Mr. Trump at 2022 CPAC last week, 3/4
Note that 3/4 is the date of the post. Mr. Trump's speech was 2/26
I watched this speech. My reaction was the same as my reaction to his speech last year. I find the relationship between Mr. Trump and his supporters very disturbing.
In a Q&A session with members of the conservative media, Mr. Trump was asked whether he could show as much courage as Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy. His response struck me as candid and endearing. He said that you can tell yourself that you are brave, but until you are in such a situation you do not know how you will act.
But overall, Mr. Trump comes across as possessing a large share of the Dark Triad traits—Machiavallianism, psychopathy, and especially narcissism. He brags that he got along with Putin and other dictators, saying that he can be tough at the same time. If you were in a drinking game in which you had to take a shot every time he said “greatest ever” or “best ever” in describing his Administration, you would have passed out long before the speech ended.
He continues to regard anyone who does not believe that he won the 2020 election as an enemy. He singled out Mitch McConnell and the Supreme Court for particularly bitter rebukes. Given his fixation with personal loyalty and his propensity for turning on erstwhile allies, I cannot imagine high-caliber people joining a second Trump Administration, should that come to pass. I would add that if recent events have made you long for unity in this country and warm relationships with the NATO countries, I doubt that Mr. Trump is your man.
The crowd at CPAC eagerly complied with Mr. Trump’s demands for unswerving loyalty. He seemed to send them into ecstasy, much more akin to Beatlemania than to any sort of ordinary political enthusiasm. If his reception at CPAC is indicative, then he would likely win the nomination if he runs in 2024.
In 2016, Mr. Trump’s appeal to anti-elitism might have made him unique in the Republican Party. But since then, the Democrats have dug themselves into an arrogant progressive hole so deeply that it is hard so see how they can climb out. Republicans cannot help but capitalize on anti-Woke, anti-elitist sentiment. If in 2016 Mr. Trump might have been the only Republican who could win, in 2024 he may be the only Republican who could lose.
I would rather have Russia's behavior when Trump was president over Russia's behavior when either Obama or Biden have been president. Likewise for oil and natural gas policies, inflation, and what feels like an endless list of other things where the president has a strong, direct or indirect, influence on the outcome.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis seems to be taking the tack of a slightly higher-brow Trump. He does not have Trump's depth of support among the public. That might change once the primary campaigns commence in earnest -- he certainly has taken anti-elite stances on a number of topics, and has engaged in many facile, soundbite-oriented Twitter exchanges. I've also seen Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin mooted as another more-or-less populist alternative to Trump. Personally, I would like Youngkin to continue to be my governor, rather than spend time campaigning for a higher office and then leaving his last year.
The problem with wanting "unity in this country and warm relationships with the NATO countries" is that, historically, those things have only come at the cost of existential threats. Since the end of the Cold War, US political culture has been a continuing story of brinksmanship and escalating hostility. Relationships with NATO countries have been strained in part because we were willing to spend lots of our GDP to protect Europe, they took advantage of it, and Trump publicly insisted they meet their NATO obligations. Their tentative steps to satisfy those obligations have been spurred further by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Agree. Trump was the "grenade" tossed at the establishment to reframe issues and get the Republican base engaged. As Democrats have moved Left, Republicans need to take ground in the center. Trump is not that person. DeSantis is.