On this one thing there is agreement: America is under attack.
On everything else, Steve Bannon and John Brennan, both of whom issued over-the-top call to arms on the same day, fly in extremely opposite directions.
They both issued dire contradictory warnings about the future of the country on the same day: Brennan arguing that Russians have interfered with the US and were helped by the Trump campaign, and Bannon released a heart-pounding movie trailer that argues the media is bent on bringing Trump down – and the November election is the only chance to save his presidency.
It’s hard to believe the two men are talking about the same President.
Brennan is the former CIA director and current presidential critic stripped by President Donald Trump of his security clearance. Brennan’s is the top name on what The Washington Post aptly described as an “enemies list” of current and former intelligence and law enforcement officials being reviewed by the administration.
Bannon is the disavowed White House strategist who has continued to do guerrilla-style political battle on behalf of the President from his own weird purgatory.
Brennan was among the intelligence community officials to tell Trump of Russian interference in the 2016 election and he now says Trump’s claims of no collusion with Russians are “hogwash.”
That’s the language he used in an op-ed in The New York Times, published the day after Trump’s mostly symbolic but still punitive decision to strip Brennan of his ability to review classified information. Brennan said what the intelligence committee knew about Russian meddling in 2016 has been augmented by the work of the media, which Brennan praised.
He was more direct on Twitter, saying Trump’s decision to revoke his clearance won’t silence him and should make every American worry.
“This action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics,” he wrote. “It should gravely worry all Americans, including intelligence professionals, about the cost of speaking out. My principles are worth far more than clearances. I will not relent.”
Trump has long pushed the idea of a “deep state” of entrenched bureaucrats out to get him. With his efforts to demonize Brennan and others, Trump has been building that narrative up around them.
Bannon, by the way, seized on the deep state conspiracy theory long before Trump went public with it and has long called the media the “opposition.”
While Brennan was sounding the alarm about Trump’s attacks on US intelligence, the FBI and the Justice Department, Bannon was launching a new super PAC specifically to target the media, and teasing a new documentary, Trump@War, the trailer of which is a mashup of out-of-context clips from news networks and interviews with former Trump officials saying the world is out to get Trump. It’s not clear who his financial backers are since his previous benefactors, the Mercer family, are among those who disavowed him.
“It’s very simple to me,” Bannon told Politico of his new group and of the stakes of the November election. “This is a referendum on Trump, up-or-down vote on impeachment. This other side, they’re very motivated – and they’re motivated for one thing: They want to impeach Donald Trump.”
The message from both men is similar – America is under attack.
Brennan’s enemy is Russia and, increasingly, Trump. Bannon’s enemy is the media and anyone who criticizes Trump.
Each effort is designed to get the base fired up. Each is meant to enhance their own positions. Neither is interested in what the other side has to say.