Tuesday, July 31, 2018


I generally like the work of Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman, but no, this is not going to happen:
What if Trump doesn’t run for re-election, either because he’s impeached, decides he’s had enough, or is so damaged by what Mueller unearths as to be rendered unelectable? Much of the Republican establishment, and even many Trump allies, have been contemplating a Plan B for months. “He could just decide, ‘I’ve made America great again. I’ve kept all my promises. Now I’m gonna play golf,’” said Roger Stone.
No he couldn't. Sherman himself describes "running for president" as Trump "doing what he loves most." Trump absolutely will not "decide he's had enough" -- it's conceivable that a Democratic House will impeach him (by a simple majority vote), but it's extremely unlikely that the Senate will muster the two-thirds vote to convict. I keep saying this, but I'll say it again: No matter what Robert Mueller reveals, Trump's approval rating among Republicans will not decline. He won't be Richard Nixon. Maybe -- maybe -- there'll be second-term fatigue if Trump is reelected. And certainly there ought to be enough anti-Trump feeling among non-Republicans to vote him out. But barring a health emergency, he'll be on the ballot in 2020.

And even if I'm wrong and he isn't on the ballot next time, this is nuts:
If Trump departs, another circus is waiting to come to town. Already, celebrities have been quietly positioning themselves. Mark Cuban has met with strategists, a source told me. And Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has reportedly considered a run. “If Trump doesn’t run for re-election in 2020—which he will—then either Mark Cuban or `The Rock’ will be the G.O.P. nominee, and either one will win,” [former Trump aide Sam] Nunberg said.
No. Absolutely not. Neither Cuban nor Johnson will be the Republican nominee if Trump is gone. The Republican nominee will have to be a charter member of the Trump cult. That's what's working in Republican primaries now, as The New York Times notes:
SARASOTA, Fla. — The Sarasota County Republican fair and rally last Saturday left little mystery about what is animating the party this year.

There was a “Trump Shop” outside the arena, selling T-shirts extolling the president’s dominance. There was a life-size cardboard cutout of Mr. Trump, both thumbs splayed skyward, greeting visitors inside. And there was a candidate for county commission whose brochure highlighted his ardent support for Mr. Trump in dramatically larger type than his vow to protect Sarasota’s “amazing beaches & parks.”

This Trumpian spectacle was an ominous sign for Adam Putnam, whose main appeal in the Republican primary for governor is to support the candidate “who puts Florida first and knows Florida best.”

Only last month, Mr. Putnam — the state’s agriculture commissioner and a genial conservative tabbed for political stardom since he won a state house seat at 22 — was ahead of Representative Ron DeSantis in fund-raising, local endorsements and opinion polls. But then Mr. Trump bestowed his formal blessing on Mr. DeSantis for the Aug. 28 primary.

Now, as Mr. Trump prepares to appear with Mr. DeSantis at a rally in Tampa Tuesday night, Mr. Putnam is facing a double-digit deficit in the polls and odds so long that even some of his admirers suggest he should stop spending money attacking his rival and begin pondering a comeback after the Trump era has passed.
Is there any limit to how much a Republican candidate should slobber over Trump? Apparently not, to judge from DeSantis's campaign:
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) milked his endorsement from President Donald Trump for everything it’s worth in the lead-up to a competitive gubernatorial primary next month, producing a campaign ad gushing with love for the President.

The ad is made up of various shots of DeSantis employing his children to convey his boundless adoration for Trump.

In one, he and his young daughter play with blocks as he tells her to “build a wall.” In another, he reads to his baby son from “Art of the Deal.” He mimes teaching his daughter to read from a Trump lawn sign and tucks his son into his crib, swaddled in a MAGA onesie with a Trump flag draped across the railing.

The familial scenes are overlaid with phrases like “Pitbull Trump defender.”

I'll say it again: Even if Trump is somehow removed from office before 2020, Trumpism won't die. If he's taken down, he'll be a martyr, and the next Republican presidential nominee will need to revere his memory and profess the True Trump Faith.

It could be Mike Pence or Tom Cotton or Mark Meadows. If it's a celebrity, it'll be a Fox News celebrity -- James Woods or Judge Jeanine would outpoll Mark Cuban or The Rock.

The faithful might leave the faith eventually -- but not between now and the next election.

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