As Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ profile as a viable GOP presidential front-runner continues to grow, former President Donald Trump is back in the public eye and on an early ‘campaign trail’ of sorts, making public appearances perhaps earlier than he would prefer in order to – I’m guessing – throw his weight around a bit and remind everyone in the party that he’s still the Alpha dog.
Given recent events, it’s not a bad idea. After all, DeSantis is and has been out there virtually every day creating accomplishments in his state that conservatives can only dream of nationwide, and a recent 2024 straw poll actually had the Florida governor slightly ahead of the former president. If Trump has any desire at all to run again, he likely knows he can’t stay out of the headlines too long.
Though he did tell Fox News host Sean Hannity last week that the decision about whether to take another shot at the presidency in 2024 at the ripe old age of 78 had already been privately made, the former president coyly neglected to make that decision public. Yes, it’s way early in the game for presidential declarations, even from the likes of Donald Trump, but given the fact that this single decision will mean the difference between a real GOP primary, where candidates and ideas are tested against each other and (hopefully) the cream rises to the top, and another unopposed primary coronation, the sooner everyone knows, the better.
If you read this column regularly, you may know where I stand on this issue. He probably won’t, but I think it’s time for Donald Trump to pass the torch to someone with all (or most) of his positives and none (or not so many) of his negatives. Someone younger. Someone fresher. Someone who could serve two terms. Someone who doesn’t expand the Democratic voting base simply by his presence on the ballot.
Though waltzing virtually unopposed through a GOP primary would be easy, a general election victory seems next to impossible at this point. No matter how much Donald Trump and his staunchest supporters would like to resurrect the salad days of 2016’s legendary victory and 2020 before disaster struck – the raucous crowds, electrifying speeches, and riveting energy – 2024 will undoubtedly present a vastly different political landscape. And despite his many accomplishments, memories countless voters will have of the Trump presidency will, unfortunately, revolve around two unfortunate things – the January 6, 2021 “insurrection” (no, it wasn’t an “insurrection,” but you and I both know that’s how Democrats and the media have and will continue to play it), and what’s increasingly become MY primary beef with the former president – America’s disastrous response to COVID-19.
Now, by “disastrous response,” I’m obviously not talking about the media’s narrative that we should have locked down earlier and longer or masked up ‘harrrderrrrrr.’ None of those things made things better over the long haul, and strong arguments can be made that they actually made things worse. No, what made the former president’s response to COVID-19 so disastrous wasn’t that he was too lax with useless non-pharmaceutical interventions like lockdowns, business closures, and forced masking, but rather that he didn’t stand up to the nonsense early on, and as such, as the man at the top, became sadly the founder and first leader of what many of us would later refer to as ‘Covidstan’ (U.S. edition).
Think I’m wrong? Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?
Remember the “15 days to slow the spread” that morphed into 15+ months of hell? Yeah, that started under the Trump administration.
Remember when Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp was widely lambasted by the media for daring to reopen his state in April 2020 when it was profoundly evident to any rational, thinking person that the literal apocalypse was NOT happening? Then-President Trump was among the loudest critics. (If you’ll recall, his exact words were: “too soon.”)
Remember when Dr. Anthony Fauci was elevated to the de facto head of U.S. coronavirus response? Sure, it’s now fashionable on the right to hate Fauci, but do you remember the guy who got this train to hell chugging in the first place, then failed to stop it while he had the chance? Oh, that guy was President Trump.
Remember who made the decision to put Dr. Deborah Birx, the scarfed-queen of the “stylish” face diaper, on the White House coronavirus task force, then permitted her to go galavanting across the country on the public dime encouraging red-state leaders to impose and enforce mask mandates? Who allowed that traveling clown show to happen, huh? The man at the top, that’s who.
Remember when sanctimonious media types kept picking on Trump for not wearing a mask, and instead of making logical, rational arguments against it, he buckled and relented? He knew better, but he did it anyway, leaving the rest of us to fight that fight without him.
Remember Dr. Robert “Masks Are As Good As A Vaccine, Or Something” Redfield, the former fried chicken king who somehow became head of the Centers for Disease Control who should have been unceremoniously yanked from his position immediately after making that ridiculous statement, but instead was allowed to continue his buffoonery generally unopposed? I’ll let you take a wild guess as to who did absolutely nothing about it (hint: his name rhymes with Ronald Crump).
Remember when the former president threw us a bone with Dr. Scott Atlas on the White House coronavirus task force, then gave him zero power and left everyone else in place to undermine him at every turn?
Remember when a U.S. president allowed his agencies to literally forbid landowners from evicting non-paying tenants, thereby subjecting countless investment property owners to foreclosure and financial hardship? The president who allowed that socialistic crap was none other than, well, you know.
Finally (and I know the jury is still somewhat out on this one), remember when almost everyone thought a brand-new mRNA vaccine technology should be brought to the public at waaaarp-speeeed and injected into the veins of every living man, woman, and child in order to stop a virus with a 99.7% survival rate that mostly kills a known subset of the super-old, super-sick, and super-obese? Trump still considers this his grandest accomplishment, but if history ends up judging these vaccines to have been a bad idea, that accomplishment, and what’s left of Trump’s legacy, is toast.
In Trump’s defense, remember all those round-tables the former president hosted where he brought in Team Reality experts like Stanford’s Jay Bhattacharya and Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Martin Kulldorff to discuss the uselessness of lockdowns? LOL Just kidding! That was Ron DeSantis.
I could go on and on, but you get the picture. We can get angry at Democrats for being power-hungry ghouls and taking advantage of COVID for their own evil ends, but like a wolf or a sociopath, they are just doing what comes natural to them. No, our real anger should be reserved for people who were supposed to be our own, people like Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and yes, former President Donald Trump. THEY are the ones who allowed and enabled our God-ordained liberties to be seized based on a trumped-up lie.
If Donald Trump wins the GOP nomination, I would vote for him, just as I’d vote for a trained monkey over anyone with a D beside their name. But I hope it never comes to that point, because the former president’s actions during COVID, particularly his failure to quickly pivot when it became evident things weren’t as Team Apocalypse would have us believe, renders him undeserving of another term.