Donald Trump is on the skids. It won’t take much to knock him out. So far, Democrats appear to be sticking with Joe Biden rather than casting more than flirtatious glances at other, more left wing candidates.
Not so fast. As Henry Olsen reminds us in the Washington Post today, Trump is far from finished. The heck with the popular vote. The only votes that count are getting to 270 in the electoral college. Trump squeaked by in 2016. He could do it again. Trump, after all, may be most dangerous when he appears to be on the ropes.
Tomorrow night Trump will kick off his re-election campaign in Orlando, Florida. He’ll be pumped. Fox News says that his supporters are already lining up to see the great man. Trump has a lot to prove. He’s smarting from elite disdain about his win in 2016 and wants to show that it was no fluke. He’s already fired his pollsters for delivering the message that all is not hunky-dory with his political fortunes. Maybe he’ll fire the rest of the campaign team, including Brad Parscale. The media will talk about a campaign in crisis. But will it matter? Ever since he rode down the golden escalator at Trump Tower, Trump the man has lurched from one crisis to the next, while retaining the loyalty of his adoring fans. For them, at least, the act has not worn thin.
Trump continues to throw them red meat. Today the State Department announced that it would terminate foreign aid to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala for failing to stem immigration to America. Trump’s move is bound to create more chaos — and, incidentally, immigrants — but having failed to build a wall, he wants to look as though he is doing something big and important. The importance that Trump attaches to appearances rather than substance was underscored when ABC News released outtakes of its interview with Trump, where he expresses his dismay and exasperation that White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney had the temerity to cough during his interview and insists on a fresh new take.
Still, Trump is on treacherous terrain when it comes to foreign policy. There his skills as impresario are suffering a setback. Another $300 billion in tariffs on China will incense American business. Then there is Iran. The administration is supposedly drawing up plans for a so-called tactical strike on an Iranian facility that is helping with nuclear research. It would be hard to think of a more dunderheaded move, one that could easily escalate into a wider Middle East war, dwarfing the Iraq War in its significance and costs. For Trump, who won the presidency by lambasting the Iraq War, to enter a fresh conflict would be a supreme irony indeed.