MSNBC has been running a four-part series on Rudy Giuliani, “When Truth Isn’t Truth: The Rudy Giuliani Story.” There is one more episode to go. It’s been pretty good, although it hasn’t shown me anything new. However, I had forgotten that Rudy Giuliani was, briefly, the frontrunner for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. This was in 2007, before the primaries had started. By December 2007, he was fading.
There were a number of reasons for the fade. News stories had come out about misappropriations of funds while he was mayor, for example. There were a lot of criticisms of his primary calendar stragtegy. He seemed disinteresed in rural areas far from NYC, for example. But a larger reason, the series said, may have been that he didn’t have anything to run on other than September 11. His past positions on the culture issues, especially abortion and gay rights, was way to the left of the party, so he couldn’t go that route. Instead he went to one campaign event after another talking about Islamic terrorism and how he had handled the September 11 attacks. He was like a one-hit wonder whose hit was now an oldie. He was stuck in the past.
Trump seems to me to be falling into a similar hole. His current campaign seems largely to be based on his 2016 campaign, as the outsider who is promising to go to Washington and bust up the old, corrupt regime. It’s as if he wants us to forget he was POTUS for four years already. But at the same time, he also is running on getting revenge for 2020.
The big polling companies don’t seem to be polling on the alleged fraud in the 2020 election any more. The most recent poll I could find was from last July. But that poll and those that went before pretty consistently showed that just under a third of respondents believed the Big Lie, and close to two thirds did not. Add to that the fact that election deniers overall flamed out in the 2022 midterms, I’d say this is not a viable issue for the 2024 presidential race.
As in 2020, Trump is making promises he doesn’t know how to keep (“Nobody knew health care could be so complicated”). Now he’s promising to end the war in Ukraine. Anyone who cares what happens in Ukraine surely would not trust Trump with any part of it. Those who trust Trump probably don’t give a hoo-haw about Ukraine, one way or another.
I admit I didn’t believe Trump could win in 2016 until election night. But subsequent analysis of voters showed us he got the “what the hell” vote, people who really weren’t supporters of either candidate and made up their minds at the last minute. That’s much less likely to happen in 2024. People know him now.
And then there’s Ron DeSantis. DeSantis was in California this weekend running against covid restrictions. I don’t know how Californians overall feel about covid restrictions, but now that they’re all lifted, exactly what point is Ron making here, other than he’s willing to sacrifice lives for the sake of the economy? Florida has a much higher death rate (402 per 100,000 people) from covid than California (255 per 100,000 people). Someone who could do math could probably calculate the number of Floridians who died who wouldn’t have died had they lived in California.
DeSantis seems to be running on gender issues more than Trump, although Trump is running against drag queens and trans women in sports too. I’m not seeing much in the way of recent polling on gender issues. What percentage of Americans are likely to cast votes based on candidates’ positions on drag queens, I wonder? I have no idea. But I doubt the drag queen issue will have the same traction next year as, say abortion.
I’ve already said DeSantis has peaked already. I could be wrong about that. But I’m not seeing anything about his campaign that would appeal to normal people. He and Trump are both competing for the same voting block, seems to me, but that voting block isn’t big enough to carry a national election, I don’t believe, barring some real meltdown by the Democrats.
Where is the Right going now? I liked this description of the recent CPAC convention by Ben Jacobs at New York:
The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was once a marquee event on the political calendar where Republicans seeking the favor of the party’s conservative base would attempt to woo a crowd of right-wing activists and diehards. In 2015, the last time there was a competitive Republican presidential primary, a dozen candidates showed up, representing all wings of the party from Chris Christie to Ted Cruz. And they weren’t the only ones there, it was a marquee event for the entire right-wing ecosystem with seemingly every group represented. Eight years later, the vibe was entirely different. The 2023 CPAC felt like a mall after all but one of its big department stores has shut down — an emptier, jankier, lower-rent version of conferences past. The rooms were more deserted, the vendors more downmarket, and speakers a little less important.
