In a Washington Post profile of Trump White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, Michael Kranish and Craig Whitlock write that Bannon’s experiences as a naval officer during the Carter administration helped shape his conservative political beliefs. For Bannon, raised in an Irish Catholic Democratic household in Richmond, VA, President Carter’s botched rescue mission during the Iran hostage crisis was a political turning point.
From the Washington Post:
As Bannon has told it, the failed hostage rescue is one of the defining moments of his life, providing a searing example of failed military and presidential leadership — one that he carries with him as he serves as President Trump’s chief strategist. He has said he wasn’t interested in politics until he concluded that then-President Jimmy Carter had undercut the Navy and blown the rescue mission.
Still, the experience shaped his thinking. He saw the military buildup under President Ronald Reagan, and the hostage-taking in Tehran continues to inform his view about that region of the world, as well as the role of U.S. military power and its commander in chief.
Some of Bannon’s shipmates recalled that the crew was given a ribbon for its modest role [in the rescue mission]. But Bannon and many other crew members were livid at Carter for the botched rescue.
“It shattered his confidence in President Carter,” Masso said. “It made him all the more in the tank for Reagan.”
In October 1980, with the Foster in port at Long Beach, Bannon went to Masso’s home to watch a Carter-Reagan debate. “He watched that debate like a prizefight,” Masso said.
Three months later, after Reagan won the election, Bannon was working for the new president, serving as an assistant in the office of the chief of naval operations at the Pentagon. He watched with satisfaction as Reagan increased the military budget and strengthened the Navy, with most of the focus on combating the Soviet Union. He served for three years and simultaneously studied national security and earned a master’s degree at Georgetown University.
Read the rest here.