The one important takeaway from yesterday’s election is that it’s unlikely that the current investigations into Donald Trump’s misdeeds will result in his indictment.
Why would Democrat-controlled attorneys general go after their party’s most potent weapon?
Across the country, terribly defective candidates whose only qualification was that they were simps for the loser former president went down to defeat in elections that practically anyone else would have won.
In Pennsylvania, for example, it’s embarrassing that poor John Fetterman won. But it’s even more embarrassing that the Republican candidate lost to him. That candidate was a dislikable daytime television star hand picked by Donald Trump, who barely won a primary over Dave McCormick, someone who would easily have defeated Fetterman but wouldn’t suck up to Donald Trump.
The brightest spot in a gloomy night for the GOP was Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis did it the hard way: he has been a really good governor there, proving that conservative principles are popular when they are observed by someone who is both conservative and principled. (Admittedly, he was running against suntanned ambulance chaser Charlie Crist, who has lost so many times it’s a surprise Trump didn’t endorse him.)
You’ll be unsurprised that three nights before the election, at a campaign rally for the loser Mehmet Oz, the loser Trump called DeSantis “Ron DeSanctimonious.” On the day before the election Trump, who has never won a popular vote, tried to blackmail DeSantis. “I would tell you things about him that won’t be very flattering — I know more about him than anybody other than, perhaps, his wife,” the former president, whose redeeming qualities are nonexistent, said in an interview.
Trump, whose record of losses — 2018, 2020, now 2022 — is matched only by his unpopularity, backed a group of D-list “Republican” candidates, all of whom promised to subscribe to Trump’s fulsome fiction that he actually won the 2020 presidential election, which he clearly did not.
He is a loser. The Democrats had to nominate Hillary Clinton — Hillary Clinton! — in order to lose to him in the Electoral College. “We’re going to win so much, you’re going to be so sick and tired of winning,” he said in 2016. If you’ve paid attention you’ll note that after barely winning the Electoral College and losing the popular vote that year, he has not won since, nor has any of the candidates he has sponsored.
I am a life-long Republican. Donald Trump is not now nor has he ever been a Republican. He ran as a Republican because that table was empty and the Fox News morning show thought it would be fun if he ran for president. (Claiming to be a Republican is a New York tradition. Remember, Michael Bloomberg was the “Republican” mayor of New York City because Mark Green had the Democrats’ nomination in the bag. Bloomberg wasn’t a Republican before and he hasn’t been since. In that regard he is more honest than Donald Trump and as such he clears the lowest bar imaginable.)
He is not just a loser, he is a very poor loser. Anyone else who had lost to a candidate of the caliber of Joe Biden would shut the hell up and possibly even do a little soul searching. Not Donald Trump. “I didn’t lose. I won,” the loser Trump said instead. Soul searching? How can you search that which you show no evidence of having, let alone acknowledging?
Even the most cursory examination of Donald Trump’s life makes manifest the fact that he is and always has been a career scam artist. He’s still at it. He raised more than $100 million this election cycle. The purpose, he said, was to help finance the campaigns of people he supported. Ah, but he put only $15 million of it to use in that way. Where’s the rest?
I mentioned that Trump is the Democrats’ secret weapon. You you might think I was engaging in hyperbole. I wasn’t. The Democrats spent in the neighborhood of $50 million to help weak candidates win the Republican primaries in many states. These were candidates who had kissed Trump’s, um, ring:
The lackluster Dan Cox for governor of Maryland, against the dynamic Kelly Schulz. Endorsed by Trump, Cox received $1.16 million in primary money from the Democratic Governors Association. Yesterday, Democrat Wes Moore defeated Cox 60-37.
Darren Bailey for Illinois governor over the popular Aurora mayor Richard Irvin. Endorsed by Trump, the Democrat-backed Bailey won the primary against much better candidates. Bailey lost to J.B. Pritzker yesterday 54-23.
Attractive television personality Kari Lake had strong support from Democrats in her primary campaign and, as a full Trump sycophant, she received Trump’s endorsement. As I write this the race hasn’t been called, but it looks as if she’ll soon join the Trump loser club. Democrats were afraid that the other Republican primary candidate, Karrin Taylor Robson, might win; Trump was afraid that Robson wouldn’t lie for him.
In the Pennsylvania governor primary, Democrat Josh Shapiro spent twice as much in support of weakling Trumpist Doug Mastriano than Mastriano’s campaign did itself. Of course Trump endorsed Mastriano — who lost yesterday to Shapiro, 56-43.
