Murdoch Gunning for Trump

The New York Post and Wall Street Journal are blasting the losing loser.

The covers of the last two editions of the New York Post:

The latter also appears (twice) on the front page of, with TOXIC TRUMP in red, bold letters introducing John Podhoretz‘s column “Here’s how Donald Trump sabotaged the Republican midterms.” It begins,

Hey, Lyin’ Ted and Sleepy Joe: Meet Toxic Trump. You know, if the former president had any self-knowledge or even the slightest ability to be self-deprecating, he might consider giving himself this alliterative nickname.

After three straight national tallies in which either he or his party or both were hammered by the national electorate, it’s time for even his stans to accept the truth: Toxic Trump is the political equivalent of a can of Raid.

What Tuesday night’s results suggest is that Trump is perhaps the most profound vote repellent in modern American history.

The surest way to lose in these midterms was to be a politician endorsed by Trump.

This is not hyperbole.

Except for deep-red states where a Republican corpse would have beaten a Democrat, voters choosing in actually competitive races — who everyone expected would behave like midterm voters usually do and lean toward the out party — took one look at Trump’s handpicked acolytes and gagged.

Liberal fundraisers actually put money behind Trump-endorsed candidates in GOP primaries all over the place to help them prevail so that Democrats could face them in the general election. It was transparently cynical and an abuse of our political process. But it worked like gangbusters.

Piers Morgan also weighs in under the Post’s masthead with “It’s time the GOP dumped Trump the Grump and ran with Ron DeSantis.”

In the fall of 2008, I interviewed Donald Trump in a vast Beverly Hills mansion he’d recently bought, and he admitted the crucial importance of success to his brand.

“America loves winners, period,” he said. “You gotta win, that’s what it’s all about. You know, Muhammad Ali used to talk and talk, but he won. If you talk and talk but you lose, the act doesn’t play.”

I thought of that statement today as shocked Republicans squinted to catch sight of the barely perceptible ripples of a widely predicted red wave that never materialized in the midterm elections.

To say they didn’t see this coming is the understatement of the millennium.

In the past week, podcast king Joe Rogan declared, “The red wave that’s coming is going to be like the elevator doors opening up in ‘The Shining,'” and Sen. Ted Cruz predicted “not just a red wave but a red tsunami!”

But it never happened — leaving the party faithful both baffled and furious.

“There’s a guy in the White House who was searching for a dead woman in the room with him, and Democrats ran for Senate a guy who literally can’t talk,” raged conservative commentator Jason Howerton. “That’s not even factoring in economic devastation caused by bad policy. If you can’t execute a red wave today, when can you ever?”

On Fox News, former George W. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen branded it an “absolute disaster” for Republicans and seethed: “We have the worst inflation in four decades, the worst collapse in real wages in 40 years, the worst crime wave since the 1990s, the worst border crisis in US history, we have Joe Biden, who is the least popular president since Harry Truman, since presidential polling happened, and there wasn’t a red wave. That is a searing indictment on the Republican Party. That is a searing indictment of the message that we have been sending to the voters. They looked at all of that and looked at the Republican alternative and said, ‘No thanks.'”

Actually, I think they looked at Donald Trump and said, “No thanks.”

There’s no getting away from the cold, hard political reality that it was a surprisingly better night for the Democrats and President Biden than anyone, including them, expected.

And the reason for this had little to do with anything they did, other than correctly bet that the issue of abortion rights would be a vote-energizer for them — and everything to do with Trump’s toxic stranglehold on the GOP.

He can try, as he is, to ludicrously spin it as some kind of pyrrhic victory, but last night’s biggest loser was the permanently whining, fuming former president, and he has only himself to blame.

For those inclined to more highbrow fare, the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board weighs in with “Trump Is the Republican Party’s Biggest Loser” (subhed: He has now flopped in 2018, 2020, 2021 and 2022.)

What will Democrats do when Donald Trump isn’t around to lose elections? We have to wonder because on Tuesday Democrats succeeded again in making the former President a central campaign issue, and Mr. Trump helped them do it.

