early and often

Trump Is Running for President to Restore His Perfect America

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It wasn’t a surprise, or timed particularly well (in his own estimation, he wanted to do this much earlier), and was about as welcome to some leaders of his own party as a house guest who overstayed his visit. But nonetheless, Donald J. Trump officially became the sixth defeated ex-president to seek a comeback. Only one, Grover Cleveland, actually succeeded, not that the 45th president has anything else in common with the 22nd (and 24th), a model of stubborn integrity.

But in remarks from his Mar-a-Lago home, Trump offered a straightforward Paradise Lost argument that his brilliantly successful administration, featuring “the greatest economy in the history of the world,” had been taken away and needed to be restored. You would have never guessed the man was impeached twice or had inspired an insurrection and a mass movement of election denial. He didn’t so much as mention his attempted election coup or the attack on the Capitol he incited. And he did not allude to his Republican critics, much less the existential threat posed by the GOP governor of the state where he lives, Ron DeSantis.

He did pledge to eliminate early voting and voting by machines in red meat for 2020 deniers, though he stopped well short of repeating lies about the election being stolen.

His forward-directed promises about what a second Trump administration would accomplish were similarly backward looking: a big emphasis on border security and law and order, aimed at usurping the “rotting” Democratic-controlled cities.

It was all a comparison of the America of 2020 and America today. There was not a word about DeSantis (whom Trump called “Ron DeSanctimonious” very recently) or even the “Broken Old Crow” Mitch McConnell. It’s as though these Republican pols and MAGA wannabes were beneath mentioning, and that the GOP would have won big had it just compared Biden’s performance to Trump’s.

Trump did, however, in the passage that commanded the wildest applause from his audience, promise to redouble efforts to “drain the swamp,” banning lobbying by former members of Congress and a constitutional term-limits amendment (which will never happen).

It was an unusually disciplined performance from this undisciplined man, and represented an effort to float above the attacks on him as having ruined his party and its midterm prospects.

The ball is back in the court of those Republicans who would displace Trump. He remains, until actual voters prove otherwise, the front-runner for the 2024 presidential nomination. Yes, a significant number of former MAGA enthusiasts are pining for DeSantis, who is an impressive hater in a party that wants to “own the libs” above all. But Trump’s the king of the MAGA mountain until he is toppled.

Trump Is Running Again to Restore His Perfect America