Part 8: Manafort is Under the Bus

Don’t start here! Start with Part 1.

Pat Caddell, a former Democratic operative who’s now a Republican and a Charleston resident, predicted the rise of Trump based on 75% of the country believing that the country was on the wrong track. Bannon went on to speak of the “corrupt and incompetent elite.” He called Trump an “agent of change.” Bannon mentioned his “buddy” Corey Lewandowski.

Pat Caddell, a former Democratic operative who’s now a Republican and a Charleston resident, predicted the rise of Trump based on 75% of the country believing that the country was on the wrong track. Bannon went on to speak of the “corrupt and incompetent elite.” He called Trump an “agent of change.” Bannon mentioned his “buddy” Corey Lewandowski.

When Bannon dissed Manafort, the crowd laughed. They’ve already disowned him, I suppose. In fact, the woman whose comments I keep reporting said something about “Comrade Manafort.” It’s fascinating. The Trump Russia story is fake news, but Manafort is Comrade Manafort. I think they’ve convinced themselves Manafort is the whole Russian story.

I think much of the Republican public really, truly believes that Trump is not involved with Russia. If you only consume Fox or Brietbart, there’s no way to know what’s actually happening. A lot of everyday Republicans will be shocked when Trump is implicated, and possibly impeached. Of course, the #GOP establishment knows about Trump’s connections to Russia, but they don’t talk about this with their voters.

But back to the dinner, and to Hillary Clinton. Here’s Bannon’s take: “We had a candidate with complete authenticity” where the Democrats had “a complete phony.” Referring to Clinton’s book, Bannon quipped, ” What happened…You got your ass kicked.” The crowd roared their approval. Bannon praised Barack Obama’s campaign as an outsider effort with a grassroots coalition. Here’s the formula for winning, according to Bannon:

* Authenticity
* Big, actionable ideas
* Grassroots efforts, particularly ringing doorbells.

Bannon admitted that “We have not learned to govern.” He said the 16 #GOP candidates were “quality folks,” and then mentioned Ben Carson, Ron Paul, Marco Rubio, and Carly Fiorina. Despite their quality, though, he believed none of the other candidates could have beaten the “Clinton machine.”

“It was the hand of divine providence” that elected Trump.

It was at this point that my friend, she said later, got ready to protest. I knew she had taken off her blouse and blazer, revealing her “blatant dissent” t-shirt. We were in the back of the room facing forward. It was relatively dark in the room. No one would see her shirt at that point.

As I said earlier, we went to document the event, and to listen to the insiders of the white supremacist, pro-fascist movement. How could normal people, people who love their families and country, how could they possibly vote for Trump? Before the election, we knew he sexually assaulted women and bragged about it. We knew he prevented black tenants from renting his apartments. We knew he mocked a disabled reporter. We knew he lied – constantly. How did people who consider themselves moral cast a vote for this man? It doesn’t make sense. What drives them?

I continued to watch Bannon and to take notes. “We were the island of the misfit toys.” Later, he called those in his movement, not nastily but including himself, “rubes, hobbits, deplorables.”

The mainstream media, he said, accused the campaign of colluding with Russia, but we couldn’t even collude with the RNC! Laughs. “Hey, Don Lemon, collude that.” Cheers. He made fun of being called “White Supremacist/White Nationalist Bannon.”

Bannon praised Nigel Farage and Brexit, saying that Farage had a “professionally run” tea party. Bannon took credit for Brexit, saying that if Breitbart London had not been created, “we wouldn’t have a Brexit.”

The working class is underestimated, argued Bannon, and he used the phrase, “take our country back.” He began talking about JD Vance’s book Hillbilly Elegy, saying that there’s a correlation between lost jobs and the opioid crisis. The heartland is gutted. Sixteen percent of those who voted Bernie Sanders in the primaries voted for Trump and would do so in 2020.

All of these references are to white people. Although people of color in this country have been suffering economically forever, only the white working class gain the alt-right’s sympathy. Bannon is too smart to say that directly, but his examples betray him.

Bannon praised Judge Moore, who was accused this week of sexual abuse of a 14 year-old when he was 32. Judge Moore, who, despite the right’s claim that the Constitution is the bedrock of conservatism, has been twice removed from the bench for failing to obey the law.

He urged the crowd to read Chinese president Xi’s speech, calling China the “great new power.”

I agree with Bannon about one topic. He said that the Watson Center at Brown University released a study showing that we’ve spent $5.6 trillion since 2001 on the War on Terror. We’ve had 52,000 casualties. He didn’t say it’s too much; he didn’t have to. And I agree. Before dinner, a Citadel video played. Various Republican leaders, past and present, praised the Citadel: Nikki Haley, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan. And each Citadel graduate since 2001 killed in service to our nation was memorialized. We have lost so many.

Bannon continued to criticize US trade deficits and used the phrase “supplicants to NATO.” And then I wrote down a bunch of buzz words without much context. “Donor class.” “Consultants.” “More Virginias.” He said that “tonight or tomorrow” the mainstream media would release a story, and I have no recollection about what, but he did say what it was. I wish I knew shorthand.

He was back to election night, 2016. He said that the people think their country is “gone forever” if Hillary Clinton is elected. Like the military, the election comes down to 1 or 2 decisions, and “Donald J. Trump makes smart decisions.” The crowd applauded this line heartily.

Am I in an alternate universe? Well, yes, I think I was on Friday night. How could anyone believe Trump makes good decisions? He’s tweeting at the unstable leader of North Korea who has nuclear weapons. He brags about sexual assault. He tells gold star families he’ll send a check and then doesn’t. He uses his own charity for personal expenses. He’s been bankrupt FOUR TIMES and married three. Donald J. Trump does NOT make good decisions.

I suppose, though, that the right doesn’t believe any of those things. Bannon, in fact, said that Trump’s sexual assault talk was “locker room talk, versus Bill Clinton’s actions.” Nevermind that multiple women came forward to say that Trump did, in fact, reach out and grab their genitals.

Bannon, the great Patriot, also pointed at the media in the back of the room several times, making negative comments. But if you’re really a patriot…if you’re really a good American, you hold the Constitution in high regard. A free press is a bedrock of democracy, and it’s why our founding fathers protected the free press in the 1st amendment to the Constitution. Bannon emulated Trump in demeaning the media.

Next in my handwritten notes, I wrote, “Protester yells & crowd BOOS.” I turned to my left to joyfully say to my friend, “Look – a protester!” She wasn’t there.


Follow Dr. Cleaveland on Twitter: @CHSPolitico

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