Trumpy Republican candidates failed at the ballot box in states that were clearly winnable. This can’t be what Mr. Trump was envisioning ahead of his “very big announcement” next week. Yet maybe the defeats are what the party needs to hear before 2024.

Looking at the Senate map, the message could not be clearer. In New Hampshire, the Trump-endorsed Republican Don Bolduc lost to Sen. Maggie Hassan, 53% to 45%, as of the latest data. At the same time voters re-elected Republican Gov. Chris Sununu by 16 points.

“Don Bolduc was a very nice guy, but he lost tonight when he disavowed, after his big primary win, his longstanding stance on Election Fraud,” Mr. Trump said. “Had he stayed strong and true, he would have won, easily.” We doubt New Hampshire voters simply wanted Mr. Bolduc to stay kooky.

In Arizona the Trump-endorsed Republican Blake Masters trails Sen. Mark Kelly, 51% to 47%. This is a state successful Gov. Doug Ducey won by 14 points in 2018. Mr. Ducey could have won the Senate seat, but Mr. Trump pledged to go to war with him because Mr. Ducey refused to entertain 2020 fraud theories.

In Pennsylvania, the Trump-endorsed Republican Mehmet Oz lost to John Fetterman, 51% to 47%. This is a tough state for the GOP. But Mr. Fetterman was a weak candidate: He’s a lefty with a record of wanting Medicare for All and a ban on fracking, and he’s recovering from a stroke. David McCormick would have been a better Republican nominee, but he wouldn’t say the 2020 election was stolen, so Mr. Trump endorsed Mr. Oz.

In Georgia, the Trump-endorsed Republican Herschel Walker trails Sen. Raphael Warnock, 49.4% to 48.5%. This is going to a December runoff, which Mr. Walker could win. But Gov. Brian Kemp won re-election by eight points. Mr. Walker’s flaws as a candidate were obvious, but Mr. Trump helped clear the primary field and other candidates opted out.

In Ohio the Trump-endorsed Republican J.D. Vance won a solid victory over Rep. Tim Ryan, 53% to 47%, while Republican Gov. Mike DeWine won by 26 points. Mr. Vance was a poor fundraiser. As of Oct. 19 he’d pulled in $12 million to Mr. Ryan’s $47 million. What saved him was $32 million from the Senate Leadership Fund (SLF), a Super Pac aligned with Mitch McConnell. Mr. Vance trailed in the polls until mid-October.

Doug Mastriano, Pennsylvania’s Trump-endorsed gubernatorial choice, lost by 14 points. Tim Michels in Wisconsin and Tudor Dixon in Michigan fumbled winnable gubernatorial races. Also in Michigan, Mr. Trump helped John Gibbs beat GOP Rep. Peter Meijer in the primary in the Grand Rapids seat because Mr. Meijer voted to impeach him. Mr. Gibbs lost by 13 points. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler also voted to impeach Mr. Trump, who helped Joe Kent beat her in a primary. Mr. Kent is trailing in that Washington state district.

Mr. Trump could have stayed quiet in the final weeks of the campaign except to spend money to help his candidates. But he did little of the latter and instead staged rallies that played into Democratic hands. His rally in Latrobe last week might have hurt Mr. Oz with suburban voters who cost Mr. Trump the state in 2020.

Since his unlikely victory in 2016 against the widely disliked Hillary Clinton, Mr. Trump has a perfect record of electoral defeat. The GOP was pounded in the 2018 midterms owing to his low approval rating. Mr. Trump himself lost in 2020. He then sabotaged Georgia’s 2021 runoffs by blaming party leaders for not somehow overturning his defeat. That gave Democrats control of the Senate, letting President Biden pump up inflation with a $1.9 trillion Covid bill, appoint a liberal Supreme Court Justice, and pass a $700 billion climate spending hash.

Now Mr. Trump has botched the 2022 elections, and it could hand Democrats the Senate for two more years. Mr. Trump had policy successes as President, including tax cuts and deregulation, but he has led Republicans into one political fiasco after another.

