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  • Jeffrey A. Rendall

Assault on America, Day 740: Could Trump’s career take a Phoenix-like rise from the ashes?

Trump’s political career might’ve lived through last Wednesday, but probably not now

There’s a scene about halfway through the movie “Groundhog Day where the film’s main character, news weatherman Phil Connors, “borrows” a pickup truck with the world’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, inside the cab.


It’s a long story, but in doing so, Connors was trying to end his reoccurring everyday-is-Groundhog Day nightmare by removing the groundhog from the face of the earth -- and himself along with it. Cornered after a chase, Connors decides to end-it-all and drive his illegally acquired pickup truck off a cliff in a rock quarry. Connors’ news station colleagues witness the action. Upon the truck hitting the ground wheels-up (after about a two-hundred-foot drop), cameraman Larry comments matter-of-factly, “Well, he could still be okay.”


The truck then explodes in a huge ball of flames and Larry remarks, equally emotionless -- “Well, probably not now.”


I didn’t immediately think of this movie scene last Wednesday as the ugly events unfolded in Washington, D.C., but the aftermath -- specifically the media’s and political class’s hysterical reaction to it -- gave me pause. Having hundreds of people dressed as Trump supporters breaking into the U.S. Capitol building and then proceeding to vandalize it and (somewhat) threaten the lives of House members, senators and Vice President Mike Pence inside, one could sense the essence of Trump’s political career subsiding before our eyes. Such a complete diminution would’ve seemed improbable if not impossible just a few days prior, but some things you just can’t shake. Like the reputation for instigating a riot.


For the record, I don’t believe Trump was intentionally fomenting rebellion with his speech on Wednesday. The content of the address was fairly standard Trumpian rhetoric, full of defiance and tugs at the emotions of supporters who still remember the days prior to January 20, 2017, when the elite establishment ruling class governed as though the opinions of the “common folk” didn’t matter a lick. Trump’s appeals to continue the fight and to get to the bottom of the election fraud and “irregularities” was perfectly acceptable. What the people did next -- perhaps egged on by leftist infiltrators -- was not.


At any rate, even as the “mostly peaceful” protest was taking place, I thought Trump could still recover from it and continue his bid to Make America Great Again someday, maybe after a significant cooling off period. Then, just like the pickup truck detonating and disintegrating in the “Groundhog Day” snippet described above… “Well, probably not now.”


By all appearances, Trump did himself irreparable damage by failing to immediately address the out-of-control throng of “mostly peaceful” demonstrators. Physical property damage was comparatively light by contemporary leftist “protest” standards. The only visible scars that remain are those etched in people’s minds, helped along by a willing establishment media all-too-anxious to replay the free-for-all over and over again. Outrage only lasts so long, especially when the initial shock subsides. If this weren’t true, Democrats wouldn’t keep dredging up new scandals to keep the fires lit.


Trump’s 2024 political prospects are history. But the movement he started will last as long as the feeling behind it does. Put it this way, it’s doubtful that the bulk of Trump backers have permanently tucked away their campaign paraphernalia and replaced it with Biden/Harris signs and “With Her!” apparel… and Obama’s “Hope and Change” posters have long since faded on the basement walls of twenty-somethings who fell for his schtick and still live at home with their parents.


There’s a new day alright. The only question is what happens from here. Patrick J. Buchanan addressed the subject last week at CNS News, “After Trump leaves the presidency, he will not be coming back. The opposition to him inside the GOP would prevent his nomination or would defect to prevent his reelection were he nominated again.


“Yet, the size and strength of Trump's movement is such that no Republican candidate he declares persona non grata could win the nomination and the presidency. Trump's supporters are today being smeared and castigated by the same media who lionized the BLM and antifa ‘peaceful protesters’ who spent their summer rioting, looting, burning and pillaging Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Portland, Kenosha, Louisville and scores of other cities.


“The Trumpists have been demonized before. They are used to this. And whatever their sins, disloyalty and ingratitude to the man they put in the presidency is not one of them.”


Truer words were never spoken -- or written. Witnessing the gleeful liberal news media tearing another ounce of flesh from a friendless President Trump last week, one felt intense remorse over what had just happened. It wasn’t his fault -- or at least not entirely. Trump’s enemies didn’t understand, or even try to rationalize what took place. They’d rather run another quote from Mitt Romney, a politician so hapless that he couldn’t win reelection in his own state right now.


Of course, it should be remembered that Groundhog Day’s Phil Connors didn’t actually die in the truck crash. He awoke the next morning at 6 a.m. like he had all the previous days in his strange world, to the tune of Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe” and having it be February 2nd, complete with the same radio DJ commentary, “Don’t forget your booties because it’s COLD out there!”


Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that Trump will enjoy a similar reawakening. It’s not because he's suddenly lost popularity. The 74+ million who voted for him in November would almost unquestionably do so again -- at least when the alternative is still Joe Biden. Perspective is always in short supply when it comes to American politics and the way the media reports on it, one side of the story is perpetually missing from the news broadcasts. The media scratched and clawed for over five years to find the magic bullet that would kill Trump’s political prospects.


They found it -- or at least it looks like the case. Or he supplied it for them, whatever the scenario. The people are still with Trump, it’s the GOP establishment that would never go along with him again. The snobby elites reluctantly put up with Trump because his coattails brought them power and riches (in the form of contributions). But now they have an excuse to cut him loose and refuse the possibility of a reconciliation ever again.


