Sunday, March 11, 2018


The best headline about the Trump campaign appearance last night is from Politico: "At Pennsylvania Rally, Trump Endorses Himself."
President Donald Trump got business out of the way quickly Saturday night – urging voters to elect Republican congressional candidate Rick Saccone, who’s locked in an unexpectedly tough special election battle in Pennsylvania – before turning to the main subject of the night: himself.

... Trump made fun of Washington and congratulated himself for maintaining his iconoclastic style in office....

Trump touted his tax reform plan, his new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and his newly announced plan to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, while slamming the news media – including calling NBC host Chuck Todd a “son of a bitch.” The president also talked about his desire to impose capital punishment on drug dealers....

He also talked about the size of the crowd ... and recounted how Pennsylvania sealed his 2016 victory. He also unveiled his own new slogan for the 2020 campaign: “Keep America Great!”

“Is there anything more fun than a Trump rally?” he asked at one point.
If Saccone wins, even narrowly (in a district that was overwhelmingly pro-Trump in 2016), he'll take all the credit. If Saccone loses, Trump will be unfazed, and will continue with these exercises in narcissism disguised as rallies for candidates he's endorsing -- note that the failure of his ego-trip rallies meant to help Luther Strange in the Alabama Senate primary and Roy Moore in the general election didn't dissuade him from doing this again for Saccone1. Maybe a blowout win by the Democrats in the midterms will persuade him that this doesn't work. For now, though, he won't stop. This is now his greatest pleasure in life.

This is what he'd be doing if he'd lost the presidency. I know what we're supposed to think he'd be doing, because it's in Michael Wolff's book:
As the campaign came to an end, Trump himself was sanguine. His ultimate goal, after all, had never been to win. “I can be the most famous man in the world,” he had told his aide Sam Nunberg at the outset of the race. His longtime friend Roger Ailes, the former head of Fox News, liked to say that if you want a career in television, first run for president. Now Trump, encouraged by Ailes, was floating rumors about a Trump network. It was a great future. He would come out of this campaign, Trump assured Ailes, with a far more powerful brand and untold opportunities.

“This is bigger than I ever dreamed of,” he told Ailes a week before the election. “I don’t think about losing, because it isn’t losing. We’ve totally won.”
I think that would have been his plan. But if Clinton had won by a close margin, he would have held even more campaign rallies, in this case to claim he'd been cheated. He wouldn't have been able to give up on all the love and adulation -- he'd have gone through withdrawal without it. Maybe he wouldn't seriously contest the election. Maybe he'd just regard the post-election rallies as good publicity for the forthcoming Trump TV ir his othe business ventures. But rallies would absolutely take place.

The GOP/right-wing media complex would have gone into a stance of maximum resistance to Clinton -- or maybe just short of maximum. (Would Republicans in Congress have refused to certify her election? I think they'd have stopped just short of that.) She'd be the subject of multiple investigations and a lot of impeachment talk. Republicans might not want Trump as a figurehead, but he'd simply designate himself as the key player in this effort, and the media would lavish attention on his efforts.

He'd hold rally after rally. Hillary-hating Republicans would join him. Even non-Fox news organizations would be obsessed with Clinton's alleged misdeeds, while ignoring most other news. The Trump rallies would play unedited on cable. They'd ensure that Trump remained the most popular politician in America among Republican voters.

And since there'd never be a good reason to impeach Clinton, or 67 votes to convict her in the Senate, and since incumbents are routinely renominated even when they're struggling in the polls, it's likely that the 2020 election would have been a contest between the incumbent and the Republican base's favorite candidate, a man so fond if campaigning he'd be in the process of doing it nonstop for more than five years.

We could have had an electoral rerun in 2020. And given the likelihood that Clinton would have had four years of bad press, while Trump would have been, in an awful way, a media darling, I think he could have won outright the second time.

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