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Is Donald Trump Finished?

Donald Trump
President of the United States Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a "Keep America Great" rally at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Donald Trump Show Is Getting Stale – Donald Trump is running for president. The problem is that he is still running in the 2020 election instead of 2024.

The release of the Twitter files showing the platform’s process for suppressing the Hunter Biden laptop story could have been a time for the former president to claim vindication. Trump could have said he had been proven right on Hunter Biden, the deep state, or any number of things.

Instead, Trump is still contesting the 2020 election, demanding either reinstatement or a do-over without any constitutional process for either. And most of the commentary is understandably focused on Trump’s call for “terminating” the Constitution to make these outcomes possible, leading to rebukes from Republicans as well as Democrats.

None of this makes it any easier for Trump to take the oath of office — which includes vowing to defend the Constitution — a second time.

That’s probably why the 2020 talk was missing from Trump’s 2024 announcement speech. But he couldn’t be restrained for long.

This whole episode is a microcosm of the self-imposed challenges of Trump’s third presidential campaign.

Trump’s 2024 argument could be the ultimate “I told you so” on President Joe Biden. But that would require using the arguments and events of 2020 in a forward-looking way. Trump appears capable of only looking backwards.

Fixating on the last election reminds people of the worst things that happened while Trump was in office, as well as the fact that he lost (even if he disputes it). It makes him appear divorced from reality and the rule of law. And it keeps the conversation from being about Biden’s record as president, which is where a Republican who wants to win the next presidential election would like the focus to be.

Trump’s election protests probably cost Republicans the Senate in 2020. His endorsements arguably did the same thing this year. And Republicans are worried he will cost them the White House for the second time in as many elections, with only about a third of the electorate believing his repeated claims to be the rightful winner.

In 2015-16, Trump was new and fresh. His campaign rallies were ratings gold. His jokes and jibes were unconventional but entertaining. That’s how he was able to dominate the Republican primary debates.

Now Trump is just rehashing things he has said a million times before. He appears to have no second act and no new material. Judging from his Mar-a-Lago announcement speech, with its subdued delivery, he is at risk of even boring himself. 

Trump’s greatest skill was commanding attention, with his worst critics having to admit privately that he is entertaining. Now he has gotten stale, which is not what any entertainer wants to have said about them.

That doesn’t mean Trump can’t win. If Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn’t run or ends up falling flat — think former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s turn as the too-early 2016 frontrunner — it’s not clear the rest of the Republican field is up to beating him. That’s especially true if the candidates end up being explicit Never Trumpers.

While Trump would not be favored in the general election, if he proved anything in 2016, it is that in a polarized country any major party nominee has a chance to become president. 

But Trump would be in a much stronger position if he could somehow recapture his 2016 mojo — which does not necessarily mean simply repeating everything he said and did back then.

Trump feels very much like someone who is running because he is not sure what else to do. His business empire is being threatened, he could be indicted, his legacy as a president, businessman and even reality TV star are under assault, he is at risk of being replaced as party leader by a Florida protege.

The third Trump presidential campaign is more about all of those things than it is about becoming the first president to serve nonconsecutive terms since Grover Cleveland.

Ted Kennedy showed in 1980 that running for president just because you think you should isn’t the best way to reach the White House.

The Trump show hasn’t been canceled yet. But the writers have seemingly lost the plot. If they can’t get things back on track, it’s possible that even Republicans will begin to tune it out.

Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive Contributing Editor, James Antle III is the Washington Examiner’s politics editor. He was previously managing editor of the Daily Caller, associate editor of the American Spectator, and Editor of the American Conservative. He is the author of Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped?

Written By

W. James Antle III is the Washington Examiner's politics editor. He was previously managing editor of the Daily Caller, associate editor of the American Spectator, and senior writer for the American Conservative. He is the author of Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped?

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. David Chang

    December 6, 2022 at 6:47 am

    God bless people in the world.

    Because President Trump say that people shall worship God.
    According to the moral truth written in Bible, Ten Commandments, we should worship God only, so no people should worship President Trump or other President.