The divorce papers haven’t even been signed, finalized and filed and the elites are swearing against any possibility of a reunion. Not even for the sake of the children! They got what they wanted. Thanks, tiny fraction of overzealous, capitol building invading Trumpists! You made us all look bad, but worst of all, you’ve nuked the credibility of the most effective leader of this century. Trump often boasted of getting more accomplished in four years than any other president had done in two full terms. In some ways, yes, and others, no. But if the testament to Trump’s effectiveness was measured by the ferocity of his establishment opposition, then he’ll still go down as a great president.


Could Trump weather this latest storm and emerge like a Phoenix from the ashes?


Why is Trump’s political demise so certain? Not too long ago it was revealed by a Gallup survey that Trump was the most admired man in America. He didn’t earn the honor from nearly one-in-five respondents to the question by being equivocal and unsure of himself. Would there be a single person who admired Trump just a month ago who would’ve changed his or her mind after last Wednesday?


Unlikely. But Trump’s been tarnished beyond the possibility of a complete recovery. Politicians have sometimes reemerged from scandals after a matter of years or decades -- if you don’t believe it, just ask dopey Joe “my ancestors were coal miners” Biden -- but Trump’s age alone precludes this type of comeback. While it was conceivable, if not probable, that Trump would run again in four years, it’s doubtful that one presidential term is sufficient time for him to fix the damage from this latest episode.


Most if not all of the establishment has sworn this was the final (the very, very, very, very last!) straw, and most if not all will still be around in a few years. Unlike someone like Joe Biden in the eighties, the current generation of party “leaders” won’t have faded from view. There will no doubt be calls for replacing Mitch McConnell as GOP caucus leader in the senate, but who would take his place? Whomever it would be (John Thune? Roy Blunt?), he or she will be aligned with the establishment. Put another way, anyone seen as being too close to Trump is toxic for the near term. Scare away the fat cat donors and you’re out of luck!


Even some of Trump’s cabinet officers are bailing on him, and his critics aren’t being shy about criticizing him on the way out. What a collection of principled people, filled with gratitude for the opportunity to serve their country and achieve great policy victories! Or could it be that the cabinet officers resigned to upset the prospects of a successful 25th Amendment challenge? If you can’t get over half the cabinet to agree on the need to remove, there is no constitutional means to do it.


Such talk a week or so ahead of Grampa Joe’s inauguration is insane. But nothing makes sense anymore, does it?


There’s a most definite power void created by the confusion. Vice President Mike Pence could effectively become the leader of the party if he chooses to assume the role. Pence is the one Trump confidante who appears to have the requisite establishment trust and is still highly regarded by the grassroots. The days and weeks ahead will clarify who goes where, but for now, Trump seems headed for retirement and hoping time heals all wounds.


Lebron James says there are two Americas. Which one does he belong to?


It didn’t take long for the usual empty liberal culture heads to weigh-in on what happened last Wednesday, commenting from their lofty perches as though their opinions might contain value to some people. NBA star Lebron James was one such person. Dave McMenamin reported at ESPN.com, “A day after a mob of pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, Los Angeles Lakers captain LeBron James wondered what would have happened if the group of insurgents was mostly Black people, and blamed the mayhem on President Donald Trump.


“’We live in two Americas,’ James said … ‘And that was a prime example of that yesterday, and if you don't understand that or don't see that after seeing what you saw yesterday, then you really need to take a step back -- not even just one step, but maybe four or five, or even 10 steps backwards and ask yourself how do you want your kids, or how do you want your grandkids, or how do we want America to be viewed as? Do we want to live in this beautiful country?’...


“’If those were my kind storming the Capitol, what would have been the outcome? And I think we all know,’ James said. ‘There's no ifs, ands or buts -- we already know what would've happened to my kind if anyone would have even got close to the Capitol, let alone storm inside the offices, inside the hallways.’”


Yes, that’s right. Make this a racial issue. But to be fair, James wasn’t saying anything that liberal commentators and Democrat politicians weren’t arguing. Pasty white New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand blubbered basically the same thing. None of these people bothered mentioning the multitudes of dark-skinned “mostly peaceful” protesters from last summer rioting, looting, burning and running amok without hardly any interference from police, much less finding themselves riddled with bullets. (Note: To be fair, the riots also contained a healthy representation of “woke” white kids as well. Pulling down statues and defacing public property is a colorblind leftist activity, after all.)


And who are James’s “kind” anyway? Disgustingly wealthy, pampered, privileged, spoiled, inane, China-appeasing, hypocritical, professional athletes? Here’s guaranteeing that if the whole of the NBA rushed the capitol that the liberal media folks on scene would rush up to them and beg for autographs and fall over themselves to be the first to take selfies and report on the great “cause of freedom and justice” that they’re involved in.


“Black Lives Matter” plaza would have to share the glory with these guys and there would be many a statue erected in their honor, the great freedom fighters of the National Basketball Association! Say her name, gosh darn-it!


What they really deserve is a monument to ignorance and complete twisting of the facts. Such is the way of the world these days.


One hopes that America will “still be okay” after the great fall it’s taken in the past few decades, but after witnessing the destruction of the country’s morals, values and reverence for our institutions, you can’t help but conclude, “probably not now.” Last Wednesday’s events didn’t help things.


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