On the other hand, Molly Jong-Fast writes at Vanity Fair that Trump and his tribe are still dangerous. She says the vibe at CPAC was more authoritarian than in the past. “Rather than ‘Make America Great Again,’ the vibe, at times, was more like ‘Let’s Make America Hungary.'” And Trump is now explicitly running against the Republican party. “We had a Republican Party that was ruled by freaks, neocons, globalists, open-border zealots and fools,” he said. “But we are never going back to the party of Paul Ryan, Karl Rove, and Jeb Bush.”
I don’t think this “movement” has anywhere else to go but into terrorism and violence.
That said, this is just for fun.
"For those who were wronged and betrayed, I'm your retribution."
Those were the chilling last words of tRUMP's speech to his ravenous MAGAts at CPAC on Saturday.
Retribution, usually includes some form(s) of vengeance.
And the promise of vengeance is what hits the "G-spot" for conservatives.
Make them feel wronged and betrayed, promise them retribution, and (after they get done humping your leg) they'll follow you and your orders until the end of time.
That's kinda pretty much the whole authoritarian playbook, no?
"Gotchya," CPAC suckers!
I was carefully tracking the pandemic, and I watched in muted sickness as Florida's deaths/100k kept rising, relative to the rest of the nation, and finally surpassing even California's (which got hit *hard* initially – WA got off relatively lightly on their first wave. (Relative to CA, MA, NY, NJ, and other massive first-hits.)
DeSantis expressly wanted to spread Covid-19 – I'm betting he was a "once everyone catches it, it's no longer a big deal" which was proven false, time and again. He didn't stock vaccine, instead stocking monoclonal antibodies, and outlawed restrictions due to Covid-19.
That is to say: he was deliberately infecting US citizens, and sending them out "in the wild" knowing it will lead to more American deaths. How is this not an act of biological warfare? Don't get shocked – tell me the answer to the question: how?
It's true, he didn't cause the original contagion, causing Covid-19 to spread – but he still deliberately caused people to be infected. By following his laws and rules, more citizens would become infected, and they would, in turn, infect others.
It's true, he didn't target any specific people, but, biowarfare never does. It's not like chemical warfare, where there's no point in gassing without targeting; the point is to get an illness to cause harm to the enemy.
I'm not trying to say he is infinitely evil, a bio-warfare Bond villain… but he not only *didn't* try to stop the pandemic, he refused to allow others to do so. That meant no one else could combat the "bio-attack" to stop its spread.
So, not an infinitely evil Bond villain, but, extremely like a Bond villain's employee, not the one who spreads the germs, but the one that sabotages the response to the bio-attack.
I know it's "shrill," but *people died*. They died gasping for air, drowning on dry land. Other people paid the cost, so DeSantis could brag "no shutdowns!"
And I'm not saying I think we should be trying DeSantis for treason. I'm saying that we should be trying DeSantis for some lesser crime, and occasionally explaining that a conviction on treason was simply not reasonably possible. Because "killing Americans, for political benefit" should cause at least a loud minority to scream "treason!"
Am I crazy-wrong, or just appropriately raging?
I'm more inclined to think "infinitely evil". One person DeSantis did specifically target was Rebekah Jones, the Florida Covid scientist/whistleblower who refused to manipulate data to downplay the public impact of the virus. Just like Trump, DeSantis acted contrary to the best interest of the public, deliberately causing more deaths than should have been.
Let's talk about Rudy. If I was to bet on Georgia indictments, prosecutions, and convictions, resulting from the investigation, Mayor Bug-eyes would be at the top of my list I think (opinion) that a conviction of Rudy Giulini for election interference is a slam-dunk. Why? Georgia put together a slate of fake electors entirely at Rudy's direction. I say that's a proven because GA said the people who signed the fake document (illegally) are 'targets' – subject to prosecution. They will testify that Rudy put them up to it. Ignoring J6 completely, that's a crime committed in GA, election fraud, where multiple witnesses will finger Giulini.
