Thanks to his charisma, he can get lots of attention.
An example of that was how his presence and commentary revived Roy Moore's campaign. (Today, we'll find out if that had any real effect.)
Not Being Able to Break the Conservative Code
But, Bannon remains an enigma. At least to a New York liberal such as myself. I never could decode conservatives.
Those frustrating unsolved puzzles include Bob Dilenschneider who had been the personal public relations representative for former Fox News founder Roger Ailes. Now and then I would do assignments for Dilenschneider's public affairs firm.
In his July 2017 book "Devil's Bargain," journalist Joshua Green provides some facts and insight which may or may not help us connect the dots on what Bannon is all about. The book ranks around 15,000 on Amazon, received a five-star rating from 58% of readers, and has generated almost 450 reviews. Here it can ordered from Amazon.
The antics of Campaign 2016 taught us not to trust what we read or hear. So, I'm wary of buying into how Green positions and packages the Bannon saga.
Past as Prologue
Bannon's past may be the platform for how he manages to get things done among conservatives.
His background is blue-collar, Irish Catholic, hard-working and hard-core Kennedy Democratic ethos. That likely gave him a deep understanding of:
- Populism. The working class has an antipathy toward supposed elites. His father started out as an AT&T linesman and only much later made it into middle management.
- Theatrics. The Roman Catholic Church's signature is its drama-filled rituals. Those range from the mass in which a wafer is transformed into the body of Christ to the sacrament of penance in which one's sins disappear.
- Value of an extreme work ethic. That was the family DNA.
- Power of political ideology as bonding force. The love of Kennedy was the group identity.
Zelig (for a while)
As he found outlets for his ambition he seemed to acquire the ability to take on whatever persona would be useful. A type of Zelig, he became a one-of-the-boys Navy officer, Harvard Business School striver, buttoned-down investment banker, and risk-taker Hollywood type.
Green contends that once Bannon didn't need a day job any more he also dropped the need for a persona. He went rogue in everything from how he dressed to how he gave up shaving daily.
But his unique genius has always been game theory.
Immediately he could size up the rules of any game, figure out how to outfox the competition, and, in the process, change that game. For example, he got it that Donald Trump's real game was how to create winning political plays.
According to Green, Trump had been interested in political office for a number of years. Among what he had considered was running for governor but decided against it.
Essentially, Bannon could be one of those personalities who get big, are downsized a bit, and always return to the former large size or even bigger.
The ambitious, and not only in politics and media, can learn much from Bannon's approaches. Those have been classified as Machiavellian. So?
Wise mentors warn newbies in a certain career path such as law or medicine that it's all a game. Either the entry-level professionals will wrap their head around that and focus on strategy and tactics or they will be knocked out of the box.
Reflection: Will Dr. Shaun Murphy on "The Good Doctor" embrace the game that medicine is?
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