Steve Bannon, the blustery, hard-right “nationalist” who’s said to be earmarking for defeat Republicans not toeing the most extreme line to advance the Trump agenda – whatever it is – is making it clear he’s making a list and checking it twice. But don’t get confused. In Bannon’s mind, Santa Claus would likely be viewed as a bleeding heart liberal.
Bannon’s motivation is to “primary” any Republican he deems as not 100 percent loyal to Trump. Not to the Republican Party and its traditions as defined by Bush-era strategist Karl Rove, for example, but only to President Trump. Thus, Bannon’s aides are said to be backing Charlotte preacher Rev. Mark Harris against incumbent GOP Rep. Robert Pittenger in the Republican primary of 2018. This, despite Pittenger’s bona fides as a right-wing Republican. But in Bannonworld, which is next door to Trumpworld, loyalty means 100 percent, down-the-line, lockstep agreement. It’s a tricky line for Republicans to walk, because Trump’s not a lifelong Republican and his political views are subject to change at a moment’s notice.
Bannon’s out on the stump now, making blustery, chest-pounding speeches, and he’s been empowered, despite losing his White House appointment (Gen. John Kelly apparently wanted him out as Kelly became chief of staff), by his friendship with Trump. The president continues to define Bannon as his friend.
Doubtless that’s true. But Trump’s friend may, by the 2018 elections, prove a costly alliance to have.