Friday, June 30, 2017


I think Donald Trump will stay in office for the duration of his term -- he won't quit because he's obsessed with avoiding the appearance of weakness, and Senate Republicans wouldn't vote to convict if a post-2018 Democratic House managed to impeach him. I think Trump will run for reelection, and I think he could win.

So I pondered this suggestion from The Hill's Brent Bukowsky -- but I think it's a lousy idea:
Scarborough should run against Trump in 2020

Former Republican congressman and current MSNBC host Joe Scarborough ... should enter the GOP primaries and run against Trump in the 2020 presidential campaigns....

Scarborough is a serious man. He served in the House of Representatives as a Republican and conservative and has a body of knowledge and experience that far surpasses any understanding of policy and issues that Trump will ever possess...

If Scarborough were to run for president, he could run against Trump as a Reagan Republican who does not praise dictators from Russia to the Philippines. He could run against Trump and promise he would not humiliate his secretary of State by proposing to cut the budget for the State Department by 30 percent, as Trump has done, or permitting a laughably inexperienced son-in-law to act like a shadow secretary of State, as Trump does every day....

Scarborough would be a strong and serious candidate.
The 2020 race should be a referendum on the job performance of Trump and his party -- but if Scarborough runs, the story of the first part of the campaign will be Trump Versus the Highfalutin East Coast Establishment, with Scarborough standing for all the Acela Corridor elitists the Trump coalition hates.

And I don't just mean white working-class deplorables -- financially comfortable Middle American suburbanites have also accepted the notion that there's a Deep State trying to oust Trump out of no motivation other than pure malice.

Trump won't have made the country better, so he's likely to have some trouble motivating voters in 2020 -- but a primary challenge from Scarborough, who can be portrayed as the blow-dried epitome of everything Trump voters hate, will get the juices flowing. Trump will be energized by the contest. Beating Scarborough will be like beating Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio -- a large percentage of GOP voters will think Trump deserves a second term precisely because he beat Scarborough.

And Trump would win. Oh, sure, Scarborough might do fairly well in New Hampshire, where right-centrists always have a chance. But in the South, West, and Midwest? Forget it. Trump is still seen as the blue-collar guy, the honorary redneck. Scarborough won't have a chance.

But couldn't a scare from Scarborough in a few states embarrass Trump? Yes, Eugene McCarthy's strong second-place showing in the 1968 New Hampshire Democratic primary was followed a couple of weeks later by Lyndon Johnson's withdrawal from the race. But Trump isn't going to retreat if he almost loses a key primary. Even if Scarborough overperforms, Trump will still win the nomination in the end, because there are more GOP voters who are motivated by anger than by respectability -- and winning is all that matters, to him and to his base. (See: November 2016 election results.)

A Scarborough challenge would also reduce the Democratic primary contest to second-tier status -- as in 2012, the media would regard the GOP contest as the one with all the glamour and excitement.

If Scarborough runs against Trump, the contest will be about the vendetta, not about issues. Please note that right now we're talking about Trump's Brzezinski/Scarborough tweets more than we're talking about the possible revival of the McConnellcare bill, or the Mike Pence/Kris Kobach vote suppression commission, or a likely Trump trade war, or the ongoing immigration crackdown. Expect the political conversation to be like that if there's a Scarborough-Trump primary contest.

Joe, you probably weren't planning to do this, but really, don't. Nothing good is likely to come from it.

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