The right’s anti-Trump argument goes like this. Donald Trump lost the House, the presidency, and the Senate in that order. This observer was not optimistic Trump cost the GOP two Senate seats in the 2021 Georgia runoff. But, given the poor showing of Trump-endorsed Senate candidates in the 2022 midterm elections, it is hard to argue Trump did not lose the Senate. We will quibble with one point, though. Trump saved the Republican Senate majority in 2018, campaigning doggedly for vulnerable Senate incumbents like Texas’ Ted Cruz, turning out tens of thousands of MAGA hats at rally after rally and netting the GOP two senate seats.
Back then, Trump could do that.
But, given the great Republican disappointment of 2022, Trump clearly is not the force he was in 2016 or even 2018.
During the 2016 campaign and the 2018 midterms, Trump rallies were exciting events for the MAGA faithful. Attendees cheered and chanted, almost as if they were at a rock concert or religious revival. But, Trump’s November announcement that he was running for president seemed restrained and somnolent, at least for Trump. Watching Trump’s speech, one was reminded of a 40-year-old rock band long past its prime, performing their half-dozen hits for an audience increasingly becoming more selective.
New York Sports and Trump
Observers may get a clearer view of events with the passage of just a little time when one isn’t caught up in day-to-day political fighting. Nearly two years after he left office, Trump’s flaws are more obvious.
Trump had enormous trouble keeping people of talent in his administration. Others have pointed out that Trump’s management style resembles another famous and controversial New York personality, New York Yankees owner George M. Steinbrenner.
During the 70’s and 80’s, Mr. Steinbrenner was notorious for hiring and quickly firing managers – 18 in all between 1973 and 1990. Mr. Steinbrenner was prone to public outbursts as well. In office, Trump was undisciplined and remains so today. His recent dinner with Kanye West and latest remarks about Jews are merely the latest in a long series of self-inflicted wounds. This observer cannot be the only two-time Trump voter sick of defending him.
“Let’s be honest”, as another New York sports personality is fond of saying. Trump’s 2016 victory was stunning but not all that impressive. He ran in circumstances that favored a challenger. The economy was okay but not great. The nation faced a bourgeoning border crisis and fentanyl epidemic. Al-Qaida and ISIS ran large swaths of Iraq and Syria. The war in Afghanistan went on and on. The Obama Administration’s Libya adventure was a disaster. Most importantly, Hillary Clinton was a lackluster and tired candidate who missed her best opportunity to win the presidency in 2008. She was the Democrat’s version of Bob Dole. Besides, it is difficult for a party to win three presidential terms in a row. Just ask Richard Nixon and Al Gore. Trump will never have better circumstances than he had in 2016.
After the 2020 debacle, fans of Trump (including this fan) wanted to see a leaner, meaner candidate in preparation for a 2024 run. This meant sound, smart advisers and message discipline.
Trump should have spent the last two years talking about his record. That includes a great economy, victory over ISIS and al-Qaida, the Abraham Accords, and Operation Warp Speed. Trump should never have slammed former subordinates. His attacks on Vice President Mike Pence, the administration’s loyal straight man, are unconscionable. Trump should have gotten leaner, literally. Nothing would signal a new and improved Trump better than laying off the McDonalds and Diet Coke and losing 25 pounds.
After Georgia Governor Brian Kemp refused to go along with Trump’s election fraud allegations in 2020, this observer was eager to see Trump foment a revolt against him. But foreshadowing the November election, Trump was already picking bad candidates, in this case, the recently defeated former senator David Perdue. Kemp destroyed Perdue 73-21 in the primary and went on to defeat space president Stacey Abrams 53-45 in the general election. In winning a second term, Kemp defeated Abrams and Trump.
Donald Trump: What happened to Winning?
“We’re going to win so much, you may even get tired of winning,” Trump promised his supporters in 2016. But Trump’s record the last two years is that of a loser. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (for whom this observer twice voted) slammed Trump after the midterms. “We keep losing and losing and losing. And the fact of the matter is the reason we’re losing is because Donald Trump has put himself before everyone else.”
He’s right. Christie knows a thing or two about winning tough races in blue states, having won two in New Jersey. Trump is a diminished force and fading fast. With each new gaff Trump fades more.
Trump is past his prime; that’s all there is to it. Meanwhile, tough, sharp, seasoned, and winning candidates await the GOP presidential primary. These include Florida governor Ron DeSantis who has turned his state into a Republican stronghold, and of course, Brian Kemp.