcaster with a limited audience by his alleged enemies – those on the left.

Democrats and their media allies have been on a constant campaign to recast the Republican Party as an un-American institution – and toss as much of the leadership as possible into the hoosegow. They were successful to get Bannon indicted for Contempt of Congress for ignoring subpoenas to produce documents and appear in person.

They have now succeeded in getting Bannon convicted – facing jail time.  As an unintended consequence, they have brought Bannon into the fore of public attention.  And even worse, they have made him a political martyr.

They have given him a voice to proclaim himself to be a man wrongfully attacked for his political views.  And his claims have certain credibility – even if not true.

The fact that the Justice Department indicted Bannon on criminal charges raises the “why him?” question.  Indicting a person for ignoring a congressional subpoena is very rare.  The previous example was G. Gordan Liddy indicted in conjunction with the Watergate case.  Before that, there was a case back in the 1930s.  More contemporaneously, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and others have rejected similar subpoenas.  In their cases, the Justice Department declined to charge.  Attorney General Merrick Garland made the call in all three cases.

Perhaps the simplest answer is the real one.  Bannon was the easiest of the three to convict since his claim of Executive Privilege was the weakest.  

What is more important than the reasons for the Bannon indictment is the result.  With an appeal in the works – even to the Supreme Court – Garland has assured that Bannon will have a slot on the national news for months or years to come.

And for what?  A conviction on what is called a “process crime” – and a minor one, at that?  Bannon was not indicted on a Class A felony.  He was not indicted for sedition or bank robbery. He was guilty of a technical crime that is rarely prosecuted.

He is likely to spend some time in jail.  But serving time in his case is about as damaging as the time Nelson Mandela spent in jail in apartheid South Africa – or the turnstile incarcerations of folks like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson – and more recently – Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, et al.

Those arrests and incarcerations are listed on resumes like badges of honor.  And that is exactly how millions of Americans will see Bannon’s incarceration.  It is a small price to pay for all the benefits he will receive.

I do not believe that Bannon’s descent to political obscurity has been completely dodged, but Garland’s decision to pursue the case against Bannon has given the revolutionary (non-violent type) a renewed prominence on the political stage.  Bannon’s conviction produces little benefit for the nation.  It does not benefit the Department of Justice in its crime-fighting capacity. It only benefits … Bannon.

So, there ‘tis.

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