    Republican Senators and Representatives should obey Ten Commandments so that people who trust God will vote for Republican Party.

    People in the world should obey Ten Commandments, not believe socialism, evolution, liberation theology, modern monetary theory, or other atheism.

    God bless America.

  2. Edward Brownlee

    December 6, 2022 at 7:46 am

    The democrats in power have already trashed the Constitution. The Senate was lost due to unkempt voter roles kept intentionally convenient for vote theft.
    Now is the time to grow the Make America Great Again movement because its obvious how comparatively ungreat we’ve become.
    I’m not digging the throw out all the rules talk but im not digging Bidenized America either and I choose to not blame President Trump.

  3. Rick

    December 6, 2022 at 8:19 am

    There aren’t enough MAGA idiots to elect him dogcatcher. USA is a secular country contrary to the desires of religious zealots.

  4. Liberal Soup N Crackers®

    December 6, 2022 at 9:01 am

    Trump is making himself to be the Huey Long of the early 21st century, a demagogue at heart.

  5. Big Crow

    December 6, 2022 at 9:08 am

    he’ll never be finished, he’s like an urban legend now.

  6. Sue Merry

    December 6, 2022 at 10:22 am

    Mr Trump is a disgrace. He needs to accept he is a Loser and just go away. He shouldn’t be given any air time. Most of the country don’t care about him

  7. Fred Astaire

    December 6, 2022 at 12:44 pm

    Imagine voting in the guy from The Apprentice to be your president! Never mind the fact he’s a hate-mongering racist and Putins puppet.

    Shame on you, America.

  8. Dave Nelson

    December 6, 2022 at 2:43 pm

    Is he finished? We can only hope so but the reality is his clinical narcissism will never allow him to walk away as the loser he is.

    IMO prison time would break him mentally and that would be the end of it all, but absent that he will torment the country, whining to his dying breath about his own failures as if it were everyone else’s fault. His illness does not allow anything else.

  9. phil stacy

    December 6, 2022 at 3:29 pm

    This is America destroying itself by attacking patriots who want a strong America that can defeat China. Traitors are letting America be invaded which makes the high tech national defense weapons you see here a joke. The enemy of the Democrats is domestic opposition so Democrat controlled federal government is focused on fighting American patriots represented by Trump. Information sellers are for sale and America’s enemies are buying.

  10. CRS, DrPH

    December 6, 2022 at 9:33 pm

    President Biden is a much more effective CIC and President. He is leading an effective wartime economy, stabilizing the aftershocks of COVID-19 (the source of inflation), and pushing for new weapons like the B-21 Raider. Trump is a child throwing a tantrum.

  11. Donald J

    December 7, 2022 at 9:12 am

    I feel Donald Trump makes lots of sense and protecting US constitution by campaigning 2020 in 2024, as his majority was stolen by the democrats 🐀.

    Keep the ball rolling, Make American Great Again MAGA MAGA

  12. Rick

    December 7, 2022 at 4:04 pm

    Donald J, were you dropped on your head as a baby? Do you agree with the fat guy who wants to attack our Constitution by eliminating anything he finds detrimental to his fantasy of election being stolen?

  13. Rob

    December 7, 2022 at 5:22 pm

    Never was it written so clearly. Trump’s problem is he is still campaigning for the 2020 election. Trump has made clear he (thinks he) is bigger than consitution and the foundation the US was build on.
    Trump has made clear he will destroy any candidate or even the GOP if he is not elected. In addition, we have seen candidates who share his denial of 2020 lose in the mid terms.
    The independent voter clearly does not like this denial. The voter has repeat his 2020 message in the mid terms. And if it is not heard and accepted, the GOP and Trump will be ignored it in 2024.
    Why choose Trump to lose again?

  14. Anthony St. Hippolyte

    December 8, 2022 at 12:35 pm

    If he is convicted of tax fraud or anything else, he can share a cell with Joe Biden for his probable tax evasion, and bribe taking and influence pedaling as V.P., from China and Ukraine.

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