“We’re going to win so much,” Mr. Trump once said, “that you’re going to get sick and tired of winning.” Maybe by now Republicans are sick and tired of losing.

Both publications, of course, are owned by Rupert Murdoch, founder of Fox News. There have been signs for months that Murdock was done with Trump along with reports that the network is giving Trump much less attention. This would seem to seal the deal. How that impacts Trump’s plans for 2024 remains to be seen.

That so many are rallying behind DeSantis, who is in many ways a smarter if less charismatic Trump is, alas, disappointing. But one step at a time, I guess.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, 2022 Election, Media, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    Kimmel roasted The Biggest Loser, too.
    I bet the ketchup be flyin’ at Mar-a-Lago.

  2. wr says:

    I’d send this privately if I could so you could make the change and maybe no one would notice… but you should probably check the spelling in your headline… [Fixed!]

  3. MarkedMan says:

    Just want to repeat what I’ve been saying since 2015: too much has been made of Trump’s supposedly unique power. The reality is that if Trump hadn’t run and won, someone like Trump would have. Today’s Republican Party is about breeding resentment and setting groups against each other while minding the interests of the wealthy and powerful in the background. Reach into the bucket of crabs and pull another out at random and you’ll get more or less the same result.

  4. Crusty Dem says:


  5. charon says:

    A small but still significant part of the GOP base is Trump’s cult following, the sort that travels around attending his rallies or carrying signs like “Thank you Lord Jesus for Donald Trump.”

    My take, JMHO, is people like DeSantis will not feel safe annoying those folks by challenging Trump after/if he soon declares for 2024. So I think Trump will temporarily freeze the field after/if he declares.

    I don’t think that lasts, though. I believe Trump has senile dementia and between that and the dirt that comes out when he is indicted and tried he will progressively look less and less viable as a candidate.

    So, eventually, a free for all for the 2024 nomination.

  6. mattbernius says:

    The WSJ opinion page was one of the first to turn against Trump, basically right after the 2020 election. Here are two past examples of them going after him:

  7. Argon says:

    Lol. DeSantis is just “Trump II”, in the Murdochs’ dystopian movie franchise. And this sequel is a less interesting imitation of the original. Same stale plotlines. It’s like they want to try changing the actor but keep the same character.

  8. DK says:


    DeSantis is just “Trump II”

    Without the humor or charisma. A technocratic Trump.

    Insane that Republicans are landing on DeSantis as their savior instead of admitting their problem is they’ve become extreme, science-denying, book-banning Putin puppets who think freaking out over drag queens and mindlessly repeating “woke” is the solution to inflation and crime.

    Bring on 2024.

  9. gVOR08 says:

    I’ve never felt like Trump could survive politically for four years, but I never had any good argument to support that feeling. A bad midterm will do. It caught my eye yesterday that FOX seemed down on Trump. Murdoch is eager to sense which way his audience is going so he can lead them. I trust his ability as a weather vane. He seems to be swinging to DeUseless. Now if I could manage to feel like that’s an improvement.

    I see some discussion this morning around DeUseless outperforming other GOPs and why is FL different. As a newish resident of FL (time to pull up the ladder and chase the kids off the lawn.) I will unequivocally say I have no idea. I’d say Texas too, but noting DeUseless won by a much wider margin than Abbott. Some idle speculation:
    – High percentage of retirees. (There are huge double wide compounds.)
    – A weak D Party. (Seriously, Charlie Christ?)
    – Confederate state. (I love that near me there’s an intersection of Sumter and Appomattox. But no one else seems to notice.)
    – Lack of much real, i.e. industrial, economy.
    – The Miami Cubans. (Jeez guys, it’s been 60 years.)
    – High foreign born population. (Slightly lower than CA, or NJ, or NY.)
    – The old thing about whites going soft in warm climates.

    Can DeUseless’ success in FL translate to a wider stage?

  10. Kathy says:

    We’ve seen the GQP turn against Benito before. During the shutdown, after November 2020, after December 2020, after Jan. 6 2021.

