ROME — Steve Bannon’s whirlwind tour of three continents took him to Italy’s capital on Thursday, to deliver a head-spinning diatribe on world events, economics, the environment and the prospects of Donald Trump’s reelection, about which he characteristically managed to be both cryptic and definitive at the same time.
If Trump can last the next six months, “and that’s a big if,” Bannon said, he will win bigger than in 2016.
Bannon, who has been spending much of his time lately in Europe, promoting an alliance of populist right-wing parties, was in Japan less than two weeks ago, praising Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as “Trump before Trump” before jetting off to Cincinnati, then Detroit, to rally support for privately funding the Great Mexican Wall, with attendees nearly outnumbered by protesters outside.
Two days ago, he was in Washington, D.C., along with the son of visiting Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, partying with conservatives at the Trump International Hotel. And here he was in Rome, speaking before a group of around 150 journalists at the 17th century Biblioteca Angelica, a gorgeous high-ceilinged building lined with a million old books.
The stunning library was built in 1604, he noted, “three years before the British set foot in Virginia, my home state,” a remark whose significance was lost on most of the Italian journalists present, and the Americans. Chinese President Xi Jinping is making secret deals with Pope Francis, he asserted, without citing evidence except that Xi was also in the Italian capital that evening. The Catholic Church in North America will soon go broke and Chinese tech giant Huawei is a Trojan horse that will bring the world to data wars. “The 5G rollout of Huawei will give them complete domination of manufacturing,” he said. “Their concept is to absolutely break the Westphalian system,” he added, in a reference to the 1648 treaties that ended the Thirty Years’ War. He went on to pass along the little-known fact that the yellow jacket movement in France was a result of forcing ordinary citizens to pay for Chinese pollution.
“The environmental movement is a new religion, a theology, not a science,” he went on. And the reason it’s reared up is conservatives have ceded power in education and allowed progressives to instill “cultural Marxism” in the schools.
There was much more in his rambling hourlong talk, sponsored by the Italian press association, Lettera 22, followed by an equally uninformative hourlong question-and-answer period.
About the 2020 election in the U.S., he gave his opinion that the most potent Democratic combo would be Sen. Kamala Harris and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke. But he also predicted that Hillary Clinton might yet enter the race, since “the vampire hasn’t had a stake driven through her heart.” The late Arizona Sen. John McCain, who has been the object of a sustained attack by President Trump over the last week, would never have won his last Senate race if Trump hadn’t endorsed him, said Bannon, who went on to echo Trump’s grievance over McCain’s deciding vote to kill Obamacare repeal in 2017.
And even though Russia was thuggish, it should be embraced, because the world would need its help against China, whose president, along with the pope, seems to have become one of Bannon’s newest targets.
Eyes grew glazed, yawns were stifled and when the show was finally wrapped up, photographers surrounded Bannon, nearly mobbing him, until in an instant he had disappeared into the night and, hopefully, into a bed for what appears to be much-needed sleep.
Melissa Rossi is an American journalist based in Western Europe.
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