The Fall of Indicted Accused Embezzler Steve Bannon

The Fall of Indicted Accused Embezzler Steve Bannon. By David Cole.

His guilt or innocence aside, a lot of people on the right who’ve known or worked with him are pleased to see him go down, because the man’s a shifty, disagreeable prick who makes enemies wherever he goes.

Former Breitbart editor Larry O’Connor struggled to maintain objectivity while discussing the case against Bannon on his radio show. To be up-front about my own bias, I absolutely despise Bannon. Back in May, when I dared to disagree with him about the supposed “Frankenstein lab” origins of COVID, he responded by slandering me as a “Holocaust denier” on his podcast, while calling for me to be fired from Takimag.

When facts failed him, Bannon resorted to quoting the ADL/SPLC handbook while trying to get me canceled. It’s exactly that sort of vile behavior that has many on the right indulging in some serious schadenfreude at the man’s current predicament.

Anti-Bannon bias is held by the mainstream media as well, but from a leftist perspective. Rags like The New York Times and The Washington Post have used the indictment as an opportunity to slam rightists in general, claiming that Bannon’s alleged embezzlement from the crowdfunded We Build the Wall project proves that righties are a bunch of gullible rubes repeatedly taken to the cleaners by snake-oil hucksters.

I hate to say it, but there’s a grain of truth to that.

To be clear, leftists are just as gullible. … But I do think the right has a “special” problem with grifters. …

Even on smaller conservative projects, I’ve seen fraud and embezzlement. During my years with FOA [Friends of Abe, the “secret” organization of Hollywood conservatives], I was asked time and again to mediate disputes involving trivial viral videos and online campaigns where one partner or producer was accused by the others of absconding with funds.

I’m not saying these problems are unique to the right (they’re not). But I do think they’re more pervasive. And I can name a few reasons why. To begin with, your typical leftist activist makes a terrible “mark.” How much money can you bleed from ghetto dogs, welfare trannies, mom’s basement dwellers, and lesbian feminist poetry majors soaked in student debt? Conservatives are more likely to have a job and a savings account, so con artists and opportunists drift right; it’s just practical.

Then there’s the dynamic typified by the Republican Party in my own city. L.A. GOPs know they won’t win. They know they can’t win. Yes, there are Republicans in L.A. Quite a few. Not enough to win a congressional race, but enough to take for a few bucks. So every election cycle, the party goes through the same routine — raising money for races that can’t be won. Where does that money go? Pretty much into the pockets of the people doing the raising. Don’t get me wrong; these L.A. GOPs would like to win. But the perceived futility of their task has made them cynical and self-serving.

That “L.A. nihilism” can creep in anywhere and anytime rightists feel let down or abandoned by their leaders…which, let’s face it, is always. The excited optimism of 2016 has given way to a 2020 election that’s more about not letting the Democrats win than it is about all the wondrous things Trump and the GOP will do with the reins of power. Trump’s lost interest in his 2016 platform (if he ever had it in the first place). The GOP Senate, fighting for its existence, can barely muster a call to arms beyond “You should see the other guys.” Some of the hardest-core GOP rightists have been slaughtered in congressional primaries.

In this environment, you put $25,000,000 in front of even the most sincere activist, give him a mandate to privately fund a tiny portion of a wall that neither the president nor the party gives a damn about, and what do you think’s gonna happen?

“I’ll just swipe a cool mil off the top. Who’ll notice that the wall just got a few yards shorter?”

I’m sure Steve Bannon started out as a sincere advocate for the Trump agenda. He may even have joined the border-wall crowdfunding project with the best of intentions. But Trump’s abandonment of his 2016 agenda likely put the man in an L.A. state of mind.

Should the case against Bannon end up being as strong as the indictment makes it appear, we’ll have witnessed a rightist scam that touched all the bases: disgruntled marks who, feeling abandoned by the establishment (and their own supposedly antiestablishment president), went all-in for a quick-fix gimmick promoted by people whose hearts may have been in the right place at one time but who, with faith and optimism failing them, decided that the money would be better spent on a new yacht than a fool’s errand.

Don’t hear much about “Build a Wall” anymore from the USA. Even to keep out reinfection by covid.