A friend, schmoozing at a political event in Richmond, Virginia, asked a top GOP official, “How do you think Trump is doing?” The official burfled a few platitudes before sharing — as they say on the internet — a jaw-dropping bombshell: Long ago, as a teen, Steve Bannon, the alt-right Brietbart chief, nationalist and propagandist who became President Donald Trump’s campaign architect, White House strategist and political Svengali, was a babysitter for a neighbor family.
Son of an AT&T company lineman and splicer, Bannon grew up with four brothers in the Ginter Park section of Richmond, a neighborhood with a “Rockwellian feel, populated by patriotic, blue-collar Democrats,” the Richmond Times-Dispatch said. “The Bannon children were expected to work, and Bannon started by delivering newspapers and mowing lawns before taking on tougher assignments at construction sites and a local junkyard.”
No mention of the babysitting gig, which I can’t verify independently. But alt-fact or real, this info-nugget changes the Bannon narrative.
The “failing” New York Times and other liberal coastal mainstream snowflake media have hard-cast Bannon as a modern ur-fascist pocketing millions by suckering — and then betraying — the angry, resentful, populist mob that’s always been the downside of this nation’s model for democracy. Bannon’s also earned a rep as National Security Council crasher and scribbler of executive orders frightening innocent Mexican and Muslim families and children to thrill the darkest instincts of the Trump political base. Aside from Bannon the individual person, Bannon the meme has become Homeland’s Dar Adal and Brett O’Keefe plus Star Wars’ Darth Vader, Darth Maul, Grand Moff Tarkin and Jabba the Hutt dung-rolled into one horned and fiery end-of-time Diabolus.
But. If Bannon launched his path to the White House as child care provider, then the villain model — like his collection of suits — doesn’t fit so well.
Naturally you wonder: What was Bannon like as a babysitter? Was this a formative experience, an early Apprentice-style training, forging the Trump-whispering Bannon we know today? To find out, I thought about tracking down and interviewing the kids that Bannon babysat. Better yet, respecting their privacy, my precious time, and public disdain for facts, I made up what the kids might have said.
Here are some key insights and edited excerpts from my interviews that never happened:
Steve is fun. “One day, we were stuck at home while our mom was out. The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold wet day. Then Steve arrived and showed us a thing or two about how to shake it up. Like flying kites in the house, knocking pictures off the wall, and ruining mom’s polka-dotted dress. It was a complete disaster and mess. Steve said, ‘That’s the point!’ He was even better than Jim Carrey’s Cat in the Hat. Fortunately, Steve also cleaned things up before our mom got home. He also advised that if our mom asked what we did while she was gone, to get Sean or Kellyanne to spin it. Whoever they were.”
Steve is responsible. “Before he started babysitting for us, our family was pretty careless about home security. It was a pretty safe, stable and quiet neighborhood, and we all knew each other, so we didn’t pay attention to the locks on the doors. Sometimes we left the door open. We definitely didn’t have an alarm system. Looking back, it was like anyone could just walk in the house, stay as long as they wanted, and eat our food. That changed when Steve helped us build a 55-foot fence around the yard so nobody could get in. He also put up signs warning people from South Richmond, Hillside Court and other ‘different’ neighborhoods next to ours that, respectfully, they’re not welcome unless they have three forms of identification, at least one including a picture, and also a concealed-carry permit that proves they’ve read and they respect the U.S. Constitution. Thanks to Steve, we felt safer.”
Steve is disciplined. “In spite of his shaggy hair, Steve was not one of those young people today who challenge authority and the rules, like those ridiculous protesters. To the contrary, Steve was a stickler. Which was good — kids need to learn to obey the rules. That’s why it was good that Steve once stopped Guadalupe, who came over once a week to clean our house, to show her immigration papers. She had to walk a couple of miles and take three buses home and back again to bring them, but she was fine. Not like Miguel and his landscaping crew, who thanks to Steve went back to where they came from instead of being inside our wall, voting illegally for Democrats and cheating taxpayers by living off welfare while cutting our lawn and working three other jobs that nobody here wanted for a lot less pay than anyone would accept. Yes, we feel terrible that their kids had to grow up alone in America without their parents. But at least they learned that rules are rules.”
Steve is persistent. “We had another babysitter who frankly, was nicer, calmer, definitely neater, and a lot closer to our dad. He also had a LOT of other jobs. His name was Jared. Actually, his girlfriend was related to us. She was really pretty, poised, smart, sensible, and dressed nice too — probably from Nordstrom. The problem was, Steve acted jealous of Jared, like they were in competition. You’d think this would put our dad in an awkward position, because he liked and trusted both Steve and Jared. But dad also seemed to like the rivalry. Of course, back then we kids didn’t know that some of the names Steve used to call Jared, like ‘cuck’ and ‘globalist,’ were insults.”
After pretend-talking with the kids that Bannon babysat, and assuming they turned into fine adults and citizens, I suggest that before we dump on him, let’s look at his whole legacy. At very least — while silly and perhaps disrespectful to say — if the President of the United States needed a babysitter, then Steve definitely has the experience and the chops.
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer