By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from The Hill July 28, 2022

When thinking about what I call the “tumultuous triad” – former President Trump’s 2020 defeat, the Jan. 6 Capitol attack and the House committee’s investigation – I recalled the book “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” That was a #1 New York Times bestseller by Robert Fulghum published in 1986. Its catchy, relatable title confirmed that adults needed a refresher course on basic human behaviors.

The book famously revisited such rudimentary rules as “Play fair,” “Don’t take things that aren’t yours,” “Share everything,” “Clean up your own mess,” “Don’t hit people” and “Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody,” to name a few.

So how does the “tumultuous triad” relate to Fulghum’s long-forgotten book? The answer is a panoply of despicable behaviors exhibited by top-elected leaders, appointed officials, gangs of violent citizens and White House enablers — whose actions and inactions were testified to or revealed by the Jan. 6 committee.

For example, during the committee’s eight public hearings, Americans heard about possibly illegal activities of powerful presidential advisers before and during the explosive attack on the Capitol. Unfortunately, these men forgot their kindergarten lessons to “play fair” and “share everything.” Most notably, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who cowardly has declined to testify.

Conversely, showcased on the national stage was the courageous and patriotic behavior of the only two Republican Jan. 6 House committee members. While seriously jeopardizing her congressional seat, co-chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R Wyo.) chose to put her oath of office first. She explained why on ABC News, “that we swear under God to the Constitution” means “we cannot embrace and enable a president as dangerous as Donald Trump is.”

Also, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), a war veteran who was once considered a Republican rising star, declined to run for reelection but is dedicated to finding the truth.

The Jan. 6 hearings have showcased “courage” versus “cowardice” — behavioral choices and life lessons to discuss with your children.

Moreover, White House staff who chose courage have testified while potentially trashing promising careers and incurring threats to personal and family safety. Their lives will be impacted forever after working for a president who, then and now, rejects the kindergarten rule “clean up your own mess.” (Coincidentally, star witness Cassidy Hutchison also testified that she literally helped “clean up the mess” after an enraged President Trump had thrown his lunch against the wall.)

Then there is the golden kindergarten rule, “Don’t hit people,” — repeatedly violated when rioters attacked the Capitol police at the building that symbolizes peaceful democracy.

Fortuitously, pre-Jan. 6, numerous state and local officials opted to “play fair” and rejected bullying calls from Trump’s henchmen to change election results. Our nation is grateful for those Americans who played by the rules and did the right thing at tremendous personal and professional costs. So, parents, pass those lessons forward.

The more we learn how close our nation came to a breakdown in the orderly transfer of presidential power – a hallmark of any democracy – the more we must teach our children about the sacred nature of that transfer. They must learn that even if their preferred candidate loses an election, the office of the president must be respected and revered as fundamentally stronger than its temporary occupant. 

Years ago, one of my college professors said, “In our nation, there are no tanks in the streets during presidential inaugurations.” I recalled that remark when former federal judge J. Michael Luttig testified before the Jan. 6 committee. Luttig said, “If [Vice President] Pence obeyed Trump’s plea, [to halt the certification of President Biden’s victory],” the U.S. “would immediately have been plunged into what would have been tantamount to a revolution within a paralyzing constitutional crisis.”

Thankfully, then-Vice President Pence remembered his kindergarten lessons or read Fulghum’s book because on Jan. 6  — while his life was threatened and with chants of hanging – Pence refused to “take things that aren’t yours.” And even though Pence was slated to lose his job, he stood up to the president of the United States, who never learned “don’t hit people” while they are doing their job adhering to the Constitution.

The Jan. 6 House hearings have provided robust evidence that Trump failed to learn another essential kindergarten lesson, “Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody” (or a nation). At least not yet, though it’s doubtful he ever will.

Currently, it’s unknown whether the Department of Justice will charge the highest-level perpetrators who tried to overturn the 2020 election — but smoke signals have begun emanating from the roof. They started last week when Attorney General Merrick Garland emphatically stated, “no person is above the law in this country.”

Then, on July 26, during an NBC News interview, Lester Holt asked Garland, “The indictment of a former president, perhaps candidate for president, would arguably tear the country apart; is that your concern?”   

Garland replied: “We intend to hold everyone, anyone who was criminally responsible for the events surrounding Jan. 6, for any attempt to interfere with the lawful transfer of power from one administration to another, accountable. That’s what we do. We don’t pay any attention to other issues with respect to that.”

And if Garland’s Justice Department finds enough evidence to indict any high-ranking officials who “interfered with the lawful transfer of power” – including a former president – our great nation will continue to stand firm on its constitutional foundation.

But the alternative is painful to fathom. The rule of law when “no person is above the law” will be negated if Donald Trump is not held accountable. It will mean he successfully shredded the Constitution. Consequently, our standing in the world as a beacon of democracy would be incinerated, along with our electoral process.

Then, expect tanks in the streets at future presidential inaugurations, and tell your children it’s time for a new founding document because the original 1788 version will be resting on shifting sand.

Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor and served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.

TAGS ADAM KINZINGER DONALD TRUMP DONALD TRUMP JAN. 6 CAPITOL RIOT JAN. 6 HOUSE COMMITTEE JANUARY 6 RIOTS LIZ CHENEY MARK MEADOWS MERRICK GARLAND


By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from The Hill – July 14, 2022

Last weekend, I received 26 emails from former President Trump or allied organizations with subject lines: “The Great MAGA King,” “Activate my Trump card” and “Brand new Trump hat, ‘Let’s go Brandon.’” Amazingly, I even qualified for “GREAT MAGA KING STATUS” (in red caps) without donating a dime. And remember, the “Great MAGA King” moniker was a gift quote from President Biden, which Trump has royally maximized.

Included in the 26 were “TRUMP WAR” emails with Drudge Report-like red sirens spewing “news” from MAGA-world’s alternative reality. While “TRUMP WAR” calls itself the “#1 Drudge Alternative,” on Tuesday the real Drudge Report’s headlines screamed some real-world reality, “POLL: HALF REPUBLICAN VOTERS ABANDON TRUMP,” and “DESANTIS CONVENES DONORS.”

Then, on cue (no joke), a new Trump email arrived with blazing red caps: “CONGRATULATIONS! YOU WON A FREE TRUMP GIFT” — accompanied by a video of Trump dancing like a chugging choo-choo with clenched fists that I can’t un-see.

If you ask, “Why don’t you unsubscribe?” my answer is, “I have in the past.” However, Team Trump’s emails are like COVID-19 — morphing into new strains and immune to deletion. But I find it instructive to observe this repetitive, juvenile messaging, which is bound to be studied in political communication courses.

Since mid-June, there has been an increase in Team Trump’s fundraising emails after the House Jan. 6 committee began televised hearings. Is that to counter the barrage of devastating Trump-related revelations? And no surprise when on Monday, ABC News reported nearly half a million dollars of Trump PAC funds had gone to pay law firms representing Trump-allied witnesses who had already testified or resisted subpoenas.

Then last week, in my postal mailbox was an official-looking white envelope from “President Donald J. Trump.” Inside, his name and title were prominently displayed on the letterhead but without a faux presidential seal. It turned out the “Dear Fellow Patriot” fundraising letter was from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, an arm of the Republican National Committee. And with Trump as their frontman, what could possibly go wrong in swing states where the GOP must win seats to control the Senate?

With Trump haunting my emails and snail mail, the explosive Jan. 6 committee hearings and polls showing 61 percent of Americans against the former president making another White House run, a “Ready for Ron” PAC — as in Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — caught my attention.  

According to the Ready for Ron committee’s news release, its purpose is “to encourage Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to run for President of the United States.” (Does the uber-ambitious 43-year-old governor need encouragement?)

The familiar GOP name co-chairing Ready for Ron is Ed Rollins, the veteran Republican operative who was campaign chairman of President Reagan’s 1984 landslide. Rollins also chaired Great America PAC, which spent $26 million supporting Trump in 2016 but less than $10 million in 2020.

Thus, is Rollins “ready” to trade in the MAGA King for a younger model? Maybe, but meanwhile, he brilliantly triangulates the GOP’s past, present and future. Let’s examine the strategy:

Ready for Ron’s only page is headlined, “DRAFT DESANTIS FOR PRESIDENT: SIGN THE PETITION” followed by a paragraph that reads, in part:

“The America-First agenda MUST be revived. Governor Ron DeSantis is the next great American president — like Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump — who will turn our country around.” This is followed by a video that boldly and unabashedly brands DeSantis as the new “freedom-fighting President Reagan.”

Indeed, DeSantis is a rising national star and on track to win reelection. Nevertheless, Ready for Ron risks drawing attention to the sentiment expressed by Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) — the governor’s likely general election opponent — who said, “DeSantis sees Florida as his political launching pad, I see it as my home.”

Similarly, a new anti-DeSantis group, DeSantisWatch, states in its first video, “The people of Florida are nothing but a stepping stone for DeSantis’ ambition for higher office.”

However, a DeSantis win would signal that Florida voters support his ambition to become the first U.S. president who is a native-born Floridian. But then, what would be his timing for a presidential announcement? Look to Texas Gov. George W. Bush in 1998 after he was reelected with 68.2 percent of the vote. Bush waited seven months before making his 2000 presidential announcement in June 1999. So watch DeSantis’s June 2023 schedule if he is overwhelmingly reelected, at which point Ed Rollins should send a defibrillator to the MAGA King.

Speaking of the former president, ultimately, Ready for Ron means the Don is “Ready for Retirement.” But how will Trump — with his hyperactive email communications and president-titled Republican Party mailings — be dethroned without a “Game of Thrones”-style blood bath?

The answer could be “royal adoration,” as illustrated in Rollins’s quote from the Ready for Ron press release: “The era of President Trump was wonderful, but now, since he isn’t currently running, we must get ready for a new leader, we must be Ready For Ron.” Combined with the previously mentioned statement, “DeSantis would be a great American president — like Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump,” is the royal adoration translation: “Hey Don, you got your GOP gold-plated legacy, now anoint your successor and go play golf.”

Upon reaching out to Ready for Ron, I asked what happens if Trump runs. Do they fight or surrender? In an email, Lilian Rodriguez-Baz, the PAC’s co-chair and chief legal counsel, answered:

“We are specifically choosing to avoid participating in the endless speculation and hypotheticals for the 2024 race. Our focus is building up grassroots momentum for Ron DeSantis so that he can carry the America First agenda forward.” 

Moving “forward” with the “America First agenda” while the MAGA founder is crazy-glued to the GOP throne means Ready for Ron and Gov. Ron are royally careening toward an uncivil Trump-style war.

However, the most potentially significant intervening variable in modern political history is if Attorney General Merrick Garland is “ready” to defend the rule of law and bring King Trump to justice for criminal actions relating to Jan. 6, 2021. And then, we all must be ready to expect the unexpected.   

Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor and served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams. TAGS 2024 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION 2024 REPUBLICANS BIDEN CHARLIE CRIST DONALD TRUMP  ED ROLLINS FLORIDA GOVERNOR’S RACE RON DESANTIS RONALD REAGAN


By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from the Hill – June 30, 2022

During the House Jan. 6 committee hearing on June 21, I had a teenage flashback to the 1973 Senate Watergate hearings after hearing the word “cancer” used in a political context. Nearly five decades later, it is likely that millions of Americans have had similar flashbacks since that word was seared into our Watergate memories and is now equated to actions related to Jan. 6, 2021. And for that, we can thank committee member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).

Referencing former President Trump in his opening statement, Schiff said, “The president’s lie was and is a dangerous cancer on the body politic.”

For maximum historical impact, Schiff channeled the bombshell revelation by then-President Nixon’s former White House counsel John Dean during his testimony before the Senate Watergate Committee hearing on June 25, 1973. After being granted immunity, Dean recounted what he told Nixon in March 1973: “I began by telling the president that there was a cancer growing on the presidency, and if the cancer was not removed, the president himself would be killed by it.”

Forty-nine years later, could there be instructions for moving our nation beyond Trump by connecting Schiff’s “cancer on the body politic” with Dean’s “cancer growing on the presidency”? Yes, but first, some background.

While coming of age during the Watergate scandal, I believed that whatever crimes Nixon or his staff had committed, truth would prevail, perpetrators would be punished, our democracy would stay strong and our nation would move ahead.  

The “cancer growing on the presidency” stemmed from wide-ranging attempts to cover up a bungled burglary inside the Watergate building headquarters of the Democratic National Committee on June 17, 1972. The men arrested were connected to Nixon’s Committee to Re-elect the President, aptly called CREEP.

Over two years, the cover-up metastasized, later revealing how Nixon illegally mobilized the FBI, CIA and IRS as political weapons against his enemies. Ultimately, on Aug. 8, 1974, Nixon resigned rather than face certain impeachment, conviction and removal from office for obstruction of justice, abuse of power and contempt of Congress.

Remember the Watergate outcome: 69 of Nixon’s henchmen were indicted, with 48 sent to jail, including the White House chief of staff and the attorney general; John Dean received just four months. Then, national outrage erupted when President Ford pardoned Nixon on Sept. 8, 1974. But years later, the pardon was characterized as a positive move for the nation.

Currently, Schiff’s description of Trump as unleashing a “cancer on the body politic” — the totality of all Americans — appears more egregious than any of Nixon’s crimes. If Trump’s actions go unpunished, they institutionally threaten our democracy, security and electoral system. Speaking for the Jan. 6 committee, Schiff said, “If you can convince Americans that they cannot trust their own elections, that any time they lose it is somehow illegitimate, then what is left but violence to determine who should govern.” 

The mounting evidence of witnesses’ explosive testimony, including Cassidy Hutchinson’s (who appears to be the new John Dean), was summarized last week by Schiff: “President Trump and his campaign were directly involved in advancing and coordinating the plot to replace legitimate Biden electors with fake electors not chosen by the voters.” 

All that culminated in a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, preceded by Trump continually pressuring Vice President Mike Pence to commit an illegal act to keep himself in power. Trump’s actions stained the hallmark of American democracy — a smooth transition of power — dutifully followed by every president until the 45th attempted to subvert this revered constitutional order.

So what are the Watergate-learned instructions for moving our nation forward?

Attorney General Merrick Garland must fearlessly prosecute Trump and the Trump aides and elected members of Congress who assisted him in trying to undermine our democracy.

But every step Garland takes or chooses not to take is fraught with harrowing political risks that could alter the course of American history. If Garland’s Department of Justice decides to indict former President Trump, his ensuing trial could, and likely will, shred the cloth of a nation with split seams. Violent outbreaks could erupt, possibly fueled by Trump encouraging millions of his armed supporters to stand up.

Moreover, don’t put it past Trump to take preemptive measures shortly before or during prosecution by announcing that he is running for president in 2024 — making Garland’s actions appear more politically daunting.

Yet Garland not prosecuting Trump would be equally horrific. Our justice system must not fear punishing a former president who violently tried to cling to power and might have succeeded if not for well-positioned heroes at every level of government who stood up to Trump and bravely said “no.”

What follows is a multipart compromise based partly on Watergate:

First, Garland must prosecute and potentially convict all of the Trump underlings who assisted his illegal efforts, including members of Congress who asked for pardons.

Second, Trump must be indicted for crimes against the United States (or whatever is the appropriate legal language). At the same time, the Justice Department should make a concerted effort to educate the public about the overwhelming evidence for his conviction.

Third, before Trump heads to trial, Garland should offer him a compromise that avoids trial but precludes Trump from running for or holding public office. The compromise would include Trump making a live public statement apologizing to the American people for perpetuating lies about his election victory, the attempted overthrow and all the events related to Jan. 6, 2021.

Indicting Trump but avoiding a Trump trial is in our nation’s best interests. Nonetheless, the former president must be held accountable so America can move ahead and secure the integrity of future presidential elections.

“We need to get back to the solemn business of preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States and the United States of America,” said retired federal Judge J. Michael Luttig during his recent Jan. 6 committee testimony.

If not, our nation can expect chaos no matter which party wins in 2024.

Through the filter of history, Watergate is often associated with Nixon infamously saying, “I am not a crook.” And someday, Trump might one-up Nixon with this potential one-line zinger: “I did not stage a coup.”


By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from The Hill on June 16, 2022

Before presidential candidates make their official announcement, they must be confident that their spouse is equally enthusiastic, supportive and strapped in for a wild ride. 

Now consider Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), whose wife Casey is said to be emboldening his 2024 White House ambition five months before his (presumed) reelection as governor. That soft bombshell was recently dropped in a Washington Post piece headlined: “The shadow race is underway for the Republican presidential nomination.”

The Post reported, “DeSantis’s wife, Casey, a former television host and among a small circle of confidants, wants him to run for president.” It’s newsworthy only because Florida’s first lady wields tremendous power as the governor’s most influential adviser.

Polished and articulate, Casey DeSantis, age 42, is camera-ready from her Emmy award-winning television career — envisioning her current title on the nation’s most prestigious set. Casey’s private encouragement of her husband, now publicly revealed, helps us answer “yes” to the second most-asked question in the 2024 GOP stratosphere: “Will DeSantis run if Trump runs?” (Naturally, “Will Trump run?” is first.)

While ambition fuels the DeSantis’s White House dreams, their timing is prudent and politically justified, as the Post explained:

“The couple believes that the governor’s skills are uniquely matched to the current political climate, and are wary of waiting six years, by which time the tides may have shifted. DeSantis has not indicated if he would defer a campaign if Trump runs.”

DeSantis’s refusal to rule out running against the former president is a long-time bone of contention, reportedly sparking Trump’s “souring” on the 43-year-old governor. With elections approaching, the widely predicted Trump v. DeSantis war of oversized egos is about to go nuclear. So, imagine Trump’s fury after reading the Post’s quote that DeSantis “has told donors ‘No one’s nomination is inevitable.’” Advantage: DeSantis.

That same political truth applies to “No one’s victory is inevitable.” However, match-up polls with the governor’s likely opponent, Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), are impressive. And again, Trump’s ire was raised when the Post revealed DeSantis’s reelection goal:

“Beating Trump’s 2020 margin of three percentage points in Florida has become a key campaign goal, according to three people familiar with the conversations.” (Those same unnamed “three people” revealed Mrs. DeSantis is cheerleading his presidential run.)

Remember, three percentage points is a quantum leap from when DeSantis was elected governor in 2018 with a 0.4 percentage point victory over Democrat Andrew Gillum. Furthermore, if DeSantis is reelected by at least three points, he wins national bragging rights, including the right to drive Trump ballistic. Whereas winning by five points would be a “Florida landslide,” catapulting DeSantis to “frontrunner” status.  

Florida’s close races are legendary. The last time a gubernatorial election was won by a margin greater than 1.2 percentage points was in 2006. Ironically, the Republican victor was none other than Charlie Crist, then a Republican, who defeated his Democratic opponent by 7.1 percentage points.

Then in 2014, Crist, as the Democrat nominee for governor, lost to incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott by one percentage point. Hence, since 1998 – after a string of consecutively elected GOP governors – Crist might be the Democratic nominee best suited to thwart DeSantis’s reelection and future Oval Office occupation. But don’t bet on that.

DeSantis, with a 56 percent job approval rating and 38 percent disapproval, is beloved by many Florida Republicans, who assume he’ll become “President DeSantis.” His campaign war chest of $124 million overflows since 42 billionaires from 15 states have opened their wallets with expectations beyond Florida. Even Elon Musk is a fan.

All eyes are watching whether Trump will graciously support and campaign with his home state governor. Or is Trump “taking aim” and “spooked” by DeSantis, as reported this week in Rolling Stone?:

“Donald Trump in recent months has been telling confidants that he may launch his 2024 presidential campaign early — and that he’s considering launching it in Florida to stick it to Gov. Ron DeSantis.” Here is why:

DeSantis’s increasingly frequent fundraising emails emulate Trump’s MAGA-base branding, with the governor wrapping himself in the message mantle of Trumpism without mentioning Trump.  

Recall the Washington Post’s quote: “The couple believes that the governor’s skills are uniquely matched to the current political climate.” That “political climate” is fear of national decline — which Gov. DeSantis has operationalized with his confrontational fight-fight Trump-inspired governing style that the left calls “authoritarian.”  

Here is a preview of DeSantis’s 2024 presidential message doubling as his gubernatorial reelection campaign quoted from recently received emails:

“Our country is currently facing a great threat. A new enemy has emerged from the shadows that seeks to destroy and intimidate their way to a transformed state, and country, that you and I would hardly recognize.”

“This enemy is the radical vigilante woke mob that will steamroll anything and anyone in their way. Their blatant attacks on the American way of life are clear and intensifying: stifling dissent, public shaming, rampant violence, and a perverted version of history. “

“I am choosing to counter this enemy with faith, with reason, and with freedom. As Governor of the Free State of Florida, I have chosen to lead with a vision that builds America up rather than tears it down.”

[Time to…] “fight for the rights you know were given to man by God Himself – the time is now.”

“I promise you; I will never stop fighting.”

Gov. DeSantis’s fighting message, more articulate than Trump’s, is gaining traction. Meanwhile, Predictit, the popular online betting prediction platform, has him edging ahead of Trump for the GOP nomination.  

Casey DeSantis is also a fighter. She recently beat breast cancer with “six rounds of chemotherapy, a surgery, six weeks of radiation” and reentered the campaign trail last month. Fox News reported what Florida’s first lady told the crowd:

[When] “you feel like your back is against the wall, fight! Fight like hell!”

“Never ever give up, never ever back down.”

“I am the testament that God is great, that God is good, and hope is alive.”

Her father told her, “‘Casey, have faith and don’t let the bastards win.’”

That could be DeSantis’s campaign mantra.


By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from The Hill on June 2, 2022

Whenever two or more politically active people engage in conversation, invariably someone asks, “Will Donald Trump run in 2024?”

My standard answer is always “I have no idea” — until last week when Trump’s much-ballyhooed vendetta campaigns to defeat Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger ended in embarrassing anti-Trump failures. 

Reportedly, Trump was “stunned” by the results and headlines such as The Washington Post’s “Trump rebuked with stinging losses in Georgia GOP contests.” But they’re not surprising since the former president’s primary challengers — former Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) — were Trump stand-ins specifically chosen to promote the “Big Lie” — his perpetual mantra about the “stolen” 2020 election.

Trump’s repudiation in Georgia has Republicans speculating about his declining kingmaking powers, openly defying him as he loses his “vise-like grip on the party” and potentially endangering his front-runner status. So, circling back to the most-asked question, my new answer is “Trump won’t run in 2024” — based on personality traits rooted in the words “fear” and “fight.” 

We begin with “fear,” indirectly drilled into young Donald Trump’s psyche by Fred, his authoritarian father, who demanded that his son always win and show strength but never weakness. Fred taught Donald that he could lie or twist the truth but never back down. Consequently, Trump developed an unnatural fear of losing or being called “a loser.”

Those grueling family dynamics were chronicled in Mary Trump’s book “Too Much and Never Enough,” subtitled “How my family created the world’s most dangerous man.” Donald Trump’s niece is a Ph.D. clinical psychologist whose best-seller was published in July 2020. Then, during a television appearance on Dec. 3, 2020, Mary explained, “It’s impossible for Trump to believe that he lost the election.”

That inability is why Trump can’t let go of 2020 and will tease a 2024 run for as long as possible. But, ultimately, Trump’s fear of losing is likely stronger than his willingness to take the risk. Moreover, during a second reelection campaign, the former president would be hard-pressed to use the same predictive excuse first heralded in a May 25, 2020, Politico headline: “Trump sees a ‘rigged election’ ahead. Democrats see a constitutional crisis in the making.”

And again, on Aug. 17, 2020, a Hill headline quoted the president’s losing rationale: “Trump: ‘The only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.’” 

Then, amazingly, on Tuesday, Trump activated his go-to playbook, writing his followers, “ICYMI: ‘Something Stinks In Georgia,’” explaining why his nemesis, Gov. Brian Kemp, won 73.7 percent of the primary vote. Stay tuned for that explosion.

Furthermore, Trump’s fear of running and losing reelection a second time is not assuaged by presidential history. In 1892, Grover Cleveland was the first and only former president to win the office nonconsecutively. But there is a striking political difference between Trump and Cleveland’s win-loss record.

Cleveland, a Democrat, was first elected in 1884 after winning the popular vote and Electoral College. In his 1888 reelection defeat, Cleveland lost the Electoral College but still won the popular vote. Then in his second reelection campaign, Cleveland won the Electoral College and the popular vote for the third time. By comparison, Trump has never won the popular vote — a fact that must haunt his ego and heighten his fear of 2024.

And now, since I don’t believe that Trump will run again, it’s a good time to solicit Roger Stone’s opinion. Stone, a colorful political operative, is Trump’s longtime consultant and confidant who received a presidential pardon in 2020. In a text message, he wrote:

“I think he [Trump] wants to run, is inclined to run, has not made a decision to run. If he chooses to, I don’t think he could be stopped for the nomination, and I would be for him. This is a precisely accurate reflection of my conversation with him on this topic.”

But between the lines in Stone’s message, I read, “fear.” Why else would Trump have excessively teased his run and still “not made a decision”? Of course, the “Big Tease” has been an effective fundraising platform, banking more than $100 million for Trump’s PACs while solidifying his dual status as king of the GOP and MAGA world. And is there any difference between the two? “Yes,” is the answer that brings us to “fight” — the second word explaining why Trump will not run in 2024.

Usually, the 45th president loves fighting, but fighting for his party’s nomination is now beneath his stature and shows weakness. Thus, King Trump wants and believes he deserves the 2024 crown delivered to his Mar-a-Lago palace on a blue satin pillow.

Meanwhile, a fighting bench is forming with numerous former and current officeholders unlikely to bow to Trump’s crowning demands. Most prominent is former Vice President Mike Pence, who is actively “campaigning” focusing on “the future.”

Meanwhile, in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis’s recent fundraising email was ostensibly for his reelection campaign but packed with poll-tested, red-meat phrases to gin up the national MAGA base without its baggage-laden founder. I firmly believe that the Republican version of “the future” is “Trumpism without Trump” — anticipating the next generation of leadership, and DeSantis, age 43, fits the bill.

To recap: Trump won’t run because he fears losing and does not want to fight for the nomination. But here is why I could be wrong:

I asked Mark McKinnon, the co-host of Showtime’s “The Circus” and the last presidential strategist to win the reelection of a Republican president — George W. Bush in 2004. McKinnon replied:

“Trump will never concede the stage or the spotlight to anyone else unless he’s in prison or a hospital. He’s not licking his wounds, he’s licking his chops. Every defeat is someone else’s fault. Every victory is his alone. The notion that he would simply exit stage left because of some political reality, self-reflection, or awareness flies in the face of everything we’ve learned about him.”  

It is fitting to conclude with a favorite Trump quote: “We’ll see what happens.”  


By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from The Hill on May 19, 2022

America’s national debt is currently $30.4 trillion — an astronomical number confounding most Americans who are more familiar with the word “billion.” Thus, a more relatable calculation is that $30,000 billion equals $30 trillion. And, if our government cared to raise public awareness about this massive debt, the Treasury might consider sending us a monthly “national credit card statement.” For example, the May balance would appear as $30,457,000,000,000 (rounded because it grows by the second), with an asterisk warning about rising interest rate charges that add another $433.8 billion.

Furthermore, the 43 percent of Americans who paid some federal income tax in 2021 might receive their monthly statement printed on gold-tinted paper to highlight their $242,985 share of the debt. But all “citizens” could receive a monthly postcard indicating a more manageable debt share of $91,476. 

All of this data is shown on the U.S. Debt Clock, which I have called the “ticking time bomb of doom” in past writings. Meanwhile, as the ticking grows louder, the debt clock displays troubling vital signs of a nation on an unsustainable economic trajectory. Note that today’s $30.4 trillion in national debt increased by $2.1 trillion from June 2021. At current spending rates, it is projected to reach $41 trillion by 2026.

Now brace yourself for the shocking truth concerning U.S. unfunded liabilities — payments the government owes and promises its citizens without the funds to fulfill those obligations. These payments include Social Security, Medicare Parts A, B and D, federal debt held by the public, plus federal employee and veteran benefits.

When I last wrote about unfunded liabilities in January 2019, the tab was $122 trillion, with a 2023 four-year projection of $157 trillion. Today, only three and a half years later, unfunded liabilities are $169.2 trillion. More astonishing is the 2026 projection of $214.4 trillion.

All Americans should be alarmed by these jaw-dropping numbers, with soaring inflation and rising interest rates part of this broader problem. For decades, our nation has spent and promised more than it can generate through federal tax revenue — currently at $4.2 trillion. Although a vast amount of revenue, it is still a small percentage compared to federal government spending and out-of-control unfunded but promised payments.

Remember when a “balanced budget” used to be among the top issues and goals in Washington? When was the last time you heard any elected official utter that phrase?

Our elected leaders are reluctant to discuss mounting debt and unfunded liabilities because that would force them to make painful decisions about increasing taxes and cutting spending — actions that put them at risk of being voted out of office. And that is why, during this midterm election year, you will not hear federal candidates or incumbents mention the warnings found in an April report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Ominously titled “The Economic Effects of Waiting to Stabilize the Federal Debt,” the report states: “Perpetually rising debt would also increase the likelihood of a fiscal crisis and pose other risks to the U.S. economy.”

To explain those “risks” of “rising debt,” I asked Desmond Lachman, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who specializes in economic issues, for some comments. In an email, he wrote:

“The very high public debt level means that for many years the government will be obliged to dedicate a large amount of its spending to pay interest on its debt. That will leave less money for the government to be spent on other items that might improve public welfare. It will also likely require higher interest rates that will limit investment needed to get the economy to grow more rapidly. In short, by running up the debt, we have mortgaged the economic future of our children and our grandchildren.” 

So far in the 21st century, let’s examine how the national debt has spiraled out of control compared to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

In 2000 the national debt was only $5.7 trillion, and the GDP was $9.5 trillion.

By 2008 that debt had nearly doubled to $10.1 trillion, with GDP at $13.8 trillion.

In 2012 the debt had reached $15.2 trillion — slightly surpassing the $15.1 trillion GDP.  Also significant is that in the 10 years since 2012, the national debt has doubled in size to the previously mentioned $30.4 trillion.

Four years later, in 2016, the national debt rose to $19.5 trillion, starting to drift away from the $18.6 trillion in GDP.

Then in 2020, the COVID-19 economic shutdown, combined with President Trump initially pumping $2.2 trillion into the economy, resulted in the national debt rising to $26.9 trillion, with the GDP lagging at $22.1 trillion.

Today our economy is still recovering, with a growing gap between the $30.4 trillion debt and the $23.6 trillion GDP — yielding a federal debt-to-GDP ratio of 129 percent.

AEI’s Desmond Lachman included a stunning fact in his email comments: “Our debt to GDP ratio now is higher than it was at the end of the Second World War.”

Moreover, the previously mentioned CBO report also warned: “A perpetually rising debt-to-GDP ratio is unsustainable over the long term because financing deficits and servicing the debt would consume an ever-growing proportion of the nation’s income.”

Our leaders in Washington are not leveling with the American people about our economic unsustainability. The CBO report advises that to avoid a fiscal crisis, “debt must be stabilized.” That means the pain of spending cuts in conjunction with raising taxes must be instituted as soon as possible.

Therefore, incumbents and House and Senate candidates who fail to make the national debt crisis a national priority during an election year contribute to this national travesty.


By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from The Hill on April 14, 2022

Former President Trump is the master of confusing mind games. His skill-set was recently showcased in a Daily Mail headline: “Trump, 75 admits his health could stop him running for president in 2024 and says Pence, DeSantis and Mike Pompeo would NOT oppose him in a Republican primary.”

Let’s translate that conflicted two-part headline with direct quotes from Trump’s Washington Post interview published last week.  

Part one – The Excuse: Trump admits holding what can be construed as a “face-saving doctor’s order.” Specifically, the former president said, “‘You always have to talk about health. You look like you’re in good health, but tomorrow, you get a letter from a doctor saying come see me again. That’s not good when they use the word again ’” (Is Trump’s future doctor’s order self-activating when weak knees and irritable bowel syndrome preclude him from engaging in primary fights against his former vice president, former secretary of state or a popular Republican governor from his adopted home state?)

Part two – Intimidation: Trump said, “‘If I ran, I can’t imagine they’d want to run. Some out of loyalty would have had a hard time running. I think that most of those people, and almost every name you mentioned, is there because of me.’” Later in the interview, Trump repeated his usual tease, “‘I don’t want to comment on running, but I think a lot of people are going to be very happy by my decision…because it’s a little boring now.’” 

Only Donald Trump could utter such convoluted messages that potentially forecast a health-related campaign withdrawal while actively discouraging rivals, using “how dare you” psychological guilt tactics questioning their motives and loyalty.

Such a crafty combination leads one to conclude that Trump’s 2024 chief strategist is Sun Tzu, author of “The Art of War.” Tzu, an ancient Chinese general from the 5th century B.C., wrote this classic strategy handbook about defeating your enemies, applicable to any modern high-stakes venture. Thus, is it a mere coincidence that the title of Trump’s 1987 bestselling (ghostwritten) book was “The Art of the Deal”?

Furthermore, Google revealed a 2012 Trump tweet quoting Sun Tzu: “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” And a comparable Sun Tzu quote not tweeted by Trump reads, “The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.”

Currently, both proverbs mirror the mind games and pressure tactics Trump uses to achieve his goal – to be crowned the GOP presidential nominee without opposition – as if he were the incumbent president. Then and ultimately, Trump’s “greatest victory” is to avenge his 2020 election loss that, in his mind, he won.

Here is another Sun Tzu quote embraced by Trump: “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” The former president continuously teases another White House run while refusing to stop speaking about how the 2020 election was stolen. But Trump believes that is what his loyal base and Trump-endorsed candidates still want to hear. Hence, Trump generates chaos for Republicans who want to move ahead while maximizing his opportunity to keep the GOP firmly under his control.

Regarding Trump’s will-he-or-won’t-he 2024 plans, he abides by “The Art of War” quote, “Be extremely subtle even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.”

The former president likely relishes being “the director of the opponent’s fate” when potential 2024 presidential primary candidates discuss their plans while evoking his name, directly or indirectly.

For example, after former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently appeared on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity,” the FoxNews.com headline read, “2024 Watch: Pompeo hints potential presidential run not dependent on what Trump decides.”

Moreover, considering Pompeo’s new book, strategic speaking schedule and fundraising for his “Champion American Values” (CAVPAC), Pompeo must be girding for accusations of “no loyalty” and he is “there because of me” backlash from Trump.

The same goes for Trump’s former vice president, Mike Pence, who unveiled a “Freedom Agenda” that qualifies as a presidential platform through his organization, “Advancing American Freedom.” At his March 31 launch event, Pence fired an indirect but unmistakable tactical missile at Trump’s obsession with the 2020 election, telling reporters, “Elections are about the future. ”

Both Pence and Pompeo, while successfully raising millions of dollars and gearing up for a long primary season, know challenging Trump is risky business. Perhaps they believe that together, Trump does not want to battle them and will activate his doctor’s orders card.

Then, hovering over the two Mike’s is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Besides being a national money magnet, every poll shows that without Trump, DeSantis is more popular than Pence or Pompeo.

Earlier this year, the media spotlight shined on a DeSantis/Trump rivalry. Reportedly, Trump was angry after the governor refused to announce that he would not run against Trump in 2024. Fueling the coverage were Trump’s statements that his 2018 primary and general election gubernatorial endorsements of the young, then-unknown Florida congressman had made Ron’s career. True or not, Trump’s pattern of intimidation was once again on display.

Unofficially, the 2024 presidential campaign begins the day after the midterm elections. And, if Republicans win control of Capitol Hill, that momentum is bound to encourage more primary contenders. Perhaps former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley will jump in, while numerous ambitious Republican senators see the next president in their mirror.

Yet, for Trump, 2016-like numbers of primary opponents are the polar opposite of what he expects — more reasons a crowded primary might prompt the face-saving medical card. But “The Art of Withdrawal” could have a Trumpian twist.

Assuming Trump is healthy enough, a heavy-handed endorsement might influence who wins the nomination due to his legions of primary-voting loyalists. Then, if that nominee wins the White House, Trump could continue saying, “He or she is there because of me.” And from his Mar-a-Lago palace, “The Art of Kingmaking” might be written.

REPOSTED ON THE DRUDGE REPORT: APRIL 14 -15, 2022.


By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from The Hill – March 31, 2022

The prominently displayed message at former President Trump’s recent rallies is “Save America!” Could that be Trump’s 2024 campaign slogan?

More evidence: At the “Save America-President Donald J. Trump” merchandise store, the iconic “Make America Great Again” red ball cap is labeled “classic” and sells for $30, whereas a similarly-styled “Save America” cap costs $35.

Then I browsed the merchandise at Rep. Liz Cheney’s (R-Wyo.) reelection site, Cheney for Wyoming. Only a few lackluster “Team Cheney” branded items are for sale that don’t reflect the congresswoman’s passion as a patriotic leader fighting for truth and justice against Team Trump. But it’s not too late for Team Cheney to inject some passion by expanding Trump’s current slogan to read “Liz Can Save America” on her hats and t-shirts. Then, potentially, sales could explode, along with the blood pressure monitor at Mar-a-Lago.

Our nation needs elected leaders like Cheney who care more about fundamental governing principles that have strengthened and saved America through challenging times, such as preserving democracy, adherence to the rule of law and the smooth transition of power. Cheney embodies these founding principles and shows a willingness to lose power to defend and save America — unlike some colleagues whose highest priority is keeping their seats or pursuing a more powerful title.

After winning Wyoming’s only congressional seat, Cheney took office in Jan. 2017 and quickly earned the reputation as a GOP rising star. By Jan. 2019, she held the No. 3 leadership post — chair of the House Republican Conference. But, a year later, her bright political future turned dark when after the 2020 election, Cheney refused to accept Trump’s repeated lies denying his presidential loss.

Then came the tragic Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021; Cheney was appalled by Trump’s actions. A week later, the House adopted one article of impeachment — incitement of insurrection — with Cheney, one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach President Trump.

Cheney’s reward for bucking her party’s unwillingness to hold Trump accountable for his post-election actions was censure by the Wyoming Republican Party. And political punishment by the national GOP is unabated.

On May 5, 2021 – days before House Republicans voted to remove Cheney from her leadership post — she wrote a thoughtful, passionate, op-ed in the Washington Post. At the time, there had been a drip-drip of nefarious behind-the-scenes information and speculation about the lead-up to Jan. 6, but nothing like the recent deluge of shocking Trump-world communications. Today, Cheney’s year-old warning is more relevant:

“Trump is seeking to unravel critical elements of our constitutional structure that make democracy work — confidence in the result of elections and the rule of law. No other American president has ever done this. The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution.”

That “turning point” turned Liz Cheney into a Republican pariah and even worse when she became vice-chair of the House Jan. 6 Committee on Sept. 2, 2021. When all the facts are revealed in the committee’s final report, perhaps my former party will offer an apology and vindicate the congresswoman — if she still holds office.

“If” because this week at a Washington fundraiser, over 100 House Republicans supported Cheney’s main primary opponent, Harriet Hageman. Self-branded as “Wyoming tough,” Hageman is gleefully endorsed by Trump, who said: “Harriet has my Complete and Total Endorsement in replacing the Democrats number one provider of sound bites, Liz Cheney. Make America Great Again!”

After Cheney voted to impeach, Trump had a vendetta to defeat her and launched personal attacks such as: “To look at her is to despise her.” But Liz Cheney is not defeated. Hageman may be “Wyoming tough,” yet Cheney – battle-hardened in Washington’s trenches – is “Wyoming tougher.”

And tough times are ahead for Trump. Torrents of jaw-dropping headlines drive Liz Cheney and the Jan. 6 committee into overtime.

In a throwback to Watergate, President Nixon’s infamous 18.5-minute gap in the White House taping system is a mere blip after Trump’s White House call records reportedly show a seven-hour gap during the most critical hours on Jan. 6, 2021. Cue the accusations: Cover-up! Conspiracy! Destruction of evidence! Smoking gun! Bob Woodward! Yes, the same Bob Woodward of Watergate fame was bylined along with Robert Costa on the Washington Post after they and CBS News obtained these stunning documents.   

The call-gap news came on the heels of Trump’s former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, invoking “King of Kings” — a common name for Jesus, in a surreal series of text messages with Ginni Thomas — wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Meadows and Mrs. Thomas discussed strategy to keep Trump in power and overturn Biden’s victory. Describing that mission, the president’s most powerful aide told Thomas: “This is a fight of good versus evil. Evil always looks like the victor until the King of Kings triumphs.” (Note to Meadows: Jesus does not overturn presidential elections in a nation founded on democracy with citizens endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…)

Add to that more eye-popping quotes. Days before Mark and Ginni’s Bible study revelations, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) revealed that in September 2021: “President Trump asked me to rescind the 2020 elections, immediately remove Joe Biden from the White House, immediately put President Trump back in the White House, and hold a new special election for the presidency.” More proof of conspiracy?

Furthermore, this week U.S. District Judge David Carter said that he found it “more likely than not” that Trump and legal adviser John Eastman “engaged in criminal conduct.”

As vice-chair of the Jan. 6 Committee, Liz Cheney is a role model helping to save America and keep our nation great by boldly standing for truth. Then in 2024, don’t be surprised if, on a GOP presidential primary debate stage, Cheney faces off against Donald J. Trump.

Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor and served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.TAGS CLARENCE THOMAS CRITICISM OF DONALD TRUMP DONALD J. TRUMP DONALD TRUMP GINNI THOMAS HARRIET HAGEMAN HOUSE JAN. 6 SELECT COMMITTEE JOE BIDEN LIZ CHENEY LIZ CHENEY WYOMING POLITICAL STORM JAN 6 CAPITOL RIOT INSURRECTION COMMISSION REPUBLICAN GOP DIVISION FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTERS BASE MARK MEADOWS MO BROOKS PRESIDENT


By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from The Hill March 17, 2022

Facilitating the loosening of former President Trump’s iron grip on the Republican Party are cumulative sets of actions and statements emanating from spheres of GOP influence. Meanwhile, elected leaders’ fear of Trump backlash and name-calling is diminishing — signaling the post-Trump era has begun. Trump’s unraveling is akin to a “decline by 1,000 cuts.” Let’s examine it.

The players are prospective 2024 presidential candidates, officeholders, the Republican National Committee (RNC), former high-ranking Trump officials, a conservative think tank and a mega-donor kingmaker who owns a jet. 

We begin on March 4 at the RNC’s major donor retreat in New Orleans, attended by former Vice President Mike Pence. His appearance proves that Trump could not prevent Pence from addressing this high-roller crowd. Indirectly, Pence spoke critically of Trump, saying, “There is no room in this party for apologists for Putin. There is only room for champions of freedom.” Pence boldly countered Trump’s earlier praise of the Russian dictator he infamously called “savvy” and a “genius” in the war’s opening days.

Upon leaving the RNC, Pence felt confident because he was embarking on a secret, potentially game-changing trip that could challenge Trump’s supremacy.

On March 5, Trump also spoke at the retreat, generating news that will long be re-quoted. He “joked” that the U.S. should “put the Chinese flag” on F-22 fighter jets and “bomb the shit” out of Russia. You can imagine the audience gasping.

Later that Saturday night (but not reported until March 9),Trump was heading home aboard an unnamed donor’s plane when engine failure forced an emergency landing. The harrowing incident unleashed several news cycles of Trump plane drama.

Suspiciously starting on March 9, Trump supporters received an email solicitation titled “Update: Trump Force One.” It stated, “My team is building a BRAND NEW Trump Force One,” which appeared to be seeking donations.

Then watch Trump’s airspace since he has lost altitude with that previously mentioned “mega-donor kingmaker who owns a jet.” Ironically (also first reported on March 9), Mike Pence had boarded the kingmaker’s jet bound for Israel and later the Ukraine-Poland border.

Here is why Pence’s trip could be perceived as a flashing red signal that the post-Trump era has begun. The plane is owned by Miriam Adelson — widow of Sheldon Adelson — a GOP donor extraordinaire who died in January 2021. Mr. Adelson was a casino empire multibillionaire, a personal friend of Donald Trump and the force behind the American Embassy in Israel moving from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018. By the way, reportedly, the Adelsons contributed $220 million to the Republican Party during the 2020 election cycle.

Continuing her husband’s legacy, earning Miriam Adelson’s support is the political equivalent of winning the Mega Millions lottery. Is Mike Pence the 2024 lottery winner? Watch his airspace.

While in Israel, Mrs. Adelson, Pence and wife Karen prayed over Sheldon’s grave and dined with former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Then the Pences joined Samaritan’s Purse’s refugee relief mission at the Ukraine-Poland border.

Beyond Miriam Adelson’s financial resources, her support for Pence signals that Trump may not be a viable 2024 candidate, and that it may be time to move on.

Years earlier, Trump had been Adelson’s golden boy. On March 13, 2016, a Hill headline read, “Gingrich: Adelson signal is big for Trump.” After Sheldon Adelson publicly endorsed Trump, the “signal” was that Trump had entered the Republican mainstream — worthy of support by GOP elites. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), an early Trump supporter, disseminated the signal. (Note: In 2012, Adelson contributed $20 million to keep Gingrich’s presidential campaign afloat.)

Although Pence was aboard Miriam Adelson’s plane — and is likely a contributor to Pence’s advocacy group’s recent $10 million ad buy against House Democrats — Mrs. Adelson alone can not usher in the post-Trump era.

Suffice it to say, the Russia-Ukraine war has weakened Trump with self-inflicted wound-like statements and his previous anti-NATO stance while emboldening GOP leaders to denounce the twice-impeached former president. Then, on cue, a name-calling bombshell dropped on Saturday night after a Trump rally in South Carolina.

Continuing his feud with Trump, Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.) called the former president “a would-be tyrant.” At the rally, Trump was harder on President Biden than on Putin. Trump’s harshest words for the ruthless dictator were, “He’s driven to put it together. …It [the invasion] should’ve never of happened if he respected our president.”

Also from the House was the recent headline, “McCarthy breaks with Trump on Putin: Russian leader not ‘savvy,’ ‘genius.’” That was uncharacteristically anti-Trump criticism from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Usually, he courts and counts on Trump’s support (dreaming of his future title “House Speaker McCarthy” should the GOP win control of the House in the midterm elections).

In another “cut,” Trump’s social media app “Truth Social” is underperforming and off to a rocky start — even Trump is not an active user. 

And like sharks smelling blood while circling the waters of Mar-a-Lago, there are an increasing number of 2024 anti-Trump presidential candidates who are envisioning a primary challenge. Furthermore, many highly touted Trump-endorsed primary candidates are struggling with fundraising and momentum.

