It’s inevitable that whenever a professional sports season ends, content-starved media
publications try to extend fans’ interest a few days longer by offering something like “Way too early rankings for next year,” typically featuring commentary by folks who’ve probably already made plans for their next several months off.
The storylines are imminently predictable as the most recent winner is always positioned first or second in the pecking order. What about the last place finisher? How much will the number one draft pick help them?
Politics is hardly akin to football -- or any other sport -- but with the Democrats’ latest stupid impeachment trial not occupying our full attention these days, maybe we could use a different kind of “way to early” prognostication to delight the imagination. How about, “The way too early rankings for 2024 GOP candidates”?
With last November’s election still fresh in all of our memories and what happened afterwards stuck in many conservatives’ craw like a gooey glob of tobacco that just won’t dislodge itself, all eyes are on former President Donald Trump to see what he plans to do once the current Democrat-fostered witch hunt-of-the-moment is finished, hopefully sometime next week.
“The real suspense is what [Trump] will do after [the trial ends]. For as much as Dems and some Washington Republicans despise him, Trump remains extraordinarily popular with GOP voters.
“Polls show that a big majority of the 74.2 million voters who backed him last year would do so again, with a YouGov survey showing that 80 percent of Republicans would definitely or probably support him for president in 2024. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and others are furious with Trump, but they can read the polls, too.
“The last thing they want is to have Trump turn that firepower against the GOP for the 2022 midterms or possibly even start a third party.”
As usual, Goodwin is right-on with his observations. The longtime conservative commentator additionally noted that Trump has been strangely silent since he left office, which is immensely out of character for him. Maybe it’s because the Washington outsider no longer has access to social media; or it could be that he’s lying low by choice, building suspense for the moment when he’ll burst back onto the American political scene. Regardless, the lack of an authentic Trumpian response to this week’s show trial is eating at people.
The most likely explanation for Trump’s disappearance is he figured his brand and image needed a cooling off period after the white-hot events of the past year. Actually, thinking about it, Trump has been so visible for so long that a forced sequestration might end up being a good thing for him.
And his reluctance to show himself could also have something to do with the boneheaded arrogance of his nemeses. An old saying, attributed to Napoleon, goes “Never interrupt an enemy when he is making a mistake.”
If you only listened to the commentariat at CNN, MSNBC and the major establishment media networks, you wouldn’t realize the magnitude of the mistake Democrats are making now. They’re gleefully playing heavily edited videos and relaying tales of family suicides and bold boasts of saving the republic, but no one’s listening and it only makes them appear even more obsessed with dissing Trump than they were when he headlined every news report.
Some Republicans are making the same type of error, but the 2024 potential field is sticking pretty close to the pulse of the grassroots. The people have the votes, right?
In sports, it’s not always easy to predict what will happen next season since the top-level teams are invariably influenced by mundane true-to-life matters such as retirements, trades, cuts due to budgetary (salary) concerns, what have you. If anyone needs a concrete example, look at the difference between last year’s and this year’s New England Patriots. The Bill Belichick coached team decided to part ways with (now) 43-year-old Tom Brady and the GOAT QB took his act to Tampa and won the Super Bowl with a team that didn’t even make the playoffs the previous year.
Here, Trump plays a Brady-like role. Will he opt to retire after an illustrious career where he reached the pinnacle of fame and success? Trump may have been denied a second term (by someone, at least) but that didn’t tarnish his memory with the tens of millions of liberty-loving patriots who voted for him. This “season” may have ended unsatisfactorily, but he’s still seemingly got a lot left in the proverbial political tank. Making another try is possible. Either way, he’s ranked near the top.
But another likely scenario is Trump choosing a single candidate to back early in the nomination process and offering to help finance and raise money for that person as well as campaign for him or her. The best prospect might be his vice president, Mike Pence, though it’s not clear whether Pence would want to be so closely associated with his boss after that “Hang Mike Pence” episode at the capitol last month. Do the bitter feelings persist?
Pence might surmise he’d have a better shot going solo, but how to get Trump’s backers to join his cause without an enthusiastic and heartfelt endorsement from the big name -- as well as the aforementioned campaign assistance?
Other “teams” who could compete for Trump’s designee: “Team” Hawley, “Team” Kristi Noem, “Team” Ron DeSantis and possibly “Team” Don Jr. or Eric Trump. I don’t see it happening for the latter two.
There almost certainly will be an anti-Trump candidate in the field, as well as several GOP establishmentarians who might as well have “I hate Trump too” tattooed to their foreheads but who will keep their real feelings under wraps so as to maintain some semblance of party viability.
By nature and current circumstances, all of these ruling class wannabes would be ranked way below Trump or his designated successor. Nikki Haley, Marco Rubio and one of the current open-anti-Trumpers would be a more conceivable candidate. How about Sen. Ben Sasse? Or Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan? -- but he’s unlikely because of age and lack of name recognition. Plus, Hogan’s as bald as a cue ball and looks as though he could’ve fit right in as a last-minute replacement for an ailing member of Three Stooges.
The establishment pretender will bill him or herself as the “unity” candidate. You heard it here.
One would guess there’d be an outsider or two who would hope to follow Trump’s example. The Democrats had one last year -- Tom Steyer -- though he got nowhere. Anyone who wished to pull another Trump-like feat better have the same qualities as the trendsetter. Not realistic to expect it…unless it’s someone like Tucker Carlson.
With the direction of the GOP up in the air in the post-Trump era, it’s anybody’s guess as to who will emerge as the favorite to grab the party presidential nomination in 2024. Trump himself will have a lot to say about it, something we’re all hoping to hear once the impeachment disgrace fades from view. For now, rankings exist only in the minds of the ambitious.
2024 Presidential candidates