Will Trump Burn Down The Party On His Way Out?
Paul Mulshine is the in-house conservative at the Newark Star-Ledger. If the Lord of Bedminster lost him— and he did— he’s in real trouble. In his column today, Mulshine reminded his readers that Trump used to be a registered Democrat, has a bad hairdo and has always been an authoritarian with disdain for the rule of law… and for the Constitution. He also reminded them that Trump belongs in prison for seditious conspiracy.
If Trump were to be convicted and thrown into federal prison, it would have the effect of which Voltaire wrote. In 1759, in writing of an admiral who was shot for failing to defend a key harbor. Voltaire said that it is good to kill an admiral now and then, “pour encourager les autres”— which translates as “encourage the others.”
The same can be said of presidents who violate the Constitution. If one president did a stint in the slammer for violating it, the others would be encouraged to follow it strictly.
…If he were behind bars, Trump could engage in rape fantasies to his heart’s content.
Just leave us Republicans out of it.
Mulshine is angry at Trump because of the results of the midterms and specifically blames the losses in Pennsylvania and Georgia on him. Many other elites among Republicans are just as angry as Muslshine is and you no doubt have heard the drumbeat all week to drive Trump away from the 2024 nomination and from control of their party. They want it back. Washington Post reporters Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Michael Scherer wrote this morning that “In private conversations among donors, operatives and other 2024 presidential hopefuls, a growing number of Republicans are trying to seize what they believe may be their best opportunity to sideline Trump and usher in a new generation of party leaders. Many blame Tuesday’s midterm results— Republicans made smaller-than-expected gains in the House and failed to gain control of the Senate— on the former president, who during the primaries elevated extremist candidates who fared poorly in the general election. The discouraging election outcomes, combined with Trump’s 2020 loss to Biden, have increased both public and private talk of considering a post-Trump world.”
They pointed to prominent GOP pollster Whit Ayres and noted he divides his party “into three key buckets. A small group, roughly 10 percent, are ‘Never Trumpers,’ Republicans who have long and vocally opposed Trump. A far larger group, about 40 percent, are ‘Always Trumpers,’ his hardcore base that will never abandon him. The remaining 50 percent or so, Ayres said, are ‘Maybe Tumpers’— Republicans who voted for him twice, who generally like his policies but who are now eager to escape the chaos that accompanies him… So they are open to supporting someone else who will do much of what they want without all of the baggage. So then the question becomes: Who?’”
How ironic will it be that mainstream conservative David Valadao, who voted to impeach Trump, is likely to make the difference between the Republicans winning a House a majority in the House or the Democrats keeping it. (Lucky for the GOP and Valadao that the Democrats virtually went to Sacramento and looked around the state legislature and asked, ‘Who is the most conservative and most corrupt, bribe-taking Democrat?’ and found Valadao’s opponent, Rudy Salas, leader of the so-called Mod Squad, California’s version of the Blue Dog but with more of an emphasis on taking bribes from Big Oil, Big Insurance and the most predatory components of the Medical Industrial Complex.
Anyway, on Friday, Christian Vanderbrouk made it clear that Trump isn’t the only culprit in the GOP’s poor performance in the midterms. He wrote that “The Republican party’s failure to engineer anything approaching a ‘tsunami’— likely the worst midterm election performance by a party out of power since 2002— has the GOP and conservative establishment (again) calling for Donald Trump’s political exile. But can the Republican party just fire the manager and get back to owning the libs? Where did all those ‘bad candidates’ come from, anyway? Can you really blame them all on a Florida retiree without a Twitter account?”
Vanderbrouk blames GOP mandarins like Rick Scott, Kevin McCarthy and Lindsey Graham for Trump’s continued dominance of their party. “[W]hile the spirit may have been willing, the flesh was weak.” They all had their own selfish reasons for keeping Trump around. “So,” wrote Vanderbrouk, “here we are. Again. Can the GOP successfully dislodge Trump from the commanding heights of Republican politics this time? Possibly. Party leaders and conservative media are attempting to create a sense of inevitability around Ron DeSantis. Even some in Trump’s orbit are reportedly urging him to ‘delay’ his rumored forthcoming presidential announcement. Could a rebranded MAGA movement continue by just replacing the frontman? Is it still Journey without Steve Perry, or the Grateful Dead without Jerry Garcia? In a way, yes. MAGA could Jefferson Starship itself indefinitely as long as the crowds keep vibing. But without the original magic the venues tend to shrink, the fans get old, and it all starts to seem a little pathetic. How much of a burden can you place on a single scapegoat? Over the last seven years we were told time and again that Trump was a symptom of a larger phenomenon. Is that no longer the case?"
He pointed out that garbage candidates like Kari Lake, Mehmet Oz, Herschel Walker and especially Blake Masters can’t only be blamed on Trump. “Where does Trump end and the far-right begin? If you dump Trump but keep the people who built him up and protected him every step of the way, did you really change anything? Blaming Trump is easy. Organizing a realignment of the GOP coalition to improve its standing with younger voters— by purging the party of its openly racist and seditionist elements, for example— is more of a challenge. An early test of the GOP’s determination to put the former president out to pasture will come during the Georgia Senate runoff.”
Looking ahead to the 2024 presidential campaign, Republicans will seek to avoid a destructive showdown between Trump and DeSantis. The ingredients for a “corrupt bargain” are there. Trump needs federal protection, possibly even a pardon. DeSantis needs the former president’s support, or at least some assurance that he won’t be bad for business.
The problem with a prospective Trump-DeSantis detente is that the threats they pose to each other are asymmetrical.
Trump has indicated he’s willing to destroy the Florida governor. “I think if he runs he could hurt himself very badly,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal. “I will tell you things about him that won’t be very flattering. I know more about him than anybody other than perhaps his wife, who is really running his campaign.”
But is DeSantis actually willing to destroy Trump, to see him ruined or even imprisoned? I have my doubts about that. Because such a course of action could cost him a lot of Republican votes.
And this is the asymmetry which drives the GOP’s cycle of dysfunction— and has since then-RNC chairman Reince Priebus desperately tried to convince Trump to “pledge” to support the Republican nominee in 2016:
Trump can destroy the party whenever he wants, yet the party can’t destroy him without also risking its own crack-up.
Nor can Republicans assume that Trump can be easily dismissed. His $100 million war chest can sustain armies of grifters and right-wing media, promising that any contest for GOP primacy would be long and painful.
And speaking of especially terrible MAGA candidates, in an Instagram post she appears to have taken down (but which you can read below), Sarah Palin told her followers that GOP deserved their losses, although not her, who’s terrible performance she blames on Lisa Murkowski’s “dark, dysfunctional GOP machine” and on ranked. Choice voting, which she called “cockamamie… The GOP establishment deserves losses until it’s willing to fight for what is right. They opposed me every step of the way in my Congressional bid, which is par for the course.