Know your audience and your subject is basic advice for any public speaker. Violating that rule led to an embarrassing gaffe for Steve Bannon as he stumped for Roy Moore in Midland City, Ala yesterday. During his speech, Bannon decided to riff on Trump critic, Joe Scarborough, with embarrassing results. A tweet by Jonathan Allen of NBC News tells what happened next.
In Midland City, Alabama, Steve Bannon goes after @JoeNBC, saying he got into better schools than Joe could have—Georgetown and Harvard. This might be the wrong place for that attack: Joe went to the University of Alabama.
Before attacking Scarborough, Bannon should have doublechecked where the MSNBC host went to school. What are the odds that a talk show host that Bannon decided to vilify in Alabama was a graduate of the University of Alabama? In the case of Joe Scarborough, the odds were 100 percent to Bannon’s dismay.
Scarborough quickly responded with a series of tweets, beginning with a simple school slogan.
ROLL. DAMN. TIDE.
A second tweet mocked Bannon’s brag about attending Georgetown and Harvard. Ivy League schools are not well respected by Southern voters. The resentment of carpetbagging Yankees is deeply ingrained in Alabama as well as many other parts of the South. Attending Harvard won’t necessarily hurt your reputation, but bragging about it certainly will.
Hey Bannon, you only went to Harvard because you couldn’t get into Alabama.
Scarborough delivered a body blow by paying homage to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s classic Southern anthem, “Sweet Home Alabama.” The song was written in 1974 as a response to Neil Young’s “Southern Man” and includes a line that describes just how much importance Southerners attach to Yankee opinions about their culture. While Bannon, a native Virginian, isn’t technically a Yankee by birth, he is closely associated with New York these days.
A Southern Man don’t need him around anyhow.
In a final tweet, Scarborough drove home the point that Bannon, the pseudopopulist, is in reality a New York banker who worked for Goldman Sachs. The investment banking firm has long been a bogeyman for many on the right. While many politicians, from Ted Cruz to Hillary Clinton, were criticized for ties to Goldman Sachs, Donald Trump and Steve Bannon’s ties to the company have received little attention. Scarborough’s use of the colloquialism, “reckon,” just twists the knife.
I reckon if I’d gotten into one of Steve’s fancy schools outside of Alabama, I could’ve been one of them Goldman Sachs populists too.
While Steve Bannon’s case of foot-in-mouth disease won’t make or break Roy Moore, it is characteristic of the unforced errors and poor vetting that plague Bannon-backed candidates. Roy Moore’s background was replete with red flags that he would be a poor candidate in the general election. In Arizona, Bannon supports Kelli Ward, a state legislator widely mocked for her association with conspiracy theories. Paul Nehlen, another Bannon protégé who lost in a landslide to Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), was recently seen on Twitter telling John Podhoretz to “eat a bullet.” Stay classy, Nehlen.
Bannon’s Alabama gaffe is just one more example of poor research and planning by the Breitbart publisher and former White House strategist. Bannon’s picks, while often popular in GOP circles, are often poison at the ballot box in general elections. If Republicans follow Bannon, the party is likely to find itself on the way to electoral oblivion.
Originally published on The Resurgent