[guest post by Dana]
The Republican, er, Retrumplican Party continues to be exhausted by the former president who just can’t stop relitigating the past instead of looking to the future:
A cadre of aides and advisers working to tame Donald Trump’s obsession with the 2020 election, including his fixation with debunked voter fraud theories and ballot audits, are realizing the task at hand is much tougher than they thought.
Over the past few weeks, Trump has faced pleas from inside his orbit to move the ball forward as Republicans approach the 2022 midterm elections, when the party hopes to regain control of both congressional chambers, and brace for his high-profile return to the campaign trail. Several former advisers and allies still close to the 45th President said he is under mounting pressure to concentrate on promoting GOP policy priorities and defining his successor, rather than re-litigating his failed reelection campaign.
But the former President has brushed those voices aside, choosing instead to listen to a crowd of characters both on television and in his wider circle who have encouraged him to keep his focus on the 2020 election.
Trump’s preoccupation with the election is expected to take center stage on Saturday, when he kicks off his first post-presidential summer with an address to the North Carolina Republican Party. The speech, a preview of the campaign-style rallies he plans to start hosting next month, will signal to what degree he intends to ignore advice from those imploring him to redirect his message toward the future. Because it will be his first public appearance in three months, sources close to the former President said the tack he decides to take will be critical in setting the course going forward — not only for him, but for all Republicans on the ballot in 2022.
But wait. Didn’t Leader Kevin McCarthy himself excoriate Liz Cheney for relitigating the past rather than focusing on the future? Why, yes he did. And in fact, that was the basis of ousting her from her leadership position. However, Cheney was directly responding to Trump’s own and ongoing statements about the past election and calling him out for the Big Lie.
Unsurprisingly, Trump is apparently bored by the real issues of the day instead remains hyper-focused on relitigating the past:
Sources familiar with Trump’s thinking describe him as bored by the issues his advisers wish he would focus on — from threats to America’s energy infrastructure to increased inflation and other economic concerns. He is so obsessed with his unsuccessful quest for reelection, one ex-Trump official said, that he has been moving himself toward irrelevance.
“It’s like a slow leak of a balloon that is now laying on the floor,” is how the ex-Trump official described it.
But the real question is how will Trump’s MAGA base respond to a speech primarily focused on “Stop the Steal” grievances? Trump is counting on them to still be just as angry as he is about the alleged election fraud. So much so, that he has lately been indulging in “unhinged and false notions about being “reinstated” as commander-in-chief…claim[ing] the Arizona audit could lead to similar investigations in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Georgia that would ultimately prove he won the 2020 election…” According to his fantastical notions, Trump believes that he will be reinstated to office sometime this summer, as Charles C.W. Cooke at National Review confirmed:
I can attest, from speaking to an array of different sources, that Donald Trump does indeed believe quite genuinely that he — along with former senators David Perdue and Martha McSally — will be “reinstated” to office this summer after “audits” of the 2020 elections in Arizona, Georgia, and a handful of other states have been completed. I can attest, too, that Trump is trying hard to recruit journalists, politicians, and other influential figures to promulgate this belief — not as a fundraising tool or an infantile bit of trolling or a trial balloon, but as a fact.
It will be tempting for weary conservatives to dismiss this information as “old news” or as “an irrelevance.” It will be tempting, too, to downplay the enormity of what is being claimed, or to change the subject, or to attack the messengers by implying that they must “hate” Trump and his voters. But such temptations should be assiduously avoided. We are not talking here about a fringe figure within the Republican tent, but about a man who hopes to make support for his outlandish claims “a litmus test of sorts as he decides whom to endorse for state and federal contests in 2022 and 2024.” Conservatives understand why it mattered that the press lost its collective mind over Russia after Trump’s fair-and-square victory in 2016. They understand why it mattered that Hillary Clinton publicly described Trump as an “illegitimate president” who had “stolen” the election. And they understand why it mattered that Jimmy Carter insisted that Trump had “lost the election” and been “put into office because the Russians interfered.” They should understand why this matters, too.
The scale of Trump’s delusion is quite startling. This is not merely an eccentric interpretation of the facts or an interesting foible, nor is it an irrelevant example of anguished post-presidency chatter. It is a rejection of reality, a rejection of law, and, ultimately, a rejection of the entire system of American government.
Can America really handle another insane season of Trump? Or will Trump’s flight of fantasy fizzle out? Well, not if he has anything to say about it. He won’t give up, give in, or back down. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that when Trump is attacked, doesn’t get his way, or loses power, you better buckle up.