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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Some key takeaways from today’s Fusion GPS testimony release.

Are there others you saw? Let us know at our comments email address linked under the logo.

Sometimes when a mob boss kills someone who betrayed him he’ll leave the body out in the town square for hours or days, a mix of final humiliation and example to others. Also, Breitbart just fired Steve Bannon.

With a new biography of Ulysses S. Grant out by the man who helped put Alexander Hamilton back in the center of 21st American popular culture, I’m late to the game to sing Grant’s praises. I have not read Chernow’s book. But I have been rereading Grant’s memoirs. I began writing this post at the end of last year when the valorization of Confederate military leaders was more at the center of our public debate. But these are issues of long standing, going on two centuries. They remain as present and consequential as they’ve ever been and Grant is at the center of that.

Until relatively recently Grant, at least as President, had a poor historical reputation. His strengths as a military leader were also overshadowed in the popular imagination by Confederate generals like Robert E. Lee and others. But in both cases, much of Grant’s dim reputation was directly tied to the way national unity was built in the late 19th century on the abandonment of the country’s newly freed African-American citizens and what we might call the Union theory of the war itself. I have always found it notable that the official records of what we call the Civil War, published by the US government are entitled The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion.

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After voter suppression forces failed out with their ‘fraud’ commission, the Supreme Court may give them a better shot at advancing their goals. Check out our story.

At the end of the day, Trump is right. He created Trumpism, not Steve Bannon. Bannon came into the campaign late when the broad contours and themes were already in place. Bannon played a huge role in the final months. Bannon had been advising Trump for years before he joined his campaign. It was from the Breitbart, antic and alt-rightish wing of the GOP that Trump drew his strength.

But here’s something interesting to note. When Trump unloaded on Bannon the biggest cheers came from people like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. In a sense, in casting Bannon to the wolves, Trump cozied up to Bannon’s biggest enemies: establishment Republicans on Capitol Hill. That comes after Trump’s tax law victory which was a pretty open and total embrace of the same people.

We shouldn’t look at this as a ‘betrayal’ of Trump’s ‘populist’ message. It’s more an example of how close the GOP and Trumpism were by late 2015 and how much more closely Trump has welded them together since. Trump’s ‘populism’ was fundamentally racist and xenophobic in nature. On that front and on the more general front of breaking things, Trump’s delivered.

It’s also clear that there are a lot of people who hate Bannon even among the more raucous and wild Trump lieutenants.

But the internal dynamics of the GOP turn heavily on a perpetual drama of rightist insurgency and establishment betrayal. That was the opening that Trump exploited to become nominee and it’s one he’s continued to press since becoming President. In short, whether Trump’s absorbs the establishment’s agenda or the establishment fully absorbs his, Trump needs a feckless GOP establishment to pivot and define himself against. In the event, they’re not that far apart in policy terms. What we’ve seen pretty clearly is that Bannon can’t take ‘his’ supporters with them. When Trump turned on Bannon, basically all the high profile Trumpers turned on Bannon with a vengeance.

So maybe Bannon is through. But if Trump stays married to GOP ‘establishment’ figures, he himself becomes vulnerable to the establishment betrayal narrative which has been used against all of these guys. All of which leads me to think that Bannon may not really be through in the Trump world. No one pairs more clearly with Bannon’s racist nationalism or characterological recklessness than Trump. And vice versa. Trump may be done with this Bannon. But he clearly needs a Bannon type figure to drive his necessary and permanent war on the ‘establishment.’

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Rush pool report on comments from Trump press aide Hogan Gidley aboard Air Force One on whether there’s any redemption possible for Bannon. Most notable is reference to Ivanka’s and Don Jr’s ‘sacrifice’ in serving their nation. To criticize “two of the president’s children are serving this nation, sacrificing in their service, it is repugnant, it is grotesque.” More quotes after the jump …

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A week ago I said we were at the end of the beginning of the Trump/Russia story. The big question of whether there was collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign has been answered for anyone who has their eyes open. They did. The question is how far it went and what was involved. But there’s another question, related but distinct, which is in my mind perhaps the biggest question or mystery about the whole story.

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