It is still nearly a year before any of the primaries for the 2024 Republican nomination for president. But that hasn’t stopped Donald Trump from engaging in the sort of dirty campaign tactics that have been the hallmarks of his political life. Trump has a “burn all bridges” approach to electoral politics, and he has started his rhetorical bombardment unusually early.
The principle recipient of Trump’s wrath has been Ron DeSantis. The Florida governor is currently the only credible opponent in the GOP field, and even in his case, the term “credible” is generous. Trump has been lashing out at DeSantis with criticisms of his failed stewardship of Florida (which is hard to argue with). He accuses DeSantis of seeking to cut Social Security and Medicare, mismanaging the COVID-19 pandemic, and has even implied that he is a gay pedophile. Meanwhile, Trump has welcomed all other GOP candidates into the race with open arms. There’s a reason for that…
With the election cycle beginning to heat up, Trump is now displaying signs of his pitiful cowardice. He posted a hysterical comment on his floundering Twitter ripoff, Truth Social, threatening to refrain from participating in any Republican candidate debates scheduled by the Republican National Committee. Trump raged that…
“I see that everybody is talking about the Republican Debates, but nobody got my approval, or the approval of the Trump Campaign, before announcing them. When you’re leading by seemingly insurmountable numbers, and you have hostile Networks with angry, TRUMP & MAGA hating anchors asking the ‘questions,’ why subject yourself to being libeled and abused? Also, the Second Debate is being held at the Reagan Library, the Chairman of which is, amazingly, Fred Ryan, Publisher of The Washington Post. NO!”
First of all, “everybody” is certainly not talking about Republican debates. Hardly anyone has mentioned them at all. But more importantly, where does Trump get the idea that his “approval” is required to hold such debates. He can decline to show up if he’s too chicken to face his opponents. But he doesn’t get to decide whether there will be any debates, or to dictate the terms.
For the record, the only network that has been identified as a host for any GOP debate is Fox News. Apparently Trump believes that Fox is a “hostile network” that is filled with “angry, TRUMP & MAGA hating anchors.” That’s some nuclear-grade delusion right there. If he’s afraid that he will be “libeled and abused” by Fox News’ questions, what network could he possibly accept as a debate host? Perhaps Russia’s RT news channel?
Trump is also maligning the patron saint of the GOP, Ronald Reagan, whose presidential library has been selected as a debate site. Trump’s problem with that is that library’s board is chaired by Washington Post publisher, Fred Ryan. Trump doesn’t mention that both Rupert Murdoch and his son, Lachlan, are also board members, along with an array of hard right business and political figures. He also doesn’t explain how the physical location would influence the content of the debate.
It is notable that the RNC has already demanded that Republicans refuse to participate in any of the debates sponsored by the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). This was done on Trump’s behalf to keep him from having to answer questions more difficult than “Were you the greatest president ever”?
Some Republicans might complain of hypocrisy considering that the Democratic National Committee recently said that they don’t expect to be holding debates for the Democratic nomination. However, these are two entirely different circumstances. The RNC is expected to have many viable candidates vying for their nomination, including governors and senators. However, the DNC presently has no other serious contenders. New age oracle Marianne Williamson and Steve Bannon’s stalking horse Robert F. Kennedy Jr. certainly don’t qualify. What’s more, it was a decision made by the DNC, not President Biden. If the DNC decides to hold debates, Biden will surely be there.
What we are witnessing is just another example of Trump’s pettiness, self-importance, and abject fear. He’s looking for excuses to evade any confrontations with smarter Republicans on a national stage that he doesn’t control. Should he follow through on his threat, the RNC should hold the debates without him. Which would actually improve their usefulness.
For his part, Trump can stage another cult rally where he rambles on interminably about the same crapola he’s been whining about for the past two years (mostly election fraud and his rapidly accumulating collection of indictments). It won’t get any media coverage other than on Newsmax and OAN. And it certainly won’t expand his support beyond his base of glassy-eyed yokels who are already indoctrinated into his cult. All of which should make for a profoundly comical season of GOP politics.
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