If Rudy flips, he also makes the federal case. Trump was at the center of the fraud in multiple states with an overt intention of overturning the election. Depending on the evidence that GA has, I think Eastman is high on the list of people going down. Entirely opinion, if Trump's lawyers get charged, it will have an effect on lawyers defending Trump, regardless of fees, if they have to follow Trump's instructions in the defense. (At the moment, it looks like Trump is managing the defense strategy in all the civil cases.) By the time Trump faces federal charges, the team of lawyers he has to draw from will look like the Keystone Cops with briefcases. My guess is that as things get worse, Trump will be even more of a control freak in dictating strategy.
Which brings us to Maha's conclusion:
"I don’t think this “movement” has anywhere else to go but into terrorism and violence."
Trump will have only two ways to avoid the consequences of multiple criminal convictions – 1) A revolution led by his fanatics or 2) Fleeing the US to avoid confinement. I say "confinement" because I think a sentence that limits Trump to a small section of Mir A Lago is more likely than a jail cell. But I think Trump will flee the country rather than face a judge who could decide Trump gets my old cell at Federal Detention Center – Miami. I don't think Trump will stay in the US to face sentencing unless he's guaranteed a ruling won't include prison. The only way you get that guarantee (no chance of prison) is if you plead guilty before trial.
DeSantis is running to the right of Trump. I would not have believed there was a lane out there, but Ron found one. I'm not sure if DeSantis peaked, but Fox will continue to promote him and DeSantis is almost certainly the GOP nominee if Trump drops out.
Trump drop out? That's insane – he has to run (and win) to have the power to shield himself from other investigations and charges. True, but it's also likely that Trump will be representing himself (in function if not on paper) in three unrelated felony criminal trials in three different jurisdictions. In business or government, having too much on your plate requires you delegate. Trump either can't or won't and the pressure will crush him. Trump may unravel very publicly – this is how DeSantis might inherit the GOP from Trump, but it won't be enough. There's no way to rehabilitate DeSantis to make him palatable to the non-fascist majority. There's no way Trump will exit the stage gracefully, short of a heart attack on the 11th hole.
The 2024 presidential election is do-or-die for two rival power groups that make up the GOP. The first group is the "donor class." Signals are out there that they worry the Trump tax cuts will sunset in 2027 unless the GOP has a majority in both sides of the Capitol Building and the White House. Democrats don't have to pass anything for the tax cuts to expire. It's automatic ten years after the cuts were passed – in the first year of Trump's rule. The other group doesn't care about tax cuts – the fascists want the power to hurt the groups they hate. Some of their top people are in jail or facing jail – their power is in decline. Voters are turning against them. The only path to power is revolution. Charging 1000 people for various crimes related to J6 has taken the fun out of overthrowing the country. Criminal convictions of Trump, Giuliani, Bannon, and the leaders of the Proud Boys and Three-percenters is the worst thing that can happen to recruitment. So there will soon be the sense for the Q-crowd that it's now or never.
There will be no feeling of deja vu in the next two years. This is totally uncharted territory. It won't be boring.
Nothing grew in the immense shadow Trump cast. Guliani did not wilt, but he got a bit leaky. He did manage to compose a sentence or two without using 9/11. Not anything too sensible or memorable, but at least he quit perseverating. At least Trump did not assemble a mob and a noose for him like he did Pence. That is kind of the wrong way to be the wind beneath someone's political wings. Lindsey Graham got a few lime-lights while in the big shadow, but not enough to foster any political growth.
At this point the only hope for the party is a second coming of Bob Dole. At this point he might be the right guy at the right time if only…
*perservate – to repeat continuously
Kudos to anyone who causes me to have to check the meaning of a word they use!
"At this point the only hope for the party is a second coming of Bob Dole." Ha. That or Calvin Coolidge. I wonder if the GOP will survive.
In 2008 Giuliani should have run on banning fireworks in Queens when he was mayor which made it possible to sleep through the night.
That and banning ferrets. Rudy hates ferrets.
I used to call them the "pro-covid" faction, but then they sided with flu and the measles, so now I call them "pro-virus".
By the way, I am intrigued by talk of a right wing "media ecosystem". Ecosystems generally have predators and prey. Who are the predators and who is their prey?
Instead of predators and prey think grifters and marks. Does this help?