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OPINION

Count Out Trump at Your Peril

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Since its low energy announcement a few months ago, the 2024 Donald Trump presidential campaign has been a non-stop clusterfark of dinner dates with neo-Nazis, cavorting with the Conservative, Inc., likes of Lindsey Graham, disappointing fundraising, relitigating the 2020 election, and generating lame nicknames for a rival who is right on his Gucci’s heels. For his fans, it has been a festival of cognitive dissonance, as the OnlyTrumpers shriek that RON DESANTIS LOVES PAUL RYAN! and then excuse the photos of Trump literally endorsing Paul Ryan as some sort of 4-D chess or a cunning ploy to “keep his enemies closer.” On social media, there are a lot of conservatives who appreciate what he did and also wish his aging rear-end would haul off into retirement. His recent behavior, including a steady drumbeat of semi-coherent Truth Social declarations, indicates that there is no “New Trump,” and only someone who has failed to pay attention for the last nearly eight years could expect a reimagining from this nearly 80-year-old icon.

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And yet, you have to be nuts to count him out for 2024.

After all, he is Donald Trump, and the thing about Donald Trump – beyond the bluster and baloney and endless drama – is that he is often right when everyone else is wrong, and he often wins after everyone counts him out.

Not always.

Not every single time.

Not necessarily in 2024, primary or general.

But a lot. His 2016 election was a Black Swan event, and he is the Orange Swan of American politics.

The Atlantic recently ran an article that announced that the vast majority of activist Republicans are terrified of Trump dooming the party in 2024 and want him gone, certain he cannot win again. But like all leftists, they have no idea what Republicans actually think because the only Republicans they ever met were sharing the green room for Jake Tapper’s show. It might be true in DC, but out in the real world he’s got fans. But that does not necessarily mean that Trump will get his fans’ votes if someone else looks more likely to win.

Republicans have real concerns about Trump prevailing in the general election in 2024, as they should. After all, the guy has the lowest ceiling in American politics. Lots of people hate him, and pathologically so. He needs to win in places like AP, GA, AZ, MI and WI, and he didn’t do it last time. He seems to have no plan to do it this time. He’s less about draining the swamp today than accommodating it. His minions just helped reinstall Ronna McDaniel in the RNC, so the Republican campaign will be swimming with a lead life preserver. And what’s his obsession with Lindsey Graham? 

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Maybe the Democrats will help by nominating a corrupt, desiccated, senile old pervert, but then the last time they did the corrupt, desiccated, senile old pervert got the keys to the Oval Office and Trump got a half-dozen local yokel DAs – as well as the feds – trying to blast the few remaining norms in American politics to shreds by indicting him over nonsense. Of course, TRUMP! TRAITOR! TREASON! classified document fake outrage that they hoped to impale him is less outrageous as the FBI discovers ever more Top Secret documents in ever more of Joe Biden’s figurative orifices.

But the Republicans, as concerned as they are when Trump stomps on his manhood by inviting lunatics to lunch and so forth, do not hate the guy. They love the guy, even if he drives them nuts. He can be fun and incisive too, between the nonsense about being owned loyalty by competitors, as his recent Hugh Hewitt interview showed. He’s like your crazy uncle who you hide the Jack Daniels from when he comes to visit but offers you one of his kidneys when you need it. They appreciate the hell he put himself through to save the country, and he did save the country. You can argue with the crappy COVID response and his many, many ridiculous personnel blunders, and with his constant self-sabotage because he can’t keep his mouth shut or his fingers off his phone’s keyboard, but you cannot argue that he did not stop the left cold. If you hate abortion, thank Trump for Dobbs. Who the hell else in that era would have had the cast-iron cajones to stick with Brett Kavanaugh. Most Republicans would have wet themselves. Trump held his water and held the line.

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So, Republicans are not somehow anti-Trump. What they are is wondering if he is the right guy at this time. Those are different things. The base despises the likes of George Bush and Mitt Romney – who return the favor. But they loved having Trump in office, and they supported him in 2020. If they were sure he could likely win again in 2024, the vast majority of GOP voters would support him wholeheartedly.

But they aren’t sure. And complicating things for Trump is that Florida governor who keeps doing based things while not getting into stupid urinary competitions with third tier Hollywood dweebs like Rosie O’Donnell. There is a lot to consider, which is what a primary is for. What the GOP voters do not want – what they will not tolerate – is a bunch of people in the regime media (or even conservatism) telling them what to do. They can, and will, make up their own minds. And they may choose to Make the Nomination Trump’s Again.

Right now, the primary polls are mixed, meaning the primary polls are useless except to the extent that they show both Trump and DeSantis with various leads at various times. That Trump is not outright crushing DeSantis – who is not yet running and is ignoring Trump’s jibes even as he pummels the left in the Sunshine State – means this will be a real race.

And it is a two-man race. It’s two giants fighting it out surrounded by ankle nibblers. Trump is King Kong and DeSantis is Godzilla. Everyone else is a support kaiju. Nikki Haley is, I dunno, Rodan, if Rodan was an establishment squish.

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Mike Pompeo is maybe Mothra. Larry Hogan is definitely the Smog Monster. And Asa Hutchinson is one of those dudes running through downtown Tokyo who gets smushed.

Regardless, the “Destroy All Monsters” (which includes a based scene of Godzilla breathing fire on the UN building) that will be the 2024 GOP primary has only just begun, and with some good candidates entering the race soon – as well as Nikki Haley – the primary will play itself out. Trump faces some tough primaries/caucuses in New Hampshire and Iowa, though his cagey moves to nail down South Carolina might give him a win there. But there is one thing for certain – if Donald Trump does win the GOP primary, I am voting for him and so will the vast majority of you. But can he win in the 2024 general election? You’re right to be concerned – very concerned. He would have to defy the odds as he treads the needle to cheat political death under perfectly aligned stars. But if you think that’s impossible, you might want to get a second opinion from ex-President Felonia Milhous von Pantsuit.

Count Trump out at your peril, particularly if you support someone else.

Follow Kurt on Twitter @KurtSchlichter. Get Inferno, the seventh book in the Kelly Turnbull People's Republic series of conservative action novels set in America after a notional national divorce, as well as his non-fiction book We’ll Be Back: The Fall and Rise of America.

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