I sometimes look at the long ribbons of texts I’ve gotten from Steve Bannon and wonder whether they couldn’t tell the whole story all on their own.
There are certainly enough of them. He says he has five phones, two encrypted, and he’s forever pecking away, issuing pronunciamentos with incontinent abandon—after midnight; during commercial breaks for his show, War Room; sometimes while the broadcast is still live.
You can discern much of Bannon’s mad character and contradictions in these exchanges. The chaos and the focus, the pugnacity and the enthusiasm, the transparency and the industrial-grade bullshit. Also, the mania: logomania, arithmomania, monomania (he’d likely cop to all of these, especially that last one—he’s the first to say that one of the features of his show is “wash rinse repeat”). Garden-variety hypermania (with a generous assist from espressos). And last of all, perhaps above all else, straight-up megalomania, which even those who profess affection for the man can see, though it appears to be a problem only for those who believe, as I do, that he’s attempting to insert a lit bomb into the mouth of American democracy.
March 28, 9:49 a.m.
I’m taking out Murkowski today and forcing her to vote NO on judge Jackson
He’s talking about the Senate confirmation vote on Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination, and uncertainty about whether Lisa Murkowski, the senior Republican senator from Alaska, will vote yes. I tell him I’ll be interested to see if Murkowski responds.
After today she’s a NO
Murkowski did not vote no. I sent him a New York Times story on April 4 to tweak him. Wasn’t your show supposed to flip her? I asked.
Goalposts. They’re always movable.
This is a huge issue that I’m about to make toxic
And so it went that day: The work before us is to weaponize this vote. Twice he used this word, weaponize, in talking about his plan to flip Senate seats in Nevada and Arizona—adding, I can clearly see how to win.
I’m impressed by my photo!!
Innnnnnnnnnnnteresting, I wrote. Why?
Can u see the photo?
You don’t like it?
I’ve never seen it before now
I want to know why you like it
I don’t look so (Covid 19) UNKEMPT
Does this mean you have actual feelings?
Of course it doesn’t!
But it still pleases you to look nice.
One day he called my colleague Anne Applebaum a fucking KLOWN. (He had previously referred to her work as “brilliant,” but something she’d just said about Hunter Biden’s laptop didn’t agree with him.) Later, while reflecting on this comment, I asked him: Who’s been his most worthy intellectual sparring partner so far?
You’ve watched the debates
I destroy folks except I always pull back to not be obnoxious
Did he care to name names?
Henry Levi in Athens.
Blood on the floor.
Bernard-Henri Lévy, he meant, the famous French intellectual.
Biggest disappointment of my life
Made him eat this
He sent me a picture of Lévy’s book The Empire and the Five Kings.
I watched that debate. This was not at all my impression. But winning is certainly an all-consuming preoccupation for Bannon, just as it is for his former boss. Winning debates. Winning elections—in France, in Hungary, in South Texas, where Hispanic voters are migrating into the R column with impressive speed. One night, as I was reading in bed, I heard the ping of my phone: Bannon had sent me a story from a Rio Grande Valley website, reporting that Republican turnout at early-voting polls was up up up.
And good night
It was 11:37 p.m. Never too late to own the libs.
See FULL STORY at The Atlantic.