Politico reported today that Trump is going ahead with his announcement tomorrow that he’s running for president. They reported that “One person familiar with his plans” told them that “Trump would never postpone the kickoff, if only because doing so would be a tacit acknowledgement that he is, in fact, a drag on GOP candidates running in close general elections.” They also reminded their readers that Trump’s announcement comes the same day that So Help Me God, Pence’s book goes on sale— a book that paints Trump as “part of the problem.”
Trump allies and the most far right members among GOP senators are trying to displace McConnell as minority leader. And this morning CNN reported that an Arizona, neo-fascist congressman, Andy Biggs, is going to challenge Kevin McCarthy for the speakership. Biggs, who is way too extreme even for the GOP and has no chance to win, told reporters, fresh from a Freedom Caucus meeting, that “We need to have a real discussion about whether he should be the speaker. I think we should have a very frank discussion internally about where we’re going to be going forward.” Members of the fascist wing on the House Republicans are demanding that members of each committee elect their chairs rather than the GOP Steering Committee, which McCarthy controls. They are also demanding that every bill be first voted on by the entire Republican Conference before it’s taken to the floor, guaranteeing that only bills backed by a “majority of the majority” even get presented to the House. That way McCarthy will be unable to make any deals with the Democrats to pass any compromises. And, as we’ve explained before, the fascist wing of the GOP is also demanding a approval of a scheme to make it easy for them to dump a speaker with a no confidence kind of vote. And this is just the beginning. McCarthy is going to wish he was never born. Republican House leadership elects are tomorrow, or at least they're scheduled for tomorrow. The fascist wing is trying to postpone them. (Senate Republicans vote of their leadership Wednesday morning, although, again, the fascist wing-- led by Rick Scott, Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson and encouraged by Trump-- is trying to postpone them.)
Meanwhile, NRCC head, Tom Emmer, has been running for party whip and that’s probably going to be a lot harder for him now that some Republicans are blaming him for how badly the party did last week. Also... Congressman Lee Zeldin, who was beaten in the gubernatorial race by the worst of the Democratic governors seeking reelection, is out to replace Ronna Romney as head of the RNC. And... the Jewish Nazi League has their big annual meeting in Las Vegas this week, which will be addressed by DeSantis, Youngkin, Pompeo and Pence... but not Señor Trumpanzee.
Yesterday, the New Yorker published an essay by Benjamin Wallace-Wells, The Republicans’ Post-Midterm Reckoning With Donald Trump. He wrote that “Within hours of the GOP’s dismal failure to produce a ‘red wave,’ the knives were out for the Party’s presumed leader. ‘Republicans have followed Donald Trump off the side of a cliff,’ David Urban, one of the ex-President’s former advisers, told the Times. On Twitter, Jacqui Heinrich, a White House correspondent for Fox News, quoted a Republican source as saying, ‘If it wasn’t clear before it should be now. We have a Trump problem.’”
Of course, as Wallace-Wells, makes clear, “The specific gripe that these Republicans have with Trump is not of a moral or a legal nature. The problem, in their eyes, is that Trump effectively handpicked the candidates who underperformed in some of the country’s most crucial races. Many of these duds had won Trump’s favor for only one reason: fealty to a lie. As Chris Christie put it, ‘The only animating factor [for Trump] in determining an endorsement is Do you believe the 2020 election was stolen or don’t you?’ This loyalty test led Trump to back a huckster doctor (Mehmet Oz, in Pennsylvania); a foggy ex-football star who supported a nationwide ban on abortion yet allegedly pushed former paramours to have the procedure (Herschel Walker, in Georgia); and a young venture capitalist who proved susceptible to dorm-room musings about the wisdom of the Unabomber (Blake Masters, in Arizona). On the morning after the election, Trump reportedly lashed out at people in his circle who he says advised him to back the likes of Oz—including his wife, Melania. What a guy.”
Republicans are forever stomping around, insisting that they’ve had enough of Trump’s excesses, only to get over it and once again line up behind him. Why should this time be any different? The best reason to think that it will— really, the only reason— is that now there is an alternative. “defuture” was the enormous headline on the front page of Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post on Wednesday. It ran, of course, with a photograph of a smiling Ron DeSantis, the resoundingly reëlected governor of Florida. If that headline was too subtle, the Post followed it the next day with a front-page cartoon of Trump teetering on the top of a wall: “trumpty dumpty.” From Fox News to Trumpworld itself, the loyalists were fleeing. As the results came in on CBS, Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s former chief of staff, said, “DeSantis wins tonight and Trump is not doing very well.”
The postmortems are still accumulating, but they already suggest a pattern. The Republicans had no trouble turning out their base. Their struggle was in winning over the independent voters who customarily reject the party in power. And this time around the GOP had enormous advantages, from the high rate of inflation to the low popularity ratings of the sitting President. According to Nate Cohn, of the Times, Republican candidates fared poorly in places where abortion rights were on the ballot, and in places where the Party’s candidates had backed Trump’s challenges to the election. (Democrats also made much of Republican plans to weaken Medicare and Social Security.) The electoral problem was simple: the Republicans were too extreme, and not just on one issue.
…You can trace the effects of the midterms on Presidential politics by observing who is acting relaxed and who is anxious. At a press conference on Wednesday, Joe Biden, who turns eighty this month, was positively ebullient. DeSantis merely basked in what he called “a win for the ages.” Trump, on the other hand, exhibited a frenzied urgency. Republican officials, including Kevin McCarthy, who seems likely to become the next Speaker of the House, had reportedly talked Trump out of declaring a 2024 Presidential bid on the night before the midterms. Instead, Trump announced an announcement: a major speech that he says he’ll make at Mar-a-Lago on November 15th. Later in the week, as Hurricane Nicole threatened Palm Beach County, Trump wrote a post on Truth Social, the platform he founded after he was banned from Twitter, sniping at the Murdoch-owned outlets that seemed to be “all in for Governor Ron DeSanctimonious, an average REPUBLICAN Governor with great Public Relations.”
That DeSantis has become a Trump fixation makes sense. One political truism holds that, at any given time, only two people in politics really matter: the President, and whomever the President is arguing with. For more than half a decade, Trump has been one of those two people. Now he has a challenger.