In volume, the Post gets it right: We were stunned by the wealth of reporting and analysis in this morning's Washington Post.
Don't get us wrong! Twenty-five years of progressive, liberal and mainstream press failure has given us our President Trump. For decades, our hapless tribes all slept in the woods. At this point, nothing can fix the disaster our incompetence and lethargy have given us.
That said, today's Washington Post was stuffed to the gills with reporting, opinion and analysis. Some of the analysis was less than perfect, and Dana Milbank's lazy opinion column deserved an old-fashioned gentleman's D.
But it seems to us that the Washington Post is making a giant belated effort of late. We especially recommend the front-page profile of the Rasputin-like Steven K. Bannon, helpmate to Donald J. Trump.
The profile, written by Sellers and Fahrenthold, runs just over 1900 words. Among its various elements, we invite you to note the parts of Bannon's apparent world view which would be termed "progressive" if we had any such movement or point of view within our failing political culture.
We refer, for example, to this analysis of the world's alleged class divide:
SELLERS AND FAHRENTHOLD (2/1/17): In his public statements, Bannon espoused a basic idea that Trump would later seize as the centerpiece of his campaign.Sellers and Fehrenthold didn't explain why someone as strange as Bannon would have been speaking at a Vatican conference in the first place. But should a progressive disagree with the ideas expressed in that passage?
While others saw the world rebounding from the financial crisis of 2008, Bannon just saw it becoming more divided by class.
The elites that had caused the crisis—or, at least, failed to stop it—were now rising higher. Everyone else was being left behind.
"The middle class, the working men and women in the world...are just tired of being dictated to by what we call the party of Davos," Bannon said in a 2014 speech to a conference at the Vatican in a recording obtained by BuzzFeed. Davos is a Swiss ski resort that hosts an annual conclave of wealthy and powerful people.
Bannon blamed both major political parties for this system and set out to force his ideas on an unwilling Republican leadership.
Later in their profile, Sellers and Farenthold place Bannon's views about various kinds of immigration into this progressive-sounding context. On the less uplifting side, they also describe his paranoiac-sounding ideas about the Muslim world:
SELLERS AND FAHRENTHOLD: Even as Bannon was calling for a general retreat from multinational alliances, however, he was warning of the need for a new alliance—involving only a subset of the world's countries.Does Bannon think this perceived war of the worlds "is urgent enough to take priority over other rivalries?" As they continue, Sellers and Fahrenthold place Bannon's ideas about Russia into this context:
The "Judeo-Christian West" was at war, he said, but didn't seem to understand it yet.
"There is a major war brewing, a war that's already global," Bannon said at the Vatican in 2014, at a time when the Islamic State was gaining territory. "Every day that we refuse to look at this as what it is—and the scale of it, and really the viciousness of it—will be a day where you will rue that we didn't act."
Bannon has given few details about the mechanics of the war he thinks the West should fight. But he has been clear that it is urgent enough to take priority over other rivalries and worries.
SELLERS AND FAHRENTHOLD: In his talk at the Vatican, Bannon was asked about Russian President Vladimir Putin. Bannon's answer was two-sided.Mixed with this are glimpses of Bannon's apparent craziness. We refer, for example, to his comparisons of himself to Thomas Cromwell.
"I think that Putin and his cronies are really a kleptocracy, that are really an imperialist power that want to expand," he said. But, Bannon said, there were bigger concerns than Russia—and there was something to admire in Putin's call for more traditional values.
"However, I really believe that in this current environment, where you're facing a potential new caliphate that is very aggressive that is really a situation—I'm not saying we can put [Russia] on a back burner—but I think we have to deal with first things first," Bannon said.
"I am Thomas Cromwell in the court of the Tudors," he's quoted saying to the Hollywood Reporter. Maybe he was just joking when he said that. His strange past comments about Lenin needing to blow up the world go unquoted today.
Today's profile of Bannon isn't exactly new. As the Post writers note, the material from the Vatican speech first appeared at BuzzFeed. That said, the profile invites the types of discussion the country needs to have, now that we've arranged, through our haplessness and our sloth, to have a President Trump.
The profile of Bannon is just one of the Post's intriguing features today. We'd also direct your attention to the 1800-word report by Jenna Johnson, "How Trump's claim of voter fraud spread like a virus."
Good God! For perhaps the past fifteen years, we've been begging our big newspapers to publish this kind of analysis, which traces the way Trump's unfounded claims about illegal voting were spread all through the nation.
In our view, Johnson's work could be crisper at several junctures. Beyond that, we've always said that pieces like this belong on the front pages of major newspapers, not on page A11, where Johnson's report appears.
That said, this type of reporting is badly needed. In substantial detail, readers are told about the way an unfounded, apparently bogus claim has been relentlessly sold to the world.
Today's Post is crammed with useful work. It's just too bad that this mountain of effort arrives on the scene too late.
We've already purchased our President Trump. We slumbered and snored for several decades, bringing our current irreversible disaster to pass.