The list goes on. Dazzled by his own reflection in the mirror, Trump may not even realize that he’s a tool — the term of art is “useful idiot” — for the Democrats. But Trump is not a Republican. Trump is a Trumpist.
Some real Republicans were out of Trump’s reach. DeSantis hasn’t bowed to the orange grifter, and DeSantis carried his state by nearly 20 points, driven to victory by a strong coalition and by his own performance as governor.
You may remember Georgia in 2020, when Trump tried to strong-arm Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger: “Fellas, I need 11,000 votes, give me a break.” Kemp and Raffensperger said their souls weren’t for sale. As a result, in September 2021 Trump endorsed Kemp’s opponent, Stacey Abrams, a fellow election denier. Yesterday, Kemp won re-election 53-45 and Raffensperger won 53-44.
As long as we’re walking down memory lane in Georgia, let’s not forget that both Senate seats from that state were subject to runoff elections in January 2021. Rather than campaign for the Republicans in those elections or, better, just shutting the hell up, Trump went to Georgia and whined about having lost the presidential election (though he didn’t put it that way). Disgusted Georgia voters elected both Democrats, producing the 50-50 Senate. Pause for a moment and ponder how different our country would be today if either or both Republicans had won. It was an expensive presidential tantrum, but the inveterate loser and con artist Donald Trump thought it well worth the price.
(You’ll hear that abortion was a huge issue in the Republicans’ defeat yesterday. Note that the non-Trump Republican winners — but I repeat myself — all signed laws restricting abortion, so that doesn’t seem to be the deciding factor.)
Loser and loser-backer Trump didn’t destroy every candidacy he touched. In Ohio, a strongly Republican state, he backed come-lately suckup J.D. Vance, and Vance went on to win 53-47 anyway. But Trump was lukewarm about Gov. Mike DeWine, who was re-elected 63-37.
Before the night was out Trump was on the little website he has created as a meeting place for his toadies, attacking Republicans who hadn’t bent a knee to him. Of Joe O’Dea, the Colorado Republican senatorial candidate, Trump wrote, “Joe O’Dea lost BIG! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!!!”
Trump demands loyalty, but he never offers it. After his boy Don Bolduc lost his election for the Senate from New Hampshire, Trump spewed this: “Don Bolduc was a very nice guy, but he lost tonight when he disavowed, after his big primary win, his longstanding stance on Election Fraud in the 2020 Presidential Primary. Had he stayed strong and true, he would have won, easily. Lessons Learned!!!”
Trump supporters aren’t Republicans, they’re Trump supporters. They have their own reasons, only some of which ought to be treated by competent professionals. There are, Heaven willing, fewer of them today than there were yesterday. Maybe in the cool light of this morning a few realized that they actually have been followers of a guy capable of losing to Joe Biden.
Others, seems to me, have more cynical motives. The once semi-respectable Mike Huckabee is on television trying to “give away” comic books touting Trump’s “accomplishments” to children and others who are gullible and who can barely read, so to him Trump is a meal ticket. Fox News, whose relationship to Trump is the same as that of the New York yellow press to the Spanish-American War, makes good money off the Trump story, Trump’s credulous supporters, and the advertisers who prey upon those supporters, such as aforementioned Huckabee — who used to actually have a Fox News program — and that disturbing bedding vendor. Trump is good entertainment and with few exceptions Fox News is an entertainment channel. We have no all-news channel in this country.
So today, the day after a disastrous election, what is to be learned? That the Republicans have to jettison Trump wholesale, something that it should have done in 2015. Will that happen? I have no idea. Probably not.
There was a time when politics was if not honorable at least practical, not blind to attempts to lead it astray. It is sad that today I have to look back more than 70 years to find solace. In July 1952, Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen, an Illinois statesman, spoke at the Republican National Convention. He pointed a long, bony finger at failed 1948 presidential candidate Thomas Dewey. “We followed you before,” Dirksen thundered, “and you took us down the road to defeat.”
Modern Republicans must do the same, this time pointing at the malignant interloper and perpetual loser Donald Trump.
That failing, perhaps Trump could take it upon himself to prove that he is as godlike as he wants us to believe he is. Maybe he could prove his invincible powers by taking up the exciting sport of golfing during thunderstorms.
Dennis E. Powell is crackpot-at-large at Open for Business. Powell was a reporter in New York and elsewhere before moving to Ohio, where he has (mostly) recovered. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You need to be logged in if you wish to comment on this article. Sign in or sign up here.
Start the Conversation