Is Donald Trump finished? – WSJ

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Former President Trump speaks during a visit to the border wall near Pharr, Texas on June 30.


Photo:

Sergio Flores / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

Is Donald Trump playing the game badly? The question must be asked. If you think Mr. Trump is the worst thing that has ever happened to America, the answer might not be entirely reassuring.

Let’s leave aside the elephant in the room, its post-election antics. If you were Mr. Trump’s Twitter strategist, you’d be kicking yourself right now. Assuming he could be persuaded to bring a minimum of discipline to his tweet, he would be on a “I told you so” roll: My vaccines are the global gold standard. I warned you about the possibility of a laboratory leak in China. I have warned you against “police funding,” runaway urban delinquency, and democrats with their aroused racism, which they call Critical Race Theory.

I have warned you against illegal immigration, hundreds of thousands of people risking their lives and the lives of their children to arrive here illegally. I offered a large beautiful wall with a large beautiful portal. Instead, we have the border chaos of Sleepy Joe. Then he can throw out the post-Covid job boom I gave him. And which president ate from Putin’s hand – canceling the arms for Ukraine, surrendering the Nord Stream pipeline, pleading for relief from the ransomware reign of terror? Could anyone have done a worse job to get us out of Afghanistan? It has been a travesty, with America appearing weak rather than strong by cleverly putting America first (the eternal privilege of powerlessness is the fanciful counterfactual).

The elephant in the room is his refusal to accept the results of the 2020 race, which has become an albatross to millions of former fans and many who have served in his administration. You don’t expect a mea culpa but, because that’s how he operates, you might expect him to emerge with a new story about how his now admitted defeat was truly a moral victory. This story would in fact have a certain power of persuasion:

I got 11 million more votes (he would say) than in 2016. I got more votes than any presidential candidate in history except Joe Biden. And it’s not because Joe Biden is both Washington and Lincoln. If the race had been Biden against Jeb Bush, do you think 155 million would have turned out to be? No chance. It was my job. The real change was on the table. Real change greatly upsets vested interests. This upsets a lot of the nervous nellies and swamp creatures who were happy under the “America Last” policies of my detractors.

The only way the Democrats could beat me (he would go on) was with every trick in the book, using the pandemic to allow wide-open mail-in voting, bringing out a lot of uninformed, unmotivated voters who might be intimidated by them. media to vote for Joe. I still won by leaving with the voters who voted on election day, who care about our country and the sanctity of the ballot box.

If you had Mr. Trump’s ear, you might tell him that a political gold mine lies in making this concession to a Biden victory (without, of course, acknowledging that this amounts to a concession). Mr Trump could then position himself to benefit from the inevitable remorse of Biden’s buyer, taking credit for what promises to be a strong GOP performance in 2022. He could even mend barriers with thousands of dollars. GOP voters who never forgave him for losing two Georgia Senate Seats.

Democrats are lucky Mr. Trump doesn’t have a long game. He goes from setback to setback, playing tit for tat. Yet luck is working for him here too. America doesn’t feel any less chaotic with him off the board. A cynic might also notice that, for all his boastfulness, Mr. Trump has generally refrained from being pinned down on any specific allegations of voter fraud. It was always “people tell me” or “what I hear”. So Mr. Trump may not have completely dismissed the possibility of digging beneath his post-election behavior, with a typically cheeky piece of Trump revisionism.

My own guess is that Mr. Trump can’t afford not running for president by 2024 is too lucrative. Much of his working life now seems to consist of paying himself for the services his companies provide to his own campaign, funded by thousands of small donations and sales of Trump merchandise. And yet, the thirst for him to be president again, even among his fans, is not obvious. I also wonder: would he sell his hotel in Washington, one of the few ways he managed to synergize his business interests with those political interests during his presidency, if he considered becoming president again?

I doubt. Mr Trump has probably already decided that he will just pick the next president, which explains the troop of hopes outside his door in Mar-a-Lago.

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