In a normal campaign I wouldn’t spend a lot of time unpacking the exotic views of various campaign staff members but sometimes it has to be done because the actions and statements of campaign staff tells a larger story about the candidate and his campaign. I think this is such a case.
This is via Buzzfeed’s McKay Coppins and Andrew Kaczynski.
Trump campaign CEO Stephen Bannon once criticized Mitt Romney’s five sons for making time to serve as Mormon missionaries without having served in the military.
Bannon made the remarks in an October 2012 interview on Conservative Republican Forum Radio, when he was still chairman of Breitbart News and promoting his documentary, The Hope and the Change.
“Mitt Romney goes to the Republican convention, gives his acceptance speech, people give him a standing ovation, and he doesn’t have the common decency to say one thing about our troops fighting in Afghanistan?” Bannon said. “This is a guy who avoided military duty in Vietnam; who has five sons who look like movie stars who have not served their country one day. Oh, but by the way all of them did their two years of Mormon missionary service — every one of them.”
Romney obtained four draft deferments during the Vietnam war, three for his academic studies and one for his service as a Mormon “minister of religion.” Donald Trump also received four draft deferments, including one medical deferment that his campaign has attributed to bone spurs in his feet.
In fairness to Bannon, a lot of us did not support Mitt Romney because we thought he was a weak candidate and a very imperfect vessel to take the fight to Barack Obama. Here at RedState we were harsh to the Mitt-bots and banned his fluffers relentlessly. We hammered NRO’s Kathryn Jean Lopez and the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin for their unrequited lust for the Mittster. But we did not attack his faith. That was what Obama did.
First, the irony of Bannon criticizing one rich guy for getting draft deferments and then going to work for another rich guy who got the same number of deferments is intense. At least Romney’s last deferment was a legitimate one for missionary service, not for ass bunions or whatever Trump had. The fact that he can do that shows either his criticism of Romney was dishonest or his sense of ethics is so malleable that it simply doesn’t bother him.
Secondly, the Trump campaign has operated on the fringe of overt racism since its early days. I’m not a believer in most of the dog whistles that the left hears, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but it is hard to watch the Trump campaign in action and not realize that they are encouraging racists and catering to the very worst impulses of American nationalism. It appears that this was was feature, not a bug, to Bannon. We all know what Bannon was doing here. He was painting Romney as a mysterious “other.” As a member of that strange religion that wears magic underwear and sends its kids off to wear white shirts and bicycle about spreading the Mormon gospel. More to the point, the fact that the Romney children did, in fact, take time out of their lives to do missionary work should have been something that was praiseworthy. While I am not a Mormon, I’d be the first to admit that service as a Mormon missionary is an exercise in character building that most of us would like to avoid.
As a footnote, and speaking as a career airborne infantry officer, I also want to point out that the US military has been all volunteer since 1972/75, depending upon how you want to count it, and that no one is under any moral legal obligation to join the Armed Forces.
As to Romney’s acceptance speech, it isn’t like Donald Trump had anything to say about the troops in Afghanistan and other places who are still dying in combat.
It is obvious that Steve Bannon is right at home in the Trump campaign. I only hope that once this sorry election season is over that the sorry quasi-racist parasites that his campaign has shined a light on from conservatism and from American political life.