Steve Bannon is planning his political comeback. But don’t tell him that; in Bannon’s eyes, he never really stopped being a combatant in the war against the elitist cabal.
A few years ago, Bannon was a figure on the fringe of the American political spectrum. He may have commanded a loyal group of readers from his chair at Breitbart, but Steve Bannon only became a household name in America when then-candidate Donald Trump hired him in August 2016 to turn around a flailing and chaotic campaign. Trump was mocked as a laughing stock when Bannon came onboard. Polls showed the loudmouth billionaire getting trounced by the Clinton juggernaut; Quinnipiac had Trump trailing by 10 points before Bannon’s even had a chance to get acclimated as the campaign’s new chairman.
So when Trump pulled off the biggest upset in American political history – puncturing the confidence of the pundits, pollsters, and prognosticators in the process – Steve Bannon clearly deserved a share of the credit. His political stock rose sky-high. He was no longer the unkempt slob talking about globalist conspiracies, but a guy who now had direct access to the president and the power to draft executive orders. Bannon became such a national sensation and curiosity that TIME magazine slapped his face on its February 2, 2017 cover with a headline that surely got under Trump’s skin: ‘Is Steve Bannon the Second Most Powerful Man in the World?’
But just as quickly as Bannon’s star rose, it crashed down to earth in less than seven months. Chief of Staff John Kelly pushed him out, and he left such a trail of burnt bridges at the White House that it was ecstatic about leaving the government monstrosity and returning to Breitbart. Little did the Trump svengali know that four months later, his world would be turned upside down after likening Trump Jr. to an ‘unpatriotic’ and ‘treasonous’ dolt for in Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury. Last January was Bannon’s rock bottom, when he saw his biggest financial backer cut ties and his old boss referring to him as a lunatic who ‘lost his mind.’
‘The Great Manipulator,’ however, doesn’t quit easily. Bannon is now back on the warpath on two continents. In Europe, he’s creating a think tank and clearinghouse for anti-EU populists who are running for the EU parliamentary elections. The goal: elect enough nationalists to render the body ineffective. Back in the U.S., Bannon is launching a pro-Trump group dedicated to electing Trump-friendly Republicans in the midterms and instigating a civil war within the Democratic party. And if there’s anything Bannon likes, it’s waging political warfare against the coastal elite.
Who knows: if Republicans keep the House and Bannon gets back on Trump’s good side, there may be another TIME cover on the horizon. We may not have seen the last of the populist provocateur.