When you run your own media company it’s pretty easy to lionize yourself, if that’s your wont. And judging by the articles appearing on Breitbart.com recently, that sort of thing is exactly Steve Bannon’s wont. Frankly, for my taste it’s a little much. But if today’s DWP from Dangerous Idea is any indication, perhaps Bannon is actually selling himself short.

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Marco carried the ink-drawn portrait of himself in his suit pants pocket, folded in half. The portrait had not been commissioned. Nor had it been expected, although it should have been. Cynthia, big frizzly hair, arms always waving to emphasize whatever point she was making, clothing meant for women in the mid-thirties draped around her mid-fifties body, had created it. She had created portraits for all her coworkers at one point or another. None of them looked at all like their subjects.

He could feel the portrait crinkle and rub as he moved from one end of the parlor to the other, stopping to look at each of the seven poster board collages that had been assembled of photographs and sketches and local newspaper notices of the pieces she had submitted to art fairs held in the common rooms of shopping malls and the gymnasiums of elementary schools.

Before the viewing Marco had never paid much attention to Cynthia’s art, although he had had ample opportunity. Marco had always, with perhaps less charity than was warranted, thought of her as being a bit like a feline; always rushing, always scattered as though chasing invisible mice; willing to make a bit of noise if she wasn’t getting the attention she wanted; in the habit of a bit nosing around whenever and wherever. Worst of all she had a tendency to foist her art upon people the way a barn cat might drop a dead bird in your lap and expect you to be impressed by its mighty skills.

But amid the surprising number of friends and loved ones she had accumulated during her life, Marco took the time to study her work. At first it was an awkward effort to avoid having to enter into difficult small talk. But slowly he began to study the awkward, quirky way her lines wobbled when anyone else would have drawn clean arcs for just the pleasure of it. He noticed how Cynthia rounded edges that in real life would have been sharp and extended strokes long past the point where they naturally would have stopped. Even something as simple as a straight, thin slash to signify closed lips was tweaked, given extra shading on one half, giving a clownish tilt to the most dour of expressions. Like the craftsmanship displayed in his portrait, none of it was right but all of it worked together.

Something small shifted in Marco. His conception of Cynthia as a feline blurred and came back into focus as a puppy dog: over-enthusiastic about everything; eager to please; unconditional in her affection for everyone around her and more than happy to make extravagant shows of remorse when her incessant joie de vivre led her to make the simple, obvious errors that gave shape to her artistry.

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