Richard Connor: I hate to say I told you so … but I told you so

Steve Bannon

I like being right. But who doesn’t?

By “right,” let me be clear,” I mean “correct” – not any of the many other definitions and variations of “right” being bandied about these days.

And at the risk of seeming to say “I told you so,” I have to say, well, I told you so. When President Donald Trump fired White House strategist Steve Bannon on Aug. 18, I was reminded that I urged Trump to dump Bannon way last November, about 10 minutes or so after the president hired the narcissistic bully.

That insightful recommendation was made in a post-election column that contained a few other prescient observations about the newly minted commander in chief and his prospects for success. For purposes of reflection, let’s revisit that column:

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“This is a story I tell often and in a prideful way.

“Before I write it, though, let me admit I voted for Hillary Clinton and am glad I did. Now those among my readers who want to search for a bias can find one if they want but I still consider myself open-minded and a political independent.

“My first reaction to her loss was to slough it off as the will of the people and to affirm my faith in a government of checks and balances and, I thought, maybe Donald Trump can grow into the job, be fair, and not act like a despotic lunatic.

“Three days later I began to understand the fears of minorities, gay people, immigrants, and, yes, women. The symbol of their hope for equality at work and at home had been defeated by someone polar opposite to their dreams.

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“My heart goes out to all the women who cried the night Hillary Clinton was defeated.

“So here is my story.

“My first of three children was born, a lovely redheaded daughter, when I was young and in my 20s. The year was 1968 and I would admit to being far from an evolved man intellectually or socially. Some may still view my maturity as arrested. But that first child was a daughter and I was aware enough of my good fortune to know that as a man I already had received a lot of lucky breaks.

“I wanted the same for her.

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“She was named after two women, one my mother, and both were smart, independent, strong, and made their own way through life come hell or high water.

“Early inspiration for me to help guide her and encourage her dreams came from an LP by Marlo Thomas. We played it constantly for her and for us. It was called Free to Be You and Me, and was popular at the dawn of what was often called “the women’s movement.”

“Primary among the themes of the music album was the need for young girls and women to have the hope and inspiration that they could be whatever they wanted to be. It also celebrated what we would now call “differences” among us.

“As a reporter back then, I covered a speech by Gloria Steinem and if I needed convincing that someone could be drop dead beautiful and funny and smart I needed to look no further. Almost 50 years later, she’s still as vexing but I wonder if she believes that she and those who worked alongside her have had measurable success?

“My oldest daughter has an impressive everything: education, career, parenthood and marriage. Her younger sister is still in high school but already a high achiever in school, socially, and athletically.

“I know they will soldier on and fight, perhaps even harder for a woman to be elected president and for equality in what is still a man’s world.

“But I worry for those women who are traumatized by Trump’s election.

“One glimmer of hope I see is this: He may do more for a stronger Democratic Party than any Democrat. Personally, I belong to neither of the major parties and probably will not enlist in either.

“One reason my optimism has turned to fear and pessimism is Trump’s appointment of Stephen K. Bannon as his chief strategist. This is a man most often described as sexist, narcissistic, homophobic, anti-Semitic and racist.

“Everyone who hires men and women for jobs makes mistakes. Trump could offer those without hope a glimmer by admitting his first and firing Bannon.

“Then maybe he gets a chance to prove millions of people wrong. But, he has sent his first frightening message to the American people.”

After I wrote this I received a few comments from local folks saying I was wrong about Bannon. I knew I wasn’t and followed the column with one quoting some experts about his support of the “alt-right” – the very same alt-right that on Aug. 12 took its racist, white supremacist, neo-Nazi doctrine to a rally in Virginia that ended in violence and death for a courageous woman who dared to march in defiance of the alt-right cause.

Make no mistake. Trump booted Bannon not because the president no longer valued his chief strategist’s advice and counsel but because the combative and rudely outspoken Bannon had become a disruptive presence in the White House, antagonizing friend and foe alike.

But no matter the reason, Bannon’s departure is a good thing. Now that he’s gone, Trump needs to banish him completely, purging any remnant of influence his friend and ex-adviser might have over policy and decision-making.

Richard Connor is president and publisher of the Fort Worth Business Press. Contact him at