    It’s like the joke that quitting smoking is so easy, you can do it over and over again.

    The one big difference is he has no Twitter now, and his own platform has nowhere near the reach Elon’s does. This may change next week, when St. Elon of Fudd decides he can’t keep a candidate for office out of his platform.

  11. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan: @gVOR08: Trump is uniquely bad. I very much dislike many of his policy directions but the thing that was the most severe break from even the Tea Party wing was his sheer disregard for not only basic norms but the rule of law. Plus, he simply got away with things no other politician could for reasons I don’t fully understand.

    If Trump can be cleared from the field, then a Ron DeSantis or Glenn Youngkin or another governor can emerge as the new leader of the party. (I think Cruz, Rubio, and company are irrecoverably ruined by their spineless toadying.) I still won’t agree with them on a lot of policy issues but it would represent a turn toward normalcy in American politics.

  12. CSK says:

    @James Joyner:

    Being not as appalling as Trump would be a very low bar to clear.

  13. Modulo Myself says:

    Maybe because he has no illusions about his own worth, but Trump probably understands the ultimate failure behind everything that DeSantis stands for. By and large, people who blame teachers, wokeness, or Covid for what’s up with their kids are just not great parents and I just don’t see DeSantis’ schtick working without alienating huge numbers of people in a way that Trump never did. Trump had enough self-awareness to paint himself as not a great guy, whereas all of his imitators are like yes this is what you should be doing if you want to be good.

  14. JohnSF says:

    A low bar but a necessary one.
    Insurrection and attempting to seize office by fraud and force steps entirely outside the legal and social basis of politics, and potentially into the area of coup d’etat and civil war.

  15. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner: Trump had policies? I’ve been reading Brad DeLong, Slouching Towards Utopia. I happened last night to read his description of the rise of Fascism in Italy. Mussolini was a socialist journalist and activist. When the trade union parties universally signed on to go to war in 1914 he realized nationalism trumped class solidarity and decided nationalism provided a better path to power. Anything pretending to be policy, or a political philosophy, came later.

    Trump was very much the same. The Wall was a line in a speech. When it went over big it became policy. And DeUseless is no different. His only policy, his political philosophy, is that he should be president. If stealing asylum seekers from Abbott and illegally sending them to Martha’s Vineyard helps him politically, that’s what he’ll do. If it would help him to bring them back and give them cushy state jobs teaching CRT to trans kids, that’s what he would do. (He can’t legally do that because he and the lege weaseled mandatory E Verify around so it only applies to government jobs. But he’d find a way around the law.) In power nationally, he would be worse than Trump. He lacks Trump’s redeeming incompetence.

    Elements of the supposedly liberal MSM will find in DeSantis the “reasonable Republican” they’re so desperate to find. That won’t make him so.

  16. Kathy says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Trump had enough self-awareness to paint himself as not a great guy,

    I’m sorry, what? Did I step into some parallel universe?

    The guy who “has the best words,” picks only “the best people,” and whose every action is either always the first, the greatest, or both, did not paint himself as a great guy?

    Am i missing something? Did I actually dream the last fice years or so?

  17. CSK says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    But Trump did alienate huge numbers of people.

  18. CSK says:


    Don’t forget “I alone can fix it.”

  19. Kathy says:


    I was hoping someone would tell me I must have dreamt the last five years or so 😀

  20. Jay L Gischer says:

    I think Abbot did really well this cycle. Abbot in 2022 outperformed Trump in 2020 by 4-5 points in the counties I saw numbers for. It’s disappointing, the complete mess Texas made of the power situation appears not to have hurt him.

    Which is more fuel for Trump being the biggest loser, I think.

