Wednesday, April 22, 2020


Earlier this week, New York magazine's Ed Kilgore wrote:
We’ve all pretty much assumed without thinking about it that November 2020 will mark the last presidential Election Day in which Donald J. Trump appears on the ballot. I mean, yes, some progressives have occasionally expressed fears that the 45th president will try to engineer some extra-constitutional coup that will keep him in office perpetually, but by definition that would preclude another Trump election campaign. If he loses, surely his act will have worn out its welcome, even among Republicans. And for true-blue MAGA folk, Mike Pence has been loyally, even sycophantically waiting in the wings, ready to inherit the movement, as his almighty predecessor retreats to Mar-a-Lago for a well-earned retirement.
On that last point, I've never accepted the notion that Pence will inherit the movement. When the MAGA crowd is looking for a Trump successor, it will almost certainly turn to someone who devotes as much time to trying to own the libs as Trump does, because lib-owning is the #1 thing Republicans want from government. The first nominee to succeed the president probably won't be a simpering flunky -- it will be a full-time lib-owner like Donald Trump Jr., Matt Gaetz, Tom Cotton, or Doug Collins.

Go on, Ed.
But the coronavirus has created at least the possibility of a different scenario. Suppose either the pandemic has not subsided before this fall, or the economy is still in shambles, with little sign of immediate revival. Trump would almost certainly lose — and then blame his defeat on a Chinese virus that was not his fault and that even he could not defeat (particularly with all the resistance he encountered from Radical Democrats and globalist elites). From his standpoint as the center of the universe, he would naturally feel aggrieved at having been robbed of a reelection all-but-guaranteed for him by the most awesome economic boom in the history of the world. And he would need the vindication of proving once again that he can bring back American greatness through the stable genius of his unique leadership. How long would he wait to launch another presidential campaign? Probably not much more than a week.

Yes, in July of 2024 Trump would turn 78, but that’s how old Bernie Sanders is right now. Particularly if Biden runs for a second term at 81, Trump’s age would not be a bar, though he might have to lay off the junk food for a while. Would Republicans reject him for a younger, fresher, undefeated candidate? I don’t know, but the odds against a third Trump GOP nomination would probably be lower than the odds he beat in 2016.
Well, sure -- but I was entertaining the possibility of a 2024 Trump run long before COVID-19. For example, I wrote this last September: "In fact, I think if [Trump] loses in 2020, he'll immediately declare his 2024 candidacy."

Why does the coronavirus make it any more likely that Trump would seek vindication by demanding another shot at the presidency? Even under normal circumstances, he would have declared his defeat a crime, a fraud, and a robbery. He would have blamed voting by undocumented immigrants and he would have blamed CNN and The New York Times. He would have blamed George Soros and Google search algorithms and Twitter and YouTube "shadow-banning." His base would have believed all of his excuses. So -- assuming he didn't fight to overturn the results, which I wouldn't assume -- yes, he'd probably have immediately declared himself a 2024 candidate even after losing a normal election.

The virus doesn't make this any more likely. It just gives him a new excuse.

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