From the moment he made his way onto the political stage, Donald Trump defied expectations.
He won the White House despite having no government or military experience, a first in the nation’s history. As candidate and then as president, Trump drew supporters ever closer with his brash, impulsive, and decidedly non-presidential demeanor—not despite it.
When he was denied a second term, Trump did not retire from politics like his predecessors. And now he’s broken the ground again – breaking things is a unique skill – as he faces the very real prospect of being the first ex-president to ever be criminally indicted.
For these reasons, it is foolish to predict the implications of Trump’s legal tangle with the Manhattan Attorney’s Office, the first of many possible prosecutions Trump faces. He’s staying for now the favourite for the Republican presidential nomination and, if so anointed, at least stands a decent chance Retaking the White House in 2024.
However, there are strong arguments that things have changed – that Trump’s ability to defy political physics may have ended and his unsealed days are behind him.
In 2016, a Trump presidency was fictional. He was perceived as an outsider, which many found compelling – a fist raised against Washington and a loud, uncouth voice speaking for the angry and offended who felt the ruling class had ignored and ignored them for too long. Some reveled in his bombast and the way Trump blithely bullied political norms.
Others felt he was better than the alternative, the worn-out Hillary Clinton, or made their peace by assuming that once in office Trump would switch — executing a much-anticipated but ultimately illusory “pivot” — and a more conventional presidency.
Now voters know better.
After all the toxic tweets, the incessant lies, bigotry, narcissism and nepotism, the wayward mismanagement of a deadly pandemic, after two impeachments and, most egregiously, the attempted coup he has lobbied at the service of a lie he continues to promote there is no doubt about the nature of Trump.
Or what his return to the White House would mean.
Chaos envelops Trump like a bomb storm. Controversy follows him like the breath of a cesspool. He warned of “potential death and destruction” if criminally charged, showing once again his ruthlessness and titanic ego. The prospect of impeachment is a dramatic reminder, if necessary, of the former president’s fundamental mendacity and moral bankruptcy.
Polls show most Americans are sick and tired of Trump, his debris and his downfall.
Not Fifth Avenue Republicans, who make up about a third of GOP voters, enough to bolster Trump in the primary and make him the candidate to beat for the party’s nomination. (Trump’s famous statement that he could stand in the middle of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue and shoot someone without losing support now seems less a boast than a fact.)
These die-hards are the ones trying to placate pandering Republicans like House Speaker Kevin McCarthy with their claims about Trump’s political persecution and victimhood. Lawmakers representing areas like McCarthy’s deep red Bakersfield neighborhood need only consider this small constituency.
But it’s hard to imagine Trump gaining support beyond his base if he were indicted in a sordid case involving hush money and extramarital sex, regardless of the outcome of the trial.
And the idea that Trump’s impeachment would bring him closer to the White House by firing supporters seems equally far-fetched; it’s not like the blind believers can cast three or four extra votes for their flimsy messiah. (Despite the lies they may have swallowed about the venality of our electoral system.)
Trump’s repulsive effect on swing voters and non-MAGA Republicans – particularly women living in the country’s wealthy suburbs – is well documented. It cost Republicans in 2018 when they lost control of the House of Representatives; 2020 when Joe Biden won the presidency; and in 2022, when the GOP failed to win a Senate majority despite tremendous advantages and narrowly recaptured the House of Representatives.
Christine Matthews, a Republican pollster and no fan of the ex-president, has conducted extensive research among GOP primary voters in recent months, including some who supported Trump in 2016 and 2020.
“They’re just sick of the circus,” Matthews said.
You might think that the many criminal investigations against Trump are “unfair to him,” she continued. “Maybe they think it’s politically motivated. But the fact is, the circus goes on.”
Perhaps most importantly, something else has changed since Trump first carved his way into the White House and into the hearts of Republicans: He’s now a proven repeat loser.
“They want to win and they want to beat Biden,” Matthews said of many of those she interviewed. “They don’t think Trump can do it.”
With all the irritation and political machinations, it’s easy to forget the essence of the case against the former CEO.
In 2006, Trump reportedly had an extramarital affair with adult actor Stormy Daniels. Ten years later, his presidential bid was on the brink of collapse after a tape of Trump bragging about sexually abusing women was released.
His then-attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, took out a home equity loan and paid Daniels $130,000 to keep his mouth shut. Arriving at the White House, Trump signed checks to reimburse Cohen. The payments were listed as “legal expenses”.
Given the shaky foundation on which the New York case rests, holding Trump legally accountable could be difficult.
But the court of public opinion is different, and the case against Trump is open and closed. The chair he used as President and brought with him to Mar-a-Lago was supposed to be the closest thing to the Oval Office.
Your best bet is to lock him up in his resort grounds and throw the key into the Atlantic Ocean.
Source : www.latimes.com