  21. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    Trump is uniquely bad

    I suspect we will just have to accept we disagree on this. For me, the arc of the Republican Party was set with adoption of the Southern Strategy during the Goldwater campaign and was made irrevocably by Reagan’s decision to start his campaign in Philadelphia, MS with a harangue about states rights. At this point in the arc it was inevitable that the Republican Party wold be led by modern day incarnations of George Wallace and Bull Connor. With Trump you have Bull Connor. DeSantis is Wallace. But the thing about Connor and Wallace is that there is not a whit of difference in their world view, their cynicism, or their lack of ethics, morals, or even just basic human empathy. Wallace was more polished than Connor, DeSantis is more polished than Trump. But under the polish you have the same fetid turd.

  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “It’s all his fault!”

    A little introspection of their “policy” goals would do them a world of good. They only have 3: Lower taxes on the rich, less regulation of corporations (so they can run rampant w/o any concern for anyone’s welfare) and hate for anyone who isn’t them.

    Not that that will ever happen. Conservatism can never fail, it can only be failed.

  23. Moosebreath says:

    @James Joyner:

    “Plus, he simply got away with things no other politician could for reasons I don’t fully understand.”

    What makes you think the Republican base won’t give DeSantis, or whoever is the next Republican leader, exactly the same free pass? Entirely serious question.

  24. Kathy says:

    @James Joyner:

    Plus, he simply got away with things no other politician could for reasons I don’t fully understand.

    That’s one of the big mysteries of our time. I’m serious. He did things, admitted to things, and was accused of things that have sunk lots of candidates at all levels for years and years, even quite recently.

    I can see things that “help” El Cheeto in this respect. For instance, he has no shame, or rather never appears to be ashamed in public. Even the famous walk of shame back to the White House we all enjoyed watching, the one after his big superspreader rally fizzled due to the tiny audience, he looks defeated, maybe also tired, but not ashamed.

    The biggest thing, though, must be his loyal base of deplorables. Regardless of why, like because he gives a “respectable” voice to their prejudices, Benito enjoys a fanatical base who will support and defend him no matter what. This scares off rivals within his party, as they’re more likely to lose what they have (see Liz Cheney, and many others) than to even slow the Cheeto down.

    This may also scare people outside his party, like the media or the DOJ as well. Many of the deplorables have physically attacked those Benito deems to be enemies. not effectively, not even on January 6, but that’s a consideration. Ask Governor Whitmer.

    And then there’s what I call institutional habit. The political press, the media, and even law enforcement like the DOJ and FBI, treat him as they would a normal high-ranking politician. In addition they set him a really low bar. remember his first speech to congress? He was rather subdued and almost normal. The reaction of the press was effusive in praise, for something so small and inconsequential it deserved neither praise nor note.

  25. just nutha says:

    @gVOR08: Hard to see DeSantis as an improvement given that he’s merely Trump without the redeeming qualities–pretty strong on the stump, charming (if you like that sort of personality), good pitchman, good understanding of how to tap into the public’s Id, etc.

  26. just nutha says:

    @James Joyner: I fail to see how DeSantis represents a “return to normalcy;” then again, I’m not looking for a reason to return to voting for Republicans, either.

  27. steve says:

    DeSantis won by about the same percentage as Rubio so I think his popularity is being overplayed. I find it hard to believe that the faith leaders of the evangelical movement who have committed to Trump are going to give up. God gave them a leader and God cant be wrong. Couple that with the GOP primary system and I think Trump is still the favorite but it could get ugly. Big g amble for DeSantis.


  28. Joe says:

    To me, the most interesting thing about the Republican party ditching Trump and turning to DeSantis is that it opens the field. Once the field is opened, anything can happen. After all, who thought that Trump would upend Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio when they were the “obvious” front runners.

    No Republican can risk going toe-to-toe with Trump without knowing s/he can get the party behind the move. But with Trump sidelined, anybody can afford politically to take a shot.

  29. Lounsbury says:

    @JohnSF: Yes indeed – Trump showed all the signs of the mafia-esque developing world coup d’état makers I have regrettably direct familiarity with.

