Prior to last weekend, I had not watched any of Donald Trump’s rallies since he left office, mainly because they were all pretty much the same. Also, it was too painful to listen to him lash out at people who were not worthy of his acknowledgement. That said, I decided to tune into his rally last weekend in Waco because of how things have been heating up lately — e.g., the Trump versus DeSantis rivalry, the phony Alvin Bragg prosecution, and Republican infighting over the war in Ukraine.
I am unequivocal when I say that what Donald Trump accomplished in four years as president is worthy of a place on Mount Rushmore. I am also convinced, based on what I saw and heard with my own eyes and ears, that Trump not only won the 2020 election, but won in a landslide. (I think Tucker sums it up best when he repeatedly serves up his classic laugh at the idea that a feeble old man who hid in his basement throughout the presidential campaign got 15 million more votes than Barack Obama.)
However, some of the things Trump has done since leaving office have had me concerned, particularly his obsession with getting into verbal brawls with lightweights. Sadly, he apparently believes it’s his job to be a fly swatter, a task that uses up valuable time and energy that could be used on more important pursuits.
Which brings me back to the Waco rally last Saturday. I was pleasantly surprised and totally impressed with the majority of what Trump had to say. Not only was his content fresh and clear, his delivery was powerful. He often went off prompter, and that’s when he was at his best. Perhaps the most important thing Trump said was that when he first came to Washington, he was new to politics and listened to too many people whom he now realizes he should have ignored.
Aside from the fact that he admitted he made a mistake, which was refreshing to say the least, his statement got to the heart of one of my biggest concerns about Donald Trump, his bad judgment when it comes to picking people. Granted, he also made some great choices while in office, with Stephen Miller, Mark Meadows, Sarah Huckabee, and Kayleigh McEnany being at the top of that list. But Rex Tillerson? General John Kelly? Omarosa? Anthony Scaramucci? An addiction to sycophantism can be very costly, indeed.
Trump’s Waco performance convinced me that if he were to win back the White House, he would make a serious attempt to deliver on his most important promises, including, among other things, implementation of the biggest mass-deportation program in history, building the border wall, cracking down on crime, and, above all, dismantling the deep state. But in order to be in a position to carry out his promises, he first has to get elected, and to achieve that he is going to have to overcome some blemishes that don’t play well in Peoria.
The most glaring of those blemishes is his obsession with what he perceives to be Ron DeSantis’ disloyalty. In Donald Trump’s world, disloyalty is an automatic death sentence. There are no exceptions, and Trump does not back down once you’re in his crosshairs. His supporters love him for it, but his detractors (especially if they are DeSantis supporters) react viscerally.
As to Ron DeSantis, I believe he would make a great president, but I also believe he’s made a couple of major mistakes. First, and most important, he would have been smart to repeatedly and unequivocally express his gratitude to Trump for his invaluable endorsement. Looking gracious would have cost him nothing and probably would have made him even more popular.
Second, if DeSantis really is planning to announce a run for the White House, he must be getting bad advice from his closest advisors, because Trump might very well have chosen him as his running mate. And had that happened, it would have all but guaranteed him the Republican nomination for president in 2028. Worst case, if he stayed in his job as governor and continued to make Florida the envy of the nation, he would have been the overwhelming favorite to capture the Republican nomination in 2028 on his own.
Now, however, DeSantis has created a huge dilemma for himself and the Republican Party. If he doesn’t counterpunch Trump, he looks weak. If he does start punching back, Trump will unleash the same fury on him that destroyed once powerful candidates like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz. Does DeSantis really believe he can survive such an onslaught?
If I were advising DeSantis, I would tell him to find a face-saving way of explaining why he’s not running for president in 2024 (e.g., “I still have a lot of work to do in Florida, and I want to complete the job of making it the freest, most prosperous state in America.”). Then, make it clear that he totally supports Donald Trump’s bid for the Republican nomination.
This is a war only Democrats can win. If Trump gets the GOP nomination, some unknown number of DeSantis supporters might sit out the general election or, worse, vote for the Democrat nominee. On the other hand, if DeSantis somehow manages to overtake Trump and win the Republican nomination, rest assured that a large percentage of MAGA people will refuse to vote for him. It’s doubtful that either man could win the general election without the support of most of the other candidate’s flock.
Bottom line: It’s looking ugly, and Democrats are starting to salivate. Someone with brains and clout (Elon Musk?) needs to intervene before it’s too late. The survival of a faltering nation is at stake.