He was thinking, “This guy’s a celebrity and my wife likes him.”
What else would he be thinking?
If Trump cared about what was best for the party, he wouldn’t be running a vendetta against Brian Kemp in Georgia that’s apt to divide Republicans and end with Stacey Abrams becoming the next governor. If Trump cared about what was best for his own MAGA movement, he wouldn’t have redefined it so that its core issue is believing he was cheated in an election he lost by seven million votes.
So one has to laugh when Trumpers say how “disappointed” they are that he chose one fake MAGA guy in the Pennsylvania Senate race over a different fake MAGA guy. “Disappointed” implies that there was some expectation as to how Trump would conduct himself. What was that expectation?
And why should he care if anyone’s disappointed? He’ll pay no price for it among his fans.
“I have enormous respect for President Trump. I was honored to have his endorsement in PA. Twice,” Sean Parnell, the former Trump-backed candidate, who dropped out of the race after an abuse allegation surfaced from his estranged ex-wife, wrote on Twitter. “But I’m disappointed by this. Oz is the antithesis of everything that made Trump the best president of my lifetime.”…
Longtime Republican operative Roger Stone couldn’t help joining the pile-on either, writing on Telegram, “Wait? President [Trump] endorsed this guy?” while attaching a photo of the doctor, who rose to infamy after years of hosting a daytime television show with guests like Michelle Obama.
Lesser-known pro-Trump media personalities also stepped into the fold, including Townhall columnist Kurt Schlichter, who wrote: “It’s pretty hard for me to fully express how disappointed in Trump I am for endorsing Oz.”
“Wait. Is there anything conservative about Dr. Oz?” Blaze TV’s Allie Beth Stuckey added.
At least those critics were willing to hold Trump himself responsible for the endorsement. Poor Mo Brooks, who was unswervingly loyal to Trump before he was discarded by him like trash due to his poor polling, still can’t bring himself to blame Trump directly for anything:
This is happening because Trump’s surrounded himself by staff who are on McConnell’s payroll & hostile to the MAGA agenda. Everybody telling Trump who to endorse in primaries works for The Swamp.
They played him. Again. https://t.co/SoD656HT0V
— Mo Brooks (@MoBrooks) April 10, 2022
I’d bet good money that Trump’s staff favored McCormick on balance. Not only is McCormick married to former Trump staffer Dina Powell and has other top Trumpers working for him, like Hope Hicks and Stephen Miller (Miller has now quit in tribute to his leader), he has a bit of Bush-era Republican authenticity to him that Oz lacks. You don’t think “Republican” when you think Oz, you think Oprah. And this:
Mehmet Oz old show helping people understand transgender: “This extraordinary condition is not as rare as you might think. It’s estimated as many as 3 million Americans believe they were born the wrong sex. Trans shakes up all of our ideas about what makes us male or female.” pic.twitter.com/4aN0Xsiuqt
— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) April 10, 2022
McCormick would also be a better match-up for the GOP against the likely winner of Pennsylvania’s Democratic primary, John Fetterman. Fetterman is an in-your-face progressive populist, a former small-town mayor who’d draw a sharp contrast with an effete celebrity doctor. One recent Democratic internal poll found Oz trailing Fetterman by nine in a head-to-head race while McCormick led Fetterman by three. McCormick even went to Mar-a-Lago last week to kiss Trump’s ass in person, something that must have been distasteful for a West Point grad turned Bronze Star recipient turned turned Ph.D turned ultra-mega-successful hedge-fund manager. But he did it anyway because he wanted that endorsement.
Trump didn’t care. And, to my bafflement, many of his fans are baffled that he didn’t:
“President Trump was very out of sync in picking Oz,” says Dave Ball, chair of the Washington County Republican Party. “I’d like to know who it is who lives in Pennsylvania that knows the voters well told Trump to pick Oz,” he says. I think that President Trump very, very seldom does anything that’s not thought out and doesn’t have a very reasoned and logical basis, but, for whatever reason, in this particular instance, he chose to ignore all of that and endorse Oz.”
Ball says he fielded calls all day from conservatives unhappy with the former president’s decision. They complained about the reasons Trump gave — noting his celebrity status, Harvard credentials, New York Times bestseller status, and that Oz praised the former presidents health, “People have been calling me all day and asking ‘What the hell was he thinking?’”
Note again the insinuation that some influential confidant or staffer must have steered the impetuous and erratic Trump away from his supposedly keen instincts and diligent deliberative process. He probably chose Oz in the end because he thinks having a senator named “Oz” (like the book!) would be cooler and more memorable than having one named “McCormick.”
I wonder how he feels about having a senator named “Fetterman” because that’s now what we’re looking at.
All of this leaves MAGA true believers in a tough spot. If Oz ends up winning the primary, it’s a sign that there’s less policy and ideological content to Trumpism than they thought. At the end of the day, if Trump says the blow-dried RINO is the choice for true patriots, most of the true patriots will mindlessly pull the lever for him. If instead Oz ends up losing the primary, it’s a sign that Trump is losing his grip on the party and a serious 2024 primary challenge is likely. Which, for populists who prefer DeSantis to Trump, would be a perfectly fine outcome. But for those who’ll accept no substitutes for 45 as their next GOP presidential nominee, there’s now no truly good outcome in the offing in Pennsylvania.
Oh well. McCormick’s going down swinging, in any case:
Exit question: If Trump (supposedly) dumped Mo Brooks because Brooks once urged Republicans to look forward towards 2022 instead of backward at 2020, why hasn’t he also dumped the candidate he’s endorsed for Senate in North Carolina, Ted Budd? Budd has gone much further than Brooks has in disputing the Big Lie, calling Biden “the legitimate president” last September and agreeing with an interviewer that Biden got many more votes than Trump did. Cut him loose, Donald!