Steve Bannon, campaign CEO for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, right, looks on during a national security meeting with advisors at Trump Tower, Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Bannon Hoped to Use the Healthcare Vote to Make an “Enemies List” Against Principled Conservatives

According to the Hill.com and the New York Times, White House senior advisor and President Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon “sought to use the healthcare vote last week to make an “enemies list” of lawmakers who would vote “no” on the GOP initiative.”

“Mr. Bannon and the president’s more soft-spoken legislative affairs director, Marc Short, pushed Mr. Trump hard to insist on a public vote, as a way to identify, shame and pressure “no” voters who were killing their best chance to unravel the health care law. One Republican congressional aide who was involved in the last-minute negotiations said Mr. Bannon and Mr. Short were seeking to compile an enemies list. Mr. Ryan repeatedly counseled the president to avoid seeking vengeance — at least until he has passed spending bills and a debt-ceiling increase needed to keep the government running. In the end, the president decided to back down.”

This hardball tactic went along with a previous strategy Bannon tried to deploy during a meeting inside the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with the House Freedom Caucus last week.

Bannon opened the meeting with HFC members with an ultimatum. “Guys, look. This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill.”

That gambit did not set well with some in the caucus. “You know, the last time someone ordered me to something, I was 18 years old. And it was my daddy. And I didn’t listen to him, either,” according to one Freedom Caucus member who spoke with Axios.com.

Tough politics and threats only work against politicians who are not principled.

Bannon is not a conservative, but a nationalist. I would also add he is an opportunist. As Ben Shapiro, who worked at Breitbart, where Bannon served for four years as editor-at-large, wrote, “Bannon is vindictive, a nasty figure, infamous for verbally abusing supposed friends and threatening enemies. Bannon is a smarter version of Trump: he’s an aggressive self-promoter who name-drops to heighten his profile and woo bigger names, and then uses those bigger names as stepping stools to his next destination.”

Erick wrote a great piece Monday morning asking who is poisoning the president’s mind. Could one answer be Bannon?

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Clayton Felts

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