Paul Ryan and Trump never liked each other and never had much in common but open warfare has now broken out between them, Trump labelling Ryan a "pathetic loser" and "weak RINO" yesterday. Trumpy-the-clown: "Did anyone notice that Fox News went lame (bad!) when weak RINO Paul Ryan, who is despised in the Great State of Wisconsin for being 'a pathetic loser,' went on the Fox Board." Trump is trying to shut Ryan up with one of his classic bullying tactics.
Meanwhile, lame (bad!) Fox News reported that that at Colorado's Western Conservative Summit yesterday, DeSantis topped Trump in a straw poll for the far right's preferred 2024 presidential candidate-- the second time in a row that DeSantis beat poor lame (bad!) Señor Trumpanzee, increasingly yesterday's news in hard core MAGA circles. This year's poll:
Ted Cruz- 28.73%
Ben Carson- 24.15%
Sarah Huckabee Sanders- 18.40% (a participation trophy for speaking at their event)
Tim Scott- 17.41%
Trumpanzee, Jr- 16.16%
Nikki Haley- 15.53%
Mike Pence- 14.36%
Writing for the New Republic on Friday, Abdul El-Sayed noted that MAGA has outgrown Trump. He reported that right from the start, when Trump's run was just a publicity stunt, his "crass, angry, shoot-from-the-hip style offered his base a cultural release after eight years of President Obama-- the portrait of America’s growing, diverse, educated cosmopolitan elite. He legitimized xenophobia from the bully pulpit of the presidency. After all, the white working class, who are disproportionally his base, suffered under the austerity politics of the Great Recession. All the while, though, they were being told by GOP politicians that their losses were the consequence of a zero-sum economic and cultural power transfer from people like them to the people they saw in President Obama. But rather than directly contradict himself with austerity policies, Trump offered a direct rebuke to the country-club conservatism that had cost the base so dearly through the recession. He traded paeans to fiscal discipline for all-out cultural grievance." That's basically the underpinning of the mutual antipathy between Trump and Paul "Austerity" Ryan.
But El-Sayed's point is that Trump's power is fading. "In doggedly sticking to his Big Lie," he wrote, "Trump has inadvertently created a wedge in his own brand, as we saw in the way his endorsed candidates flailed in Georgia last week. How to have the base politics of culture war without the costs of the Big Lie? A new class of GOP aspirants are answering that question by cleaving Trump from Trumpism. And to out-Trump Trump, they are running to his right. Remember, Trump’s Big Lie is motivated less by a grand plan to undo American democracy than the petty narcissism of a small man who lost an election. And the GOP has already paid dearly for it, starting with the two Senate seats they lost in Georgia in 2020. Beyond party elites, there’s clear evidence that the rank and file is recognizing the Big Lie ball and chain. Embrace the culture war without the culture warrior."
He explained how Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) "make little effort to hide their presidential aspirations," two Ivy Leaguers trying to appeal to the rubes by pretending to be morons and imitating Trump to appeal to the QAnon crowd. "Then there are MAGA governors like Greg Abbott in Texas and Ron DeSantis in Florida. They’ve used their executive power and authorities to wage culture war on everything from immigration to abortion, LGBT rights to guns. How else can you frame Ron DeSantis’s quixotic campaign against Mickey Mouse? Or Abbott all but closing the border to commercial traffic to make a point about immigration?"
Most of Trump's endorsements are for Republicans with no opposition, which makes his win scorecard look much more impressive than it is. His crackpot candidates keep losing important races-- like for governor, secretary of state and attorney general of Georgia, governor of Nebraska, governor of Idaho... and North Carolinians ignored him when he asked them to give Trumpist sociopath Madison Cawthorn a "second chance." But he had some big primary wins where his endorsement was probably pivotal-- TV clown Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania and Peter Thiel puppet J.D. Vance in Ohio the most outstanding. "Trump’s losses," wrote El-Sayed, "are even more educational. Take Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s easy victory over Trump-endorsed former Senator David Purdue. It’s a prime example of the weight of Trump’s Big Lie ball and chain. Though Trump endorsed Kemp in 2018, he since recruited Purdue into the 2022 race because of Kemp’s apostasy on the Big Lie. Georgia Republicans, still smarting from the two Senate losses, sided with Kemp over Purdue by a whopping 52 points. That wasn’t the only statewide race where Trump-endorsed candidates got pummeled. His candidates for attorney general and secretary of state went down, too."
[W]hile Trump may still be the 800-pound gorilla in the GOP, his time as the alpha may be fading. Barnette, the Pennsylvania Senate candidate who split votes with Oz, may have put it best: “MAGA does not belong to President Trump.”
The demise of Donald Trump would be a good thing for democracy. Full Stop. But that doesn’t mean that a post-Trump GOP will be good for America. Instead, beating Trump in today’s GOP likely means leaning in on the worst of Trumpism. And that’s exactly what aspirants to the GOP presidential nomination in 2024 are doing. To get there, they’re going to keep perpetrating culture war on the rest of us, stealing reproductive rights from women, bullying LGBT kids, demagoguing Black and brown people, and putting more guns in more hands despite the murders of children in their own states.
Trump is playing it safe in all the primaries this week, backing only incumbents and sure winners or no one at all in California, Montana, New Mexico, New Jersey, Iowa, Mississippi and South Dakota-- leaving MAGA vs RINO challengers like Mike Crispi (NJ), Greg Raths (CA), Taffy Howard (SD) and a dozen others high and dry, disillusioned... and pissed off.