Tabloid conservatism is the felicitous phrase that Sam Tanenhaus, one of our most astute analysts of the modern right, gave to the approach that Donald Trump, who faces various possible indictments, and Steve Bannon, who has just been sentenced to four months in prison and a measly $6,500 fine for failing to testify before Congress’s January 6 Committee, concocted as an alternative to the stuffy establishment mode that had prevailed in the GOP.

A self-proclaimed populist, Bannon turned the website Breitbart.com into a juggernaut on the right and propelled the Trump campaign to victory. Absent his...

Tabloid conservatism is the felicitous phrase that Sam Tanenhaus, one of our most astute analysts of the modern right, gave to the approach that Donald Trump, who faces various possible indictments, and Steve Bannon, who has just been sentenced to four months in prison and a measly $6,500 fine for failing to testify before Congress’s January 6 Committee, concocted as an alternative to the stuffy establishment mode that had prevailed in the GOP.

A self-proclaimed populist, Bannon turned the website Breitbart.com into a juggernaut on the right and propelled the Trump campaign to victory. Absent his hard-edged approach, which included bringing various former Bill Clinton inamoratas to a debate with Hillary, it seems doubtful that Trump would have won in 2016. Once in office, he tapped Bannon as an advisor, but the bromance ended quickly enough. Bannon, after some imprudent remarks to the editor of the American Prospect, Robert Kuttner, was ousted, much to the joy of Jared and Ivanka who viewed him as a rude and uncouth interloper in the Trump White House.

Now, Bannon, like Trump, is back where he wants to be: in the limelight. He declared in the courtroom that Democrats would confront their “judgment day” during the midterms, conflating his own destiny with that of the GOP itself. He wore what the New York Times described as a “military-style jacket,” underscoring that he sees himself as a freedom fighter on the frontlines of the battle against liberal tyranny.

His opponents were having none of it. Prosecutors accused him of pursuing a “bad-faith strategy of defiance and contempt” after he received his subpoena to testify. Judge Nichols, a Trump appointee, declared, “Others must be deterred from committing similar crimes.” If Republicans win the House, as seems likely, the shoe will be on the other foot, as Democrats try to avoid testifying.

For Bannon, though, the sentencing may be the best thing to happen to him. If you’re inclined to the liberal side, you may see it as tantamount to Hitler being sentenced after the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923 to prison in Landsberg, Bavaria, where he was surrounded by his cronies, received delicacies each day from his admirers, and, with Rudolf Hess as his amanuensis, wrote Mein Kampf. Conservatives, by contrast, will trumpet it as Bannon’s struggle — an integral part of the deep state conspiracy to bring down an old fighter for the Trump cause, a former Navy vet brought low by Biden and Co.

For Trump, the Bannon verdict will also surely present another opportunity to bluster about why Hunter Biden is getting away scot-free and to fundraise on his former adviser’s plight. How effective Trump will be is another matter. His efforts to line his pockets appear to be faltering even as his own legal difficulties mount. On every front, Trump appears to be besieged, whether it’s the Mar-a-Lago documents case or E. Jean Carroll’s defamation suit. Adding insult to injury is that his old pal Vladimir Putin has embarked upon his own personal and failed crusade in Ukraine. So much for the genius leader that Trump seemed to detect in the Russian tyrant.

Will Trump’s native grandiosity now prompt him to do what Bannon did not? Will he accept its invitation to testify and explain why the crowd on January 6 consisted of peaceful protesters who assembled to plead his more than justified case for another term in office? Any stunt is possible. It would be no small irony if Trump showed up while Bannon watched the proceedings from a jail cell.