How Trump can win again: Become the calm, moderate candidate
The political scene is evolving so quickly that I presume to offer some advice to President Trump: He can now win in 2024 by being the potential candidate of calm and moderation.
The Democrats have become a Babel of contending extremists, suddenly and implausibly blaming the Republicans for defunding police forces and miraculously discovering the virtues of voter identification, after having denounced it for six months as the resurrection of Jim Crow. The utter moral bankruptcy of many elected Democrats was captured in the Texas state legislators fleeing the state in private planes, excitedly taking selfies of themselves unmasked and grinning, to avoid being compelled by law to make a quorum in the state legislature and pass judgment on a voting reform measure.
Things are not altogether more settled on the other side, however. There are a number of prominent Republicans who are clearly qualified to be president, including Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and former Vice President Mike Pence. Yet Trump effortlessly prevailed over both of them and every other listed contender in a recent CPAC poll of potential candidates for president in 2024. The uncharacteristically incautious comments of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that, in effect, the dreadful Trump specter had passed and they could all go back to being the good-natured losers of the Bush-McCain-Romney eras was effectively retracted within a few days. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) has disgraced herself by joining the Trump-hate operation of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and, in Republican terms, is sinking without a ripple as a consequence.
Meanwhile, with the political left’s Supreme Court-packing threat appearing to fade, the court’s justices have blown away the Democrats’ plan to assure their own permanent incumbency through unverifiable ballot-harvesting.
Thus far, the one great accomplishment of the Biden administration, apart from a rising stock market, has been the reduced decibel level of the Biden White House — something gratefully appreciated by many Americans. The constant tumult of the Trump years grated on almost everyone, although Trump’s assailants often were equally, if not chiefly, responsible for the clangorous quality of those years.
But the increasing concern about the human wave of illegal immigration across the southern border, about sharply rising rates of violent crime and inflation, will soon attract the interest of even the most slavishly anti-Trump media, however tepidly. And Democrats already are showing their nervousness over those and other foreboding prospects.
The long-promised indictments of the former president have dwindled down to an absurd charge of evading taxes on corporate perks against the financial vice president of the Trump Organization — a man who was treated to an old time “perp walk” like the late organized-crime boss John Gotti, even though such charges are almost never treated as criminal cases.
While the Democrats’ pseudo-legal harassment of Trump — the Russia collusion fraud, the two spurious impeachments, the hysterical COVID-19 smears (replete with early charges that no vaccine developed under Trump’s auspices could be trusted), the accusations of him instigating an organized, heavily armed insurrection by his supporters at the Capitol on Jan. 6 — continues, it has spiraled down to Speaker Pelosi’s pathetic commission with Rep. Cheney as a sorceress’s apprentice. They will make a last political stand to try turning the hooliganism at the Capitol into something on the scale of Pearl Harbor or 9/11, as suggested by many in politics and the media.
The fact that the former president has come through all of this is a great personal victory and a true wonder of political staying power.
Now, as time passes, the public irritation with Trump’s bombastic behavior, of his being in the nation’s face day and night for four years, will recede and gradually be replaced by the spectacle of a comatose Biden administration, floundering and dissembling, fecklessly struggling with the various crises it has created. There will be, soon enough, nostalgia for Trump instead — and if he is wise, he can become a winning figure of comparative Olympian serenity.
Conrad Black is an essayist and author of 10 books, including three on Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Richard Nixon and Donald Trump. He co-hosts the “Scholars & Sense” podcast with former Education Secretary Bill Bennett and Hoover Institution scholar Victor Davis Hanson. Follow him on Twitter @ConradMBlack.