Feehery: The honest contrarian

My father, Jack, who died around the Thanksgiving holidays six years ago, was a political contrarian. He died just as Donald Trump was starting to become a serious contender for the Republican nomination for the White House; by the end of his life, he had grown so disillusioned with the political class that he might have supported Trump, although we never talked about the possibility of Trump becoming president.

Dad was honest to a fault and, in truth, liked to be a contrarian on most things. If a different side could be found, he would seek it out, understand it, and then make the case for it. (I like to think that I inherited some of his qualities.) He was born on the South Side of Chicago to an Irish Catholic family. And so, when he voted for Richard Nixon over Jack Kennedy in 1960, he was taking the path not commonly taken in his neighborhood. 

By 1972, though, he had seen enough of Watergate to vote against Nixon’s reelection — which, in retrospect, was not a very good vote. It was never a good time to vote for George McGovern. 

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I voted for Trump in 2016, despite being labelled a “never-Trumper” by Breitbart in the aftermath of the election. I was a “never-Cruzer,” but never a “never-Trumper.” Back then, I thought Trump was the best chance we had to blow up the political establishment, strike a blow against political correctness, get the economy moving again, and keep us out of endlessly stupid wars. 

I liked much of what Trump did as president and I wasn’t bothered by his tweets, which I thought were political theater designed to light the lamestream media on fire. The economy predictably roared, we avoided getting ourselves entangled in more wars, our allies were forced to pay more for their own protection, and we were well on our way to making America great again. 

And then COVID-19 hit us, and all that progress disappeared.

Two things have me looking for a new nominee in 2024: how Trump handled COVID-19, and how he handled his loss in the 2020 election.

The biggest single bad decision that Donald Trump made as president was taking two weeks to shut down the economy to slow the curve. Keeping National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases chief Dr. Anthony FauciAnthony FauciThree omicron cases of COVID-19 identified in Maryland: Gov. Hogan FDA eyes rapid review for omicron vaccines, drugs: report Fauci calls out Fox News for letting host compare him to Nazi doctor: 'Astounded' MORE and Dr. Deborah BirxDeborah BirxFeehery: The honest contrarian Documents reveal new details of Trump political interference in COVID-19 response The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats insist budget consensus close as talks drag on MORE, two long-time government bureaucrats, in place to manage the fallout from that singularly horrible decision, was almost as bad. 

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Hindsight is 20/20 of course, but I believe President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — State Dept. employees targets of spyware Ohio Republican Party meeting ends abruptly over anti-DeWine protesters Jan. 6 panel faces new test as first witness pleads the Fifth MORE’s inattention to detail, his deference to government bureaucrats, his inability to come up with a federal strategy and his shoot-from-the-hip press strategy all led to his downfall. Instead of investing resources to expand permanent hospital capacity and find life-saving treatments, we have rushed through a vaccine that may or may not work as well as advertised. The divisive mask mandates and vaccine mandates that have flowed from the Biden administration are a direct result of the incompetence of the Trump administration. 

Equally bad was Trump’s reaction to the 2020 election results. Instead of gracefully handing over power and plotting his comeback, he reacted badly. He relied on the advice of crackpot lawyers who came up with crackpot conspiracies. He inspired common citizens to storm the Capitol, with many of them now rotting in D.C.’s harsh prisons. He seemed to purposefully throw two Georgia elections to the Democrats, and now Senate Majority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerHospitals in underserved communities face huge cuts in reckless 'Build Back Better' plan GOP infighting takes stupid to a whole new level Progressive groups urge Schumer to prevent further cuts to T plan MORE (D-N.Y.) gets to promote cutting taxes for his rich friends and raising inflation on everybody else.

I am not sure what my dad would have said about Trump, had the Parkinson’s disease not taken him away from us six years ago. But I know what I am going to say now: We need some new blood for the next election. Trump did many things right, but what he did wrong means we need a new nominee for the White House in 2024.

John Feehery is a partner at EFB Advocacy and blogs at www.thefeeherytheory.com. He served as spokesman to former House Speaker Dennis HastertJohn (Dennis) Dennis HastertFeehery: Why Democrats are now historically unpopular Feehery: The honest contrarian Feehery: The next Republican wave is coming MORE (R-Ill.), as communications director to former House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas), and as a speechwriter to former House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Ill.).