    While the Usual Suspects here, being deeply partisan Left of various colours obviously generally are incapable of stepping outsdie of the party-political views – entire party, all Republicans same evil (more or less the mirror image of the Republican demonising of them) – if you’re not a party-political activist or partisan it’s really quite clear Trump was and is something rather extremely dangerous to American democracy as such. Not merely Democratic partisan perferences and generally not being Lefty and particularly Lefty multi-culty aligned, but well into coup d’etat generator territory from his utter disregard of any norm as James pnoted and from his utter lack of boundaries allowing him to charge through things any normal person would recoil from.

    While not being deeply familiar with DeSantis, one has the impression he is a normal politician (and mentally normal human overall, contra Trump) and as such vast improvement in democracy terms.

    Of course for Lefty partisan they will not allow for not being the political devil incarnate. Rather like with Bush the Younger as I recall (noting I rather despised Bush the Younger for his MENA idiocy).

  30. just nutha says:

    @Kathy: I think Modulo is thinking of “I could shoot somebody on 5th Ave,” “if you see someone heckling here, go ahead and punch them out, I’ll pay your legal fees” and stuff like that. It’s a variation on God using bad people doing evil things to accomplish good. Trump did portray himself as someone who will do bad stuff to accomplish his goals (evanescent as they might be).

  31. just nutha says:

    @Kathy: The DOJ and FBI treat him like a high-ranking politician because HE HAS BEEN a high-ranking politician–the top of the food chain, in fact. The problem with aristocracy (benign like ours or otherwise) is that if you manage to clear the bar, it makes you an aristo subject to all the perks of the cracy.

  32. just nutha says:

    @Lounsbury: I get that you don’t like lefties, but what was the message in that word salad beyond you don’t like lefties?

    ETA: Or is expecting more content in the rant a waste of time?

  33. dazedandconfused says:


    The reason Trump got away with so much is everybody in his party was afraid to cross him. A slime-job was assured, and a slime-job which would surely result in a primary challenge which would win.

    Trump ruled his party by coerson, which is hard but brittle method of control. It builds a hidden and particularly toxic rage in the coerced, who loathe not only the person controlling them but even more they loathe themselves for knuckling under to it. The fall, if it comes, is typically quick and very, very deep.

  34. James Joyner says:

    @just nutha: I see DeSantis as a more charismatic Ted Cruz type. He’s not somebody I would vote for over a Joe Biden type but he’s a guy who would, if elected President, follow the norms of the office and obey the laws of the country. If he clearly lost in 2028, he would graciously concede that fact and make a good-faith effort to help his successor transition to power. That’s a return to normalcy.

  35. Kathy says:

    @just nutha:

    I said like a normal high-ranking politician. He’s not. He’s a grifter, con man, and thief, who used his unassailable position to engage in more criminal activity.

    He didn’t have to. He didn’t have to abscond with classified documents. He didn’t have to incite an insurrection. He didn’t have to thrash America’s allies. He didn’t have to violate all norms and incite hatred at democratic institutions.

    You can treat someone like that the way you would Clinton, Reagan, or even Nixon.

  36. DK says:

    Trump, DeSantis, six in one hand, a half dozen in the other. Two abnormal, authoritarian cranks. Two creeps in a pod.

    Put a new face on homophobia, racism and climate change denial, and it’s still homophobia, racism, climate change denial. So you still have the same electoral issue with the sane, decent voters outside of your base of Florida Man deplorables. Now what?

    Trump’s independent run alongside DeFascist’s GQP bid should be a fun show tho.

  37. CSK says:

    No, Trump is unique: He’s a boob and an oaf.

  38. charon says:

    @James Joyner:

    I see DeSantis as a more charismatic Ted Cruz type. He’s not somebody I would vote for over a Joe Biden type but he’s a guy who would, if elected President, follow the norms of the office and obey the laws of the country. If he clearly lost in 2028, he would graciously concede that fact and make a good-faith effort to help his successor transition to power. That’s a return to normalcy.

    Republicans have been (mostly, not all) behaving normally this cycle, but they lack the offices held and votes to do otherwise. Would they still act normal in other circumstances? Facts not in evidence.

  39. Kathy says:

    @James Joyner:

    To paraphrase George Constanza: No Republiqan is going to respect any norms as long as Democrats still exist.

