Trump’s Back — Again
Terry H. Schwadron
Nov. 16, 2022
At any other time with any other candidate, Donald Trump’s announcement of a third bid to the U.S. presidency would be seen as wrongheaded.
Indeed, the announcement was downright offensive for someone who tried to overthrow his own government by claiming it was righteous patriotism at work.
It’s a week since he led his Republican Party to defeats nationwide by insisting on loyalty to his singular, hollow bleats about election fraud. Voting majorities in multiple states and even other Republican leaders are saying his time has come and gone.
Federal and state prosecutors are looking to indict him on multiple violations of law, including holding onto classified documents with information important to national security. Meanwhile, Trump’s lawyers came up with yet another lawsuit, based on previously rejected claims of executive privilege, that look to delay any subpoena for the Jan. 6 committee until that group’s charter runs out.
This week, former Vice President Mike Pence looked into the camera, took a deep breath, and said Trump had put him and his family in danger of their lives during the Jan. 6 attempt to grab hold of the government by overturning election results. Former Chief of Staff John Kelley told The New York Times that Trump had ordered IRS audits as a punitive tools against political enemies, including former FBI Director James Comey and Andrew McCabe, his deputy. It was an outrageous abuse of power even in a presidency that made mincemeat of presidential ethics, Kelley asserted.
On Monday, the watchdog organization Campaign Legal Center (CLC), filed suit over Trump’s alleged transfer of $20 million last month from his Save America PAC to Make America Great Again, Inc., to make it easier to use untracked money. Just yesterday, the Trump family signed a deal to be part of a $1.6 billion golf resort in Oman, once again mixing personal business and American foreign affairs.
Accountability is for Trump’s foes, not for him — even if they involve illegal plots for the overthrow of the government position he still craves.
Trump has gone ahead, reportedly even shunting aside the counsel of his inner circle about the specific timing of his inevitable political insistence on being president. Of course, he couldn’t announce a campaign for king, but we all know he would have done if it were possible. At least, he must believe it will help in his variously needed legal defenses, to say nothing of future business deals.
Even with warnings about prospects of a poor Georgia runoff vote against his selected Senate candidate, Trump is putting his ego on the line. At the same time, his loyal legions are counting on a variety of legislative legerdemain in tinkering with district lines, Electoral College strategies, voter and ballot challenges and seemingly endless political money to win in a country that seemed just last week to rise in rejection of Trump the election pest.
The Trump Announcement
The Trump message was obvious, if delivered in a relatively Trump-subdued manner: The world is going to hell, and only bringing back Donald Trump can fix it. In Trump’s dark depiction, Biden and radical Democrats are ruining pretty much everything that makes for an American Dream that matters in Trump World. Only Trump can bring the sunshine back apparently.
The remarks around his actual formal announcement of candidacy were a mix of made-up facts, hyperbole and upside-down interpretations that confused night with day. He and his endorsed MAGA slate won the elections in his mind, he was a unifier across party lines in his own assessment, he would have stopped even the possibility of Russia thinking of invading Ukraine and apparently never would have left Afghanistan — all the complete opposite of reality outside of Trump’s head.
The announcement itself at opulent Mar-a-Lago was vintage Trump without the golden staircase — with drama before, during and after over everything from timing to tone.
To accept that Trump has effective governmental solutions for much beyond his self-promotion at this moment feels like delusion. Calling China names, making supporting comments about Vladimir Putin while Russian troops are in Ukraine, denying that climate change is real, pushing for total de-regulation and restarting wall construction don’t seem a comprehensive approach to where we find ourselves. Demeaning anyone who doesn’t fall under his personal spell and then denying that he is spreading hate speech just doesn’t scan. Insisting on law and order but ducking his own legal accountability is a joke.
Clearly, Trump was insistent on moving ahead despite pleas and protests from Republican would-be advisers who see these fresh election results as a continuation of Trump underperformance at the polls.
The need for Trump to bay at potential Republican rivals like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis even before his announcement has been seen widely as a certain kind of political desperation for attention. Clearly, Trump finds himself during an uncomfortable Republican internecine struggle over directions, platforms and, most of all, over acceptance that his word is the only one that matters.
Much has been made of the politics involved: Trump continues to want to throw all non-loyal Republicans over the side to insist on himself in a dictatorial role within the party. But the only issue he seems to care about is his own political well-being, and his world view is an expression of Trump First, therefore America First.
In the end, the personality cult we know as MAGA is more about the symbol of a slashing heroic figure who will challenge “elites” who depend on “facts” than it is about curing whatever ails the country. To them, losing democracy to an autocrat they adore is worth the price of admission.
From the Bleachers
Assessing both Trump’s realistic chances and his need for popular adulation has become a cottage industry. The number of books written on the premise that Trump’s ethical and politically abusive philandering are enormous at this point, and the Trump self-directed messaging seems not only old, but boring.
No matter what Joe Biden does as president, almost every mention is in comparison to Trump, who remains in the headlines daily, either for outlandish statements short of supporting fact or for yet another legal tactic to avoid answering for his deeds during and after the presidency.
And yet, as we look at election results that represent nearly total rejection of the vast majority of Trump election-denial candidates, there is a core of at least a third of the country that still wants this man as leader — character and record notwithstanding.
“It’s tempting to see the strength of the MAGA forces ebbing at last, the calendar leaf turning over on the Trump era. But how do you declare defeat for a movement that is built around refusing to accept defeat?,” asked a New York Times essayist this week. “Belief in Donald Trump means never having to face the facts.”
The anger that Trump has engendered towards demanding a White, Christian America with hate and even violence aimed at immigrants, people of color, Jews and Muslims and gays and transgender people has not dissipated. What was rejected last week by a majority was making outward election system protestations over anything resembling governing and using the very systems that are meant to guarantee personal rights as a weapon to destroy them.
It may well be that Trump needs a return to the White House as an ultimate legal defense and a necessary scratch to his egotistical itch. But it seems our duty as majority voters is to tell him that we have no need of him or those who prostrate themselves totally in his service and promotion.