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Trumpbart Now

The news that Steve Bannon is riding to the rescue of the Trump campaign is just too perfect. It reminds me of a scene from The Simpsons set in the not too distant future where Marge and Homer are watching TV in bed. Marge turns to Homer and says, “You know, FOX turned into a hardcore sex channel so gradually, I didn’t even notice.”

A year or two ago one could still see water between Breitbartland and Trumptasia. Now the two phantasmagorical land masses have completely merged. (Note: I think it is a nigh-upon slanderous crime that they still use Andrew’s name for what Breitbart has become. He would hate it. They should have changed the name to Bannon News a long time ago.)

Anyway, from the Washington Post:

Bannon, in phone calls and meetings, has been urging Trump for months to not mount a fall campaign that makes Republican donors and officials comfortable, the aides said. Instead, Bannon has been telling Trump to run more fully as an outsider and an unabashed nationalist.

Trump has listened intently to Bannon and agreed with him, believing that voters will ultimately want a presidential candidate who represents disruption more than a candidate with polished appeal, the aides said.

Amazing! Trump is hiring the guy who has run a website that says Trump is perfect just as he is to come on board the campaign to say the same thing to his face. Paul Manafort may be a sinister guy, but he’s not dumb. He wanted Trump to moderate and pivot to the general-election electorate. Trump hated hearing this because, like a teenager who promised his pals that he knew how to drive, Trump didn’t want to be exposed as a liar for saying he could act presidential if he wanted to. Trump can’t pivot and, again, doesn’t want to try because he can’t. That’s why he’s been saying it would be “unfair” to his followers to suddenly act more presidential.

The problem, I suspect, is that Trump had literally no one around him to give him “permission” to stop pandering to voters he already won. That will be Bannon’s role. He will be Minister of Letting Trump Be Trump. He will be the guy shouting “more cowbell” where cowbell means “Trump.” And that’s what Trump wants to hear. Of course, Bannon will sell it in the language of some grand theory about nationalism supplanting conservatism. But all Trump will hear is “You be you.”

That said, the last 48 hours have been the best Trump has had in a long time. He’s stuck to a TelePrompTer for two speeches and managed to avoid stepping on his message too much. I didn’t watch his speech last night, but from what I’ve seen of it, it was a good deal more serious and disciplined than his usual rally shtick. Of course, reshuffling the campaign steps on the message they might have hoped to carry in to today from last night. But that’s okay, because it will be Bannon’s job to tell Trump he can do that whenever he wants. 

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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