In a special interview on Wednesday’s Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.- Leahy and Carmichael welcome back Ben Teitelbaum who wrote the book called “War for Eternity: Inside Bannon’s Far-Right Circle of Global Power Brokers.”
During the third hour, Teitelbaum described his personal politics and admitted that because of its complex nature it was difficult for him to find a home within one political ideology. He went on to describe how his book has been received by different political points of view noting that it was the Jeb Bushes and Paul Ryans of the world that particularly seemed disturbed with Steve Banon.
Leahy: We are joined now by a good friend and all-star panelist Crom Carmichael. And we are joined on the newsmakers line by our new friend Professor Benjamin Teitelbaum from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Author of the new book “War for Eternity: Inside Steve Bannon’s Far-Right Circle of Power Brokers.” Ben, welcome back.
Teitelbaum: It’s a pleasure to be with you, Michael.
Leahy: Ben, we had such an interesting conversation last time. Crom was here in the studio and he was writing down notes. He wants to ask you a whole bunch of questions. This is a friendly dialogue. This is not left versus right at all. Even though we’re Conservative on our end.
And Crom has some questions he wants to ask you about this. We found your book enlightening and very interesting. Your approach I thought was quite honest in the way you discussed Steve Bannon and his objectives. But I wanted to bring Crom in right now and he wants to ask you a couple of questions about your own personal world view.
Carmichael: Ben, thanks for coming back on.
Teitelbaum: It’s a pleasure.
Carmichael: I’m really fascinated by you because you’ve actually dug into Steve Bannon’s thinking a lot and Steve Bannon has been a very very strong proponent that China is not a competitor but is really an adversary and they need to be treated as an adversary and not as a competitor. So I’m curious with you doing all of that digging and with this COVID-19 coming out of China.
I’m kind of curious because you are out in Colorado which I guess is defined as kind of a purple state. Meaning it can go either way. You have a governor who is a relatively fiscally conservative person and socially liberal I think is how he used to describe himself. So I’m curious what you think about the politics and the economic effect of the coronavirus.
Teitelbaum: It’s exceptionally complicated of course as all of these things are. If we just start with the opening part of your question about how we look to China. If I’m understanding the subtext of it in this context I think I’m by no means an epidemiologist and I wouldn’t want to weigh in on theory’s of the virus’s origin myself.
You don’t need me for that. I certainly am troubled by one thing. If you think about the outcome. I think it is legitimate to be bothered by the lack of domestic production of medicines and medical equipment following an outbreak like this. The fact that we can’t have a crisis like this that can’t be born of the movement of people around the world.
Which in many ways can be a good thing. A lot of us can enjoy tourism and travel across the world. But we are absolutely helpless if we need to close ourselves down and start taking care of ourselves as domestically produced goods and products.
That is certainly part of the critique that Steve offers that seems fairly common-sensical to me. Despite all this, we still have to rely on and be in a pattern of exchange with China after the fact. Michael, you and I when we spoke last week that was just on the heels of the Chinese Communist Party attacking Steve in its main media channel.
And the purpose of them doing that was, of course, to preserve Steve as a scapegoat to preserve their reputation in the outbreak. Not China per se but the people pulling the strings behind the media and that would be the Communist Party. And that has been their goal all these years. So a lot of these pieces of critique are things that I sympathize with.
Carmichael: Ben, I want to be sure. Do you sympathize with the Chinese critique? Or you sympathize with Steve Bannon?
Teitelbaum: No the critique of China. (Chuckles)
Carmichael: His critique of China.
Leahy: Steve’s critique of China.
Carmichael: OK. Good. I just wanted to be clear on that.
Teitelbaum: That would be unusual to have a CCP sympathizer. (Laughter) We’re not that blue in Colorado. Yes. To that point, Colorado yes, it was a purple state. I’m not sure that it is anymore.
Leahy: Do you think it’s kind of a blue state now?
Teitelbaum: I think its a blue state now. It’s demographic changed. It’s an extremely young state and becoming a very urban state actually. The area from let’s say Fort Collins in the North down to Colorado Springs is becoming one giant urban center with a very very young population.
So that’s choking the state I’d say beyond purple status. I appreciated the quick response, to begin with, and I think he’s also being a realist about the economy and he’s said that we can’t pay our own bills as a state and society if we keep doing this indefinitely. So he’s been reopening things slowly. In general, I think he’s been behaving pretty well.
Leahy: Ben, let me ask you this question. Crom and I were talking after your last interview with us last week. How would you describe your own personal political philosophy?
Teitelbaum: Of course, everybody wants to say that it’s complicated. I generally lean to the left. The thing is that I can’t quite put myself on the map in the US. In Europe things used to be a little bit easier. I don’t mind social safety nets. I think that’s quite important.
Criminal justice reform is something I care about. On the other hand, I do not believe in open borders. I don’t believe in open borders in part out of concern for social safety nets. In that particular spot right there I can’t quite find a home for myself. (Chuckles)
Leahy: Let me follow up on that Ben. When you go and talk to us, I saw you were interview by Tom Hartman…
Leahy: Who’s kind of a far-left folk and been in radio for some time. How’s your book being received on the left, the center, and on the right? How are people responding to your treatment of Steve Bannon from the different political perspectives from your audience and from readers, and from those that conduct interviews of you?
Teitelbaum: The people who are most opposed to it so far have been in the center-right. Not let’s say like yourselves. I would say, Michael, its more kind of the, I don’t know, the Jeb Bush/Paul Ryan kind of wing.
Leahy: What is their objection?
Teitelbaum: I don’t think that they like Steve Bannon and they see him as a rabble-rouser.
Leahy: I can promise you that they don’t like Steve Bannon. (Laughter)
Teitelbaum: They don’t want to be told that he’s interesting or that he’s influential or that there’s anything to be seen there because he blew up their world a little bit. But on the left its a mix. It’s a mix of things. On the one hand, Steve’s thinking is so outside the bounds that that can be fascinating to them.
I also always get criticism for not writing a book against Steve Bannon. The subtitle of the book notwithstanding I would never have taken this time away from my family to write a big book and to research it for two years in order to tear somebody apart. And we don’t learn that much when you tear somebody apart.
That’s not something you do when you are trying to expand your understanding. And that’s just too much for some people. I think you might agree with me Michael that Steve plays a very peculiar role in American society. You can think back to all the portrayals of him on Saturday Night Live.
Leahy: (Chuckles) The grim reaper. Those are funny.
Teitelbaum: I think for a lot of liberal America the idea that Trump could have just won this election on his own is too much to handle. And they kind of wanted to have an evil genius.
Leahy: And there you go.
Listen to the full third hour here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Ben Teitelbaum” by The University of Colorado.