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The 2024 case for - and against - Donald Trump

AP Photo/John Raoux

Even though we’re still in the 2022 Congressional midterm cycle, don’t kid yourselves. The jockeying for position between the would-be Republican nominees for president in 2024 have been underway for months. Many expected candidates have already made pilgrimages to Iowa and New Hampshire. Others like Tim Scott of South Carolina have begun releasing books.

With Joe Biden virtually flat-lined at 42% job approval for months, more inflation and pain ahead promised by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, 51% of companies reversing course on employment and enacting hiring freezes or layoffs, you have to go back Jimmy Carter’s 1980 reelection campaign to find a more vulnerable Democratic incumbent against whom to run.

Over the next few weeks and months (yes, the GOP field could be that large), I will do my level best to give you the objective case to make for and against one Republican contender. I do so as the political equivalent of a resident of Switzerland. This is merely meant to capture, at least in part, the debate over who we’re going to see in future debates. We started last week with Ron DeSantis, and now we turn to Former President Donald J. Trump.

No one in American politics has ever been more controversial or polarizing, certainly not in my lifetime. I am neither pro-Trump nor anti-Trump. Full disclosure: Trump was not my 1st, 5th, or 10th, choice in the 2016 primary, although I enthusiastically voted for him in both 2016 and 2020, for two completely different reasons.

In 2016, I voted for him because he was not Hillary Clinton. In 2020, I voted for him because of the Abraham Accords and Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Coney Barrett. I was disgusted by what took place on 1/6, including Trump’s behavior in the days and weeks immediately following, but certainly no more disgusted than I was at Al Gore’s behavior in overtime period of the 2000 election, or at Hillary Clinton’s behavior in the attempt to derail the Trump administration before it ever began.

The reasons Donald Trump should be the nominee in 2024:

1. The Supreme Court – many potential candidates would probably pick fine justices should vacancies arise, but no one had given a list from which they’d choose, and stick to that promise. And the results of his three picks on the Court remain his greatest legacy. There could easily be two conservative retirements that would need replacing and maybe one liberal retirement. Trump has a proven record of being dependable on this issue.

2. The Abraham Accords – Thanks to Jared Kushner, Mike Pompeo, Robert O’Brien, Avi Horowitz as well as foreign leaders across the Middle East, this set of game-changing agreements between former enemies would resume after the chaos of the Biden foreign policy, resulting in the isolation of Iran.

3. Energy policy – a total reversal of Biden green policy is expected with a return of Donald Trump. And that would be a very good thing for the economy.

4. Draining the Swamp – lots of promise the first go-round, but probably a lot more energy focused on that this time, especially after the raid on Mar-A-Lago. Whomever is the next Republican president needs to send someone to State and the Pentagon, and virtually all of the federal agencies, with a scythe to clear cut the careerists there. Trump would be among the most motivated to do so.

5. The wall on the Southern border would most likely be completed in a second Trump term. About 458 miles were built the first time. Anything close to that again would just about seal the border off.

6. Tax cuts-regulatory reform – If past is prologue, Trump would reverse the calamity of the Biden economic chaos in concert with a Republican Congress. Again, other candidates would probably do similar measures, but Trump has a track record coming in.

7. Minimal/no learning curve – leave the personality/ego aside for a moment. The fact is when Trump came into power in 2017, he had the wrong staff and it took a while for him to get a feel for what the job was. Theoretically, he would use the transition time between election and inauguration to assemble a better team and hit the ground running. He wouldn’t have to relearn how to do the job.

The reasons Donald Trump shouldn’t be the nominee in 2024

1. Quite simply, he’d be a lame duck on day one. Democrats in Congress would pull every stall tactic possible to delay implementation of anything. Unless Republicans get to 60 in the Senate, virtually every policy item will grind to a crawl.

2. Trump lost in 2020 (yes, he lost) in part because his personality drove away suburban women and seniors that had voted for him in 2016. Yes, he generates more votes for himself than anyone possibly could, but he also generates more votes against him than anyone else in history. Even though economic conditions and CRT in school/wokeness have probably reeled some of suburbia back into the GOP fold, many of those votes he lost in 2020 will never return to Trump, but would otherwise vote for a Republican candidate.

3. The soap opera – The entire DC establishment, left and right, including the media, will never give Trump or us, for that matter, a moment’s peace for four years. If Trump had a record of being disciplined, I’d be less concerned. Trump has shown he cannot let an attack on him go unanswered, so the strategy of the anti-Trump bubble in NY-DC would be to attack him 24/7 and draw him into constant fights in order to distract him from getting anything done. There are real issues and problems in this country to solve. They require a president to be fully engaged and focused on those, not street fights with the I Hate Trump club in the nation’s capital.

4. Staffing – Not exactly one of Trump’s strong suits in the first term, with a few notable exceptions. Pompeo at State and O’Brien as national security advisor were exceptional. Mnuchin was capable at Treasury, although he was horrible at optics. Outside a handful of other good picks, great ones for the judiciary, many of his other cabinet picks and advisors were a range between questionable and disastrous. He may pick better this time around, but he doesn’t have a strong track record from which to make that claim.

5. The mercurial personality – Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell was the greatest ally to what became Donald Trump’s greatest legacy – the program to put over 200 judges on the Circuit Courts and three Supreme Court justices. Quite simply, no one else could have taken those nominations and got them through the pipeline as fast and efficiently as McConnell did. And yet Trump makes McConnell an unnecessary enemy. Trump has plenty of enemies already. He need not create them within his own party.

6. Trump fatigue – When Trump came down the escalator in 2015, he was new. He was different. The MAGA shtick worked because people lived vicariously through this willingness to take on all comers and fight. It’s going to be 2023, if and when he announces, and thus far, the shtick hasn’t really changed at all in 8 years. It’s no longer new. It’s no longer different. The campaign has to be about what he’s going to do and why he has the experience to do it, not to get even for what wrongs he thinks were done to him.

7. The age factor – If he were elected, he would turn 79 in the summer of his first year back in office. He would be 82 his last year. He may have much more mental acuity during these four years than Joe Biden has shown, but with all that is facing the country, do we want to take that chance after seeing what age has done to the current president?

Future columns will focus on Ted Cruz, Tim Scott, Mike Pompeo, Rick Scott, Larry Hogan, Chris Christie, Tom Cotton, Asa Hutchinson, Doug Ducey, Glenn Youngkin, and anyone else who is signaling they’re going to run. And we have lots of time to prepare.

Duane Patterson has been the senior producer of Salem Radio Networks’ Hugh Hewitt Show since its inception in July 2000. He is the host of the Aftershow podcast, heard exclusively within www.hughniverse.com, the troll-free subscriber site for Hugh Hewitt Show premium listeners and viewers, and can be followed on Twitter @Radioblogger.

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