History is not standing still. It did not stop with the Clinton era, which is now finally over. At least history did not stop for America. America is moving along and at a rapid pace. For the Clintonistas and their millennial acolytes, however, I guess America did stop. In fact, it froze, locked into an eternal 1968, forever reliving all the demonstrations, the sit-ins, and the sobbing, heaving hubbub of yesteryear. Yet America goes on riding the currents of history, and those currents are moving rapidly.
As for the Clintons themselves, they have been stopped dead in their tracks. There was Hillary’s meltdown on the evening of Nov. 8. She reverted to the form that all of us who have covered her for years have been reporting. She screamed, shouted some very unladylike epithets, threw some objects at her servitors’ heads, and availed herself to more adult beverages than was prudent. All the old scandals, improprieties, and breaches of the law had finally caught up with her. She was captured by her past and is not likely to escape that past. Now she is scrambling to get a presidential pardon before Congress and various prosecutors move in. If President Barack Obama does not grant her a pardon, history will truly stand still for the Clintons and their sidekicks for years.
Yet, as I say, for the rest of us, history proceeds at a swift clip. One of history’s new players is Stephen K. Bannon. He has been a naval officer, a principal at Goldman Sachs, a media entrepreneur, and the brains behind Breitbart News. Now he is senior counselor to President-elect Donald Trump. He also represents one of history’s latest editions, a new outreach for conservatism. Bannon was a Reagan Democrat; now he is a Trump Republican. He wants conservatism to reach out to, as he says, the “patriots,” the “people who love this country. They just want their country taken care of.” He says, “I’m not a white nationalist; I’m a nationalist. I’m an economic nationalist.” And for talk like that, the commentators who are locked away in 1968 call him a racist, an anti-Semite, and a misogynist.
All are empty charges. Their evidence that he is a misogynist is that he has used the word “bimbo.” It is an amazingly ignorant charge. The word made it into our vocabulary thanks to the Clintons and the personae of the Clinton era. Surely you remember President Bill Clinton’s aide, Betsey Wright, and her warnings about “bimbo eruptions.” Another popularizer of the word bimbo was George Stephanopoulos who wrote of “bimbos” in his memoirs. Doubtless Hillary used the term, too.
As to being an anti-Semite, the New York Times speaks of Bannon’s “extended family members who are Jewish.” And he is defended by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, an orthodox Jew who is married to Donald’s splendid daughter, Ivanka. My guess is that no administration in years will have been as close an ally of Israel as the Trump administration. I would only ask Bannon’s critics to show me their evidence of anti-Semitism. Moreover, show me the evidence that he is a racist. Bret Stephens comes up with Bannon’s support for something called the “alt-right movement.” Stephens says in the Wall Street Journal that Bannon associates with “the alt-right movement he has proudly championed through his Breitbart website.”
Well, Bannon’s Breitbart website is open to all sorts of movements, which is part of his political strategy. He wants to include all Americans willing to support Donald Trump. He has not “proudly championed” the alt-right, and on Monday, the Trump people renounced it. Bannon does open his site to many other kinds of Americans. It is part of Bannon’s inclusion of what he calls “the forgotten man.” There are many forgotten men and women in America, and Bannon welcomes their participation in politics. Let me be specific: Late in the day on Monday, word came from Trump Tower that Donald opposed the “Heil Trump” movement, that is to say the so-called alt-right.
One other thing that the discredited left has against Bannon, he championed the Government Accountability Institute. Its president, Peter Schweizer, is the author of the most damaging anti-Clinton book of the recent election cycle, Clinton Cash.
Bannon is in sync with the political movement of the present. He will continue to get a lot more flak, but it will come from the voices of the past. He is winning.
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