Review: In 'American Dharma,' Steve Bannon gleefully reflects on the election of President Trump

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

Except that Bannon does not see Falstaff as a man scorned, not in the slightest. "It was not betrayal, it was the natural order of things," he insists. "It had to happen."

Though this film analysis has its interest, the most involving parts of "American Dharma" are not Bannon expounding on his political philosophy but his postmortem on the nuts and bolts of the successful campaign he helped run against Hillary Clinton.

Bannon cut his teeth working for the Breitbart News website, and he can barely contain his glee at how Breitbart made the most of the Anthony Weiner affair after having the congressman's Twitter feed under 24-7 observation.

Then there is Bannon's version of how he turned the Trump campaign around after coming onboard when the candidate was "double digits down in the polls."

It was his idea, the man says, to position Trump as "the agent of change against a corrupt system." When Clinton attacked the nationalistic Bannon-Breitbart universe, Bannon says "she walked into a trap.

"If she was going to preach identity politics and we are going to preach bringing jobs back, I knew we had her."

Also instructive is Bannon's claim that he counteracted the "Access Hollywood" tape scandal by showing up at the next presidential debate with women who accused Bill Clinton of rape, a move he delightedly describes as "jiujitsu."

Completely self-congratulatory though this material is, it also gives a disheartening picture of manipulation and gullibility. If, as H.L. Mencken claimed, nobody ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American public, that apparently continues to be true where political matters are concerned.



Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes

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