    Maybe he won’t go around shattering norms out of ignorance, because he seems less ignorant than Benito. Other than that, look at King Manuel Andres of Mexico for a reference of the Benito effect.

    He’s an old, veteran politico form way back, who’s held office under three different parties. He governed a state, then Mexico City, then assumed the throne in 2018. He was always a narcissist and self-promoter, and went hard after political enemies. Now he allows no one else to claim a bit of his spotlight, and anyone who dares disagree with him is his mortal enemy. And whatever norms we had, are as broken even if it’s not out of ignorance.

    That’s what you can expect form the Florida Man, perhaps with fewer rolling scandals.

  40. charon says:

    Arizona gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake (R) claims the state’s elections are being run “like we’re in some Banana Republic”:

    “The people didn’t vote for [Katie Hobbs] … this is ridiculous.”

  41. CSK says:


    I think we all knew Lake would do this.

  42. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    but he’s a guy who would, if elected President, follow the norms of the office and obey the laws of the country. If he clearly lost in 2028, he would graciously concede that fact and make a good-faith effort to help his successor transition to power. That’s a return to normalcy.

    If I believed that, I would agree with your premise. But I don’t believe that and am unsure why you do. What makes you think he would obey the laws of the country?

  43. James Joyner says:

    @Kathy: @MarkedMan: Trump is the only Republican President to make these transgressions. Even Richard Nixon acquiesced, twice, to the best interest of the country. Republican election officials refused to go along with the Big Lie across the board.

  44. charon says:

    @James Joyner: The Republicans of today are not the same people as the GOP of 1974. I do not see how the behavior of one group connects to the behavior of an entirely separate group.

  45. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: Trump is the only Republican President to make these transgressions.

    Yes, he laid a different track. What makes you think DeSantis et al won’t follow in his footsteps? Because as far as I can tell, the GOP at large thinks he got away with it. His only failure was not pushing it far enough.

  46. Kathy says:

    @James Joyner:

    I refer you to Lucius Cornelius Sulla.

    While definitely not the first to attempt to obtain more power over the Roman Republic than the law allowed, he was the one who succeeded. Having won and reformed the Republic to his liking, or close enough, he stepped down from his post of Dictator for Life.

    What he really accomplished, however, was to show others the way to take near absolute power for one’s self, while having the Senate and the People go along. This is what gave Rome Julius Caesar, numerous civil wars, and a terminal case of Empire.

    I call this the Sulla Effect. The Benito Effect is similar, but more concerned with trampling norms and institutions for political gain and private profit (NOTE: Profit does not necessarily mean money).

    While Nixon did not get the prosecution he deserved, he at least suffered the indignity of resigning his second term in disgrace. Benito has been spared all that, notwithstanding the twin impeachments. You can’t shame him.

  47. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner:

    He’s not somebody I would vote for over a Joe Biden type but he’s a guy who would, if elected President, follow the norms of the office and obey the laws of the country. If he clearly lost in 2028, he would graciously concede that fact and make a good-faith effort to help his successor transition to power.


    DeSantis has certainly broken norms. Trump has shown us breaking laws is not a binary thing. If DeSantis hasn’t broken any, he’s sure skated close. Top of the head and a quick Google:

    Redistricting. The FL constitution was amended in 2010 to prohibit partisan redistricting. The lege produced a plan that somewhat helped GOPs. DeSantis rejected it and pushed through his own extremely partisan plan. It’s in the courts.

    Martha’s Vineyard. DeSantis may have committed unlawful restraint under TX law along with fraud and even kidnapping. That aside, DeSantis arguably misappropriated funds specifically budgeted to remove unauthorized aliens from FL to remove asylum seekers from TX. The Feds may be looking into whether he used COVID funds. The charter company, a federal contractor, may have made illegal campaign contributions.

    Suspended State Att’y. DeSantis removed an elected prosecutor. It’s in the courts.

    COVID. DeSantis overrode local officials on business and beach closures.

