Micek: Don't expect a kindler, gentler Trump
To live in the universe of Breitbart News is to live in a universe of perpetual fear and agitation.
"Suspected illegal immigrant allegedly carjacks elderly woman," one headline on the hyper-conservative, verging-on-nationalist site read Thursday morning. "Fire Department ordered removal of U.S. flags from fire trucks," blared another. "The ObamaCare Bomb: Plan 9 from Collectivist Space," warns still another headline.
Scroll down for more news about the jihadists in our midst and our surly neighbor to the south — Mexico.
And America's savior? Well, that would be one Donald J. Trump.
The Republican nominee's face is everywhere on the site. And it's tough to distinguish the Trump's anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric from that of the bold-faced headlines that burst from the screen.
Thus it's no surprise that the de facto merger between Team Trump and Breitbart has finally come to pass with the appointment of one of the site's senior executives, Steve Bannon, as the Trump campaign's CEO.
Bannon is one-half of a two-headed leadership team that also includes longtime Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway, who's pushed the troubled Paul Manafort (he of Ukrainian Cash fame) from the top of the Trumpian Heap.
It's the campaign's second reset in as many months. But if you were expecting a kinder, gentler Trump as a result, you can pretty much forget it.
While Conway brings a much-needed dose of professionalism to Trump's foundering campaign (he's trailing Democrat Hillary Clinton by double-digits in many key battleground states and by an average of 6 percent nationwide), Bannon is another matter entirely.
As The Washington Post reports, Bannon is a big fan of Nigel Farage, the former head of the ultra-right wing U.K. Independence Party. And Bannon stands pretty much alone in continuing to think that foisting Sarah Palin on the voting public was a good idea.
It's widely expected that Bannon, a former Wall Streeter, will just encourage Trump's more nationalist instincts, rather than blunt them.
The candidate himself was reportedly agitated with attempts to domesticate him and wants to return the two-fisted brawling that won him the GOP nomination.
In that, Bannon is a perfect match.
In the past few weeks and months alone, the Breitbart site has, as the New York Times reports, "accused President Obama of "importing more hating Muslims"; compared Planned Parenthood's work to the Holocaust; called Bill Kristol, the conservative commentator, a "renegade Jew"; and advised female victims of online harassment to "just log off" and stop "screwing up the internet for men," illustrating that point with a picture of a crying child.
In a statement, Trump's campaign favorably cited a Bloomberg Politics report describing the pugilistic entrepreneur as "the most dangerous political operative in America," who, along with Conway,has the "experience and expertise needed to defeat Hillary Clinton in November."
Trump's final pivot to the Breit-wing will no doubt play well with the crowds who fill the candidate's rallies, gleefully shouting "Lock her up!" every time Clinton's name is mentioned.
But to senior Republicans looking to hold onto their majorities in the U.S. House and Senate, this is bad, bad news.
And it will surely send more Republicans, especially those in marginal seats, fleeing to the exits.
It's a mixed bag, meanwhile, for Clinton.
There's no doubt that more radioactive rhetoric from the Trump camp will hurt the Manhattan mogul's standing in the polls. That's good news for Clinton, who can gin up the Democratic base by citing Trump's latest outrage on the stump.
That will also help lure moderate Republican voters, such as those in the Philadelphia suburbs and northern Virginia, into Clinton's camp.
But more aggressive attacks, spearheaded by a guy whose website specializes in giving Clinton agita, will keep the Democratic nominee on defense.
Questions about Clinton's honesty and trustworthiness remain her campaign's weakest spot. And Clinton is her own worst enemy when it comes to trying to explain that behavior.
Heading into the home stretch, though, she'll have to gamble that voters will detest Trump more than they dislike her.
And since "Letting Trump be Trump" has prompted The Donald's decline, Steve Bannon may only hasten the final meltdown.
John Micek is the opinion editor and political columnist for PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek.