FRESH AIR: In August 2016, three months before the presidential election, Republican nominee Donald Trump was behind in the polls. Instead of staying on message, the candidate was engaged in a politically damaging fight with the parents of an Army captain killed in Iraq. On Aug. 17, in an effort to change course, the Trump team appointed Steve Bannon, the former executive chairman of the conservative Breitbart News, to lead the campaign. Journalist Joshua Green of Bloomberg Businessweek says the switch would prove to be a turning point.
“[Trump] was headed toward a pretty serious loss, and Bannon brought his wealth of anti-Clinton knowledge into the campaign and managed to keep Trump focused on a target,” Green says.Green argues that Bannon’s experiences with Breitbart gave him a framework for mobilizing disaffected young white male voters who were attracted to Trump. Without such guidance, Green says, “I don’t think that Donald Trump would have been elected president.”
Despite Bannon’s success in the campaign, Green says that the adviser’s nationalist vision remains largely unfulfilled. “The kind of tragic, Shakespearean irony of the Donald Trump-Steve Bannon relationship is that Bannon finally did find the vessel for his ideas who could get elected president … [but who] now doesn’t have the focus, the wherewithal, the self-control to even do the basic things that a president needs to do.” Green’s new book, Devil’s Bargain, profiles Bannon and explains his role in Trump’s election. MORE