    Sasse. The FSU search is supposed to be confidential up to the naming of a short list. DeSantis pushed it to Sasse as the sole candidate.

    Stop Woke Act. In the courts. Last I heard, blocked by court order.

    Felon voting. A referendum passed overwhelmingly a few years ago to allow felons who’ve served their time to vote. DeSantis and the lege have been throwing every obstacle in the way. Despite bragging how clean the 2020 election was in FL, he created a special election police force. In a stunt designed to discourage other voters he had his special police arrest 20 ex felons for illegally voting. They appear to have voted in good faith under a deliberately confusing system. Not sure if anyone’s sued for unlawful arrest yet.

    Spent too much time on this already. I’ll close with a link to Eric Alterman, Ron DeSantis Is an Honest-to-God Semi-Fascist. Alterman covers some of the above, plus a lot of other more or less legal, but dubious actions. As for the “semi”, give him time. My beloved governor is quite a piece of work.

  48. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Joyner: Interesting. I see DeSantis as having the charisma of a stopped sink full of yesterday’s not quite washed dishes. But I don’t see Cruz as either more or less charismatic. Cruz is just a lying weasel in a suit. For DeSantis, the DeSanctimonius nickname is pretty clever; particularly after that “on the eighth day, God made a fighter (? warrior?)” ad. Too clever for FG to have come up with, but it shows he’s got a good writer somewhere.

  49. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    If he clearly lost in 2028, he would graciously concede that fact and make a good-faith effort to help his successor transition to power. That’s a return to normalcy.

    Yeah. I’m not buying that ahead of it happening. But it would be a return to some approximation of normalcy if it did happen. We’d be almost back to normalcy in the 2008 sense–when McCain asked his supporters to not boo the idea that Barack Obama was an American.

  50. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: “You can treat someone like that the way you would Clinton, Reagan, or even Nixon.”

    And yet we’re going to because of the stature of the office. That’s what I mean about crossing the bar making you high-ranking. “Deserve” has nothing to do with it.

  51. Modulo Myself says:

    @just nutha:

    Pretty much. He also did not portray himself as a normal middle-class guy with a family, and the base loved him for that. And there’s a sizable chunk of Republicans at the lower ends who will go with Trump over the insane Stepford values of someone like Ron DeSantis. Trump was the boss nobody in Middle America ever had. DeSantis is the guy who has fucked you over while defending Values 24/7. He’s as common as dirt, and to be honest, he is a return to GOP norms.

  52. Modulo Myself says:

    @James Joyner:

    Maybe you are right. But if so these guys are creeping and slinking and skulking back to ‘normalcy’ rather than nailing Trump for his violations. The expectations are so low here about standing up for what you believe that you can’t expect people to be convinced.

    I suspect that unless Trump doesn’t run, he will be able to leverage this weakness against whoever his opponents are. The fact that anybody would run against Trump and think they’re going to wing it when it comes to saying whether or not he should be in prison for the coup points to a lot of wishful thinking.

  53. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner: Republicans all over the country and at the highest levels of the party have supported Trump even after an attempted coup and promoted his big lie. Yes, many of them are more polished than him but they support him. I don’t know why you think that someone who supports and protects a traitor should be given the benefit of the doubt. My god, he literally tried to incite a mob to kill Mike Pence and yet you still think those defending him are a “return to normalcy”?

  54. Lounsbury says:

    @just nutha: You do not get it correctly at all. I am perfectly okay with many centre-Left. I think Biden is quite good for example, and the more self-aware Left here that are less myopically Intello-Left partisan also perfectly like.

    The point is clear enough. The comments collapsing DeSantis and all Republicans into Trump are no better in accuracy nor reasonable grasp of political terrain than the Republican versions collapsing all Democrats into AOC or outright Communists proper. Vapid and empty, and inaccurate, and worse yet, self-deceiving to the point of assisting in inducing political error.

    Reminding me of the over-the-top shrill hysteria about Bush the Younger back in the day (and I repeat, said Bush the Younger I had so little love for that in online cases Republicans thought I was some kind of Lefty).