Then last week, in what was a blatant Trump snub, the prestigious conservative American Enterprise Institute did not invite him to its annual World Forum attended by other GOP leaders.

And don’t forget the blow-up with his former Attorney General William Barr, prompting Trump to send a childish name-calling letter to NBC’s Lester Holt after Holt interviewed Barr. The letter is a window into Trump’s mindset.

Besides all the “cuts,” the most severe knife wounds could result from various legal actions pending in New York and Georgia. Most watched will be the House Jan. 6 committee’s conclusions and ultimately whether Attorney General Merrick Garland indicts Trump for criminal conspiracy or defangs the politically explosive matter.

The post-Trump era has been born (though Donald still rocks the cradle).

Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor and served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.

TAGS 2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION RNC DONALD TRUMP PUTIN DONALD TRUMP MIKE PENCE MIRIAM ADELSON BENJAMIN NETANYAHU MERRICK GARLAND KEVIN MCCARTHY NEWT GINGRICH MIKE PENCE JOE BIDEN TOM RICE WILLIAM BARR RIGHT-WING POPULISM IN THE UNITED STATES DONALD TRUMP 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION TRUMPISM


MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor

Last year when writing about the 2022 midterm elections, I spoke with Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Chairman Matt Schlapp, who proclaimed, “If Trump runs again, he is essentially the incumbent.”

Fast forward to last week’s CPAC gathering, where former President Trump practically announced his run for what I call “re-relection,” boasting, “We did it twice. And we’ll do it again.”

CPAC’s straw poll results confirmed Trump’s predominance for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination among the 2,500 Trump-loyal attendees who voted. Even though he was twice-impeached and twice lost the popular vote, Trump won 59 percent at CPAC — more than double the 28 percent of votes earned by his closest competitor, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

During that September conversation with Schlapp, I asked the influential CPAC leader if he thought “Trump would have primary opposition or be crowned the nominee without a fight” Schlapp’s answer was politically sound:

“I think Trump will have primary opponents, a lane of never-Trump, and I don’t know how many there will be. President Trump should want these opponents because he is much better in the ring when competing against somebody. I don’t know if I can see him just getting coronated. I don’t know how he would react to that — he is so used to fighting! But Trump will be a better candidate if he has to take someone on immediately. I believe primaries can be a good thing.”

Yes, presidential primaries have always been a “good thing” because sometimes leading candidates don’t filter well when running through strainers.

However, if Trump is “essentially the incumbent,” who wants to risk their political career and party standing by angering a cult-like base of Trump worshippers? Who will be brave enough to get in the ring and bloody the nose of the world’s heavyweight bully? Are any prominent Republican leaders willing to “primary” Trump — if only to prevent him from arguing that primaries are a waste of time and money and should be canceled?

May I suggest someone absent from CPAC and their 2024 presidential candidate straw poll? His name is Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.). Who? If you are unfamiliar with Thune, he is the minority whip and second-ranking GOP senator strongly allied with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Popular among his colleagues, Thune is a potential successor to McConnell — if, at age 80, McConnell retires before his term ends in January 2027.

What follows is the political rationale for Thune 2024 — even though he is virtually unknown to most Republicans and Americans. Let’s begin with Thune’s historic Senate election. 

From Jan. 3, 1995, until Jan. 3, 2005, Senate Democrats were led by a Washington powerhouse from South Dakota named Tom Daschle. Sen. Daschle ruled as either minority or majority leader. By 2004, a half-century had passed since a Senate leader of either party had been defeated by his home-state voters. More reason why Republicans rejoiced on Nov. 2, 2004, when Daschle was defeated by John Thune, a former three-term congressman. Sen. Thune was welcomed to the Senate as a rising star and giant-slaying hero. Moreover, at 6’4” and ruggedly handsome, Thune ranked #9 on The Hill’s 2005 “Most Beautiful People” list.

Today, Sen. Thune ranks first on the “list” of most powerful but nationally unknown Senate Republican leaders. That is quite a feat at a time when senators work overtime spewing nonsense to increase their social media following and cable TV bookings. And double overtime when up for reelection — as Thune is for his fourth term in November. Nonetheless, Thune should cruise to victory according to his solid red ranking on the Cook Political Report.

In part, the answer to why Thune should contest Trump is attributed to legendary baseball manager Yogi Berra: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” My former party is at that fork, stuck in Trump’s mud. Therefore, if willing, Thune could be a compromise candidate able to attract long-time GOP voters like me back into the party to imagine a future without Trump. As a Senate leader, he understands the potential insanity of a Trump run and is deaf to the bullying.

For example, in December 2020, when Trump’s loyal GOP House and Senate members were planning to overturn the Electoral College, Thune said, “it would go down like a shot dog.” On cue, Trump resorted to name-calling on Twitter threatening Senate Minority Whip Thune, writing: “RINO [Republican In Name Only] John Thune, ‘Mitch’s boy,’ should just let it play out. South Dakota doesn’t like weakness. He will be primaried in 2022, political career over!!!” Thune ignored the president’s rant.

Thune could brand himself as a “post-Trump era, no drama” Republican presidential candidate who knows his way around Capitol Hill from his Senate leadership perch. Just imagine Thune with Trump on a primary debate stage. The senator could offer primary voters a safe, knowledgeable alternative to a legally-challenged, reelection sore loser who threatened our democratic system but still controls the GOP through fear and intimidation.

Moreover, Thune could remind the public why Joe Biden defeated Trump in 2020 — the promise of a return to normalcy without the daily upheaval. Although Biden is unpopular, if Trump is careening toward the nomination, Thune might craft a campaign message based on electing the GOP version of a stable, experienced adult.

Thune speaks out against Trump but only in small doses and usually in a group of GOP senators. On Tuesday, Leader McConnell and Sen. Thune were out front pushing back hard on Trump’s praise of Putin while voicing support for Ukraine and NATO.  

Unlike Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Thune is not the Senate’s anti-Trump, go-to-media-man — a smart move befitting what could be a political rationale not to alienate Trump supporters who may be seeking an off-ramp.

For the early lead-up to the 2024 presidential campaign, Thune is off-stage, avoiding taking “the fork in the road.” But if Republicans want an even-keeled, no-nonsense, well-versed, conservative leader to stop Trump, John Thune might offer a path through the fork. And remember, never underestimate a man who earned his Senate seat by toppling a Washington giant. Like Trump, Thune knows how to fight.

Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor and served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.

TAGS JOHN THUNE TRUMP TOM DASCHLE MITCH MCCONNELL RON DESANTIS DONALD TRUMP MITT ROMNEY JOE BIDEN RIGHT-WING POPULISM IN THE UNITED STATES NEVER TRUMP MOVEMENT TRUMPISM 2024 GOP PRIMARY