President Bannon/Trump has trotted out a new spokesperson—Stephen Miller—and he’s even scarier than KellyAnne Conway. I saw him interviewed the other evening, and his defense of the Bannon/Trump Muslim ban really worried me—because he was strikingly more articulate about and more certain of his views than any other Bannon/Trump apologist I’ve seen.
Why Miller, all of a sudden? Conway has made herself well known as the best propagandist and liar since Goebbels. But her shtick has begun to wear thin, and her most recent proclamation of the existence of “alternative facts” has eroded her clout and earned her much derision. Sean Spicer, Bannon/Trump’s official press secretary, isn’t faring well either: His belligerent, in-over-his-head presence is proving ineffective in defending Bannon/Trump’s indefensible policy moves.
So, now we get Stephen Miller. According to Politico, as a close Senate aide to Jeff Sessions, Miller was a behind-the-scenes architect of the successful effort to kill comprehensive immigration reform in 2014. Miller became a senior adviser to the Trump campaign in January 2016, served as a “pre-show” warm-up speaker at many Trump campaign rallies, and is now a senior policy adviser in the White House. Miller is said to have written Trump’s “carnage” speech for his inauguration. Bannon is quoted as saying that Miller is the person who “helped Donald Trump find his voice.” Politico calls him Trump’s “resident ideologue.”
Miller, now 32 years old, got his start in high school, reports Jill Colvin of the Associated Press.
[He] was a teenager in California when got his first political gig as a regular guest on a local conservative talk radio show, eager to complain about his liberal high school. In columns written for local newspapers, he took on what he called its plague of political correctness.
The school’s decision to make announcements in Spanish “demeans the immigrant population as incompetent, and makes a mockery of the American ideal of personal accomplishment,” Miller wrote. He complained about the school offering condoms to underage students, allowing a club for gay students and failing to ask students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance every day.
Miller’s most recent claim to fame [shame] is his authorship of the executive order slamming the door on immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim-majority nations. Even conservative commentator Joe Scarborough has criticized Miller for his high-handed approach to the executive order, which he wrote with little or no consultation with Congressional, policy or legal experts. There is also reporting that Miller and Bannon did, in fact, work with people on Capitol Hill, but they were Congressional staffers who worked with them in secret, promised not to tell their bosses, and signed non-disclosure agreements about their collaboration. [Scarborough isn’t condemning the policy itself, of course, just the ineffective and confusing rollout. Ugh.]
But it’s not just Miller’s cockiness and his radically conservative, white-nationalist policy ideas that scare me. [He and Richard Spencer–who coined the euphemism “alt-right” for white nationalist–have been friends since college.] What worries me even more is how effective he seems to be at defending the Trump/Bannon [and now Miller] agenda. In stark contrast to Trump, Miller speaks in full sentences and paragraphs. He speaks in a calm, confident style. He knows what he is talking about, and sounds convincing, even when he is spewing the xenophobic garbage that is quickly becoming US policy under the Bannon/Trump presidency.
Kellyanne Conway is an obvious, sellout liar. Sean Spicer is inept and counter-productively antagonistic. But Miller—at least by his demeanor, makes those two look like amateurs. Miller, I think, actually believes in the destructive policies that he is pushing, and you have to listen very carefully to find the flaws in his rather cogently articulated arguments. [But there are plenty of obvious lies in there.] People can see that Trump is immature, truth-averse and incompetent. Miller, on the other hand, is going to fool a lot of people. And that is very worrisome.
Watch this CBS interview from Jan. 30, 2017, to see what I mean: