The Corner

Trump Condemns the Alt-Right, but Its Ally Is Still Down the Hall

Days after an alt-right convention celebrated Trump’s election with chants of “Heil victory,” Trump has unequivocally condemned the movement, declaring in an interview with the New York Times, “I don’t want to energize the group, and I disavow the group.” This is welcome news, but frankly it’s a bit late. For more than a year alt-right activists engineered a campaign of rage and hate against Trump critics (including me), targeting our families and even children with threats and vile images that went far, far beyond “normal” Twitter harassment and veered into dark and disturbing territory.

None of this was secret. It was widely reported and debated across all forms of media, and during that time, leading Trump allies embraced these vicious racists. His chief strategist, Steve Bannon, even went so far as to call the publication he ran, Breitbart.com, the “platform of the alt-right.” 

Regarding Bannon, Trump said this:

I have no idea if Bannon is truly racist. None of us know his heart. But, as my friend Ben Shapiro said, he’s “one of the most vicious people in politics.” He likes to “destroy people.” In other words, he may not be alt-right, but he will use the alt-right — at least until they’re no longer politically convenient. 

There’s more than a whiff of Clintonism around the Trump team. Indeed, we’ve seen this movie before. Time and again, Bill Clinton used his network of friends and media allies to attack his political enemies and destroy their public reputations. Then, once his political victories were won, the same network of cronies hung around, offering up their political advice and alleged policy expertise. 

Steve Bannon is the Sidney Blumenthal of the Trump White House. And if Trump wants to see what such men do to a presidency or a family, he should look no further than Blumenthal’s lingering, malignant effect on Clinton Incorporated. Lie down with your attack dog, and you’ll get a very nasty case of fleas. 

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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