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CNN Trump. "Political disaster" for who?

Mission accomplished. CNN got some ratings back, Dems teed up Trump to be the GOP presidential candidate that's easiest to take down.

The only losers are independent voters that get to choose between a senile geezer who belongs in a memory care facility and a nut job. Want to get angry? Blame the legions of die-hard Trump supporters who are screwing the nation and are too stupid to understand how.

CNN Brings Donald Trump Back

What a disaster. But maybe he can be defeated in a big, needed brawl for the GOP nomination.

Peggy Noonan, WSJ

May 11, 2023 6:46 pm ET

Well, that was a disaster, a politically historic one. It situated Donald Trump as the central figure of the 2024 presidential cycle, certainly more compelling than the incumbent or the other competitors. It will have an impact on the campaign’s trajectory.

When it was over I thought, of CNN: Once again they’ve made Trump real.

It was one of those events in which you understood within 45 seconds what you were seeing. He was greeted by a standing ovation. The audience didn’t surprise itself by doing this; it knew how it felt.

From that moment Mr. Trump dominated.

He was focused, high-energy, looked capable in his insane way. Tanned, rested and ready. Actually he looked pretty much as he did in 2016; on Wednesday night at least, age hadn’t taken the round side of its ball-peen hammer to him.

He steamrolled the moderator, talking over her, dismissing her, as they stood together, as nasty. He spoke with what seemed like conviction, backed down on nothing, made things up.

It was salutary in that it was a reminder of Donald Trump’s power. But it was all misconceived.

CNN is taking incoming fire from everyone. Should it? Yes. It was early to play around like this, to introduce all the proto-presidential hoopla, to give him this solo boost, to re-enact so showily all the careful respect they showed him in 2016.

I don’t suppose we’ll ever know, but one got the impression the network agreed to a lot of conditions to get the get. He was addressed as “Mr. President” throughout when, considering the circumstances and after Jan. 6, Mr. Trump would have been just fine. He gave no sign he saw the moderator as formidable. As for the audience, a local New Hampshire official seemed to sigh in a text: “I assume that was part of the deal.”

That wasn’t Gov. Chris Sununu’s broad GOP. It certainly wasn’t representative of New Hampshire in general or of New Hampshire on primary day, when undeclared voters can cast ballots for any presidential candidate in either party. The Republicans in the audience seemed more like supporters of the Trump-endorsed candidates who went down in flames last year. They sounded to me like the constricting part of the party. They chuckled when he talked about sexual assault.

It all sort of dragged us back into a hopeless repetition of the past: “Crazy Nancy,” “rigged election,” “whackjob.” Like a harrowing memory endlessly looping back on itself.

If I were the president of CNN I’d feel like the Alec Guinness character at the end of “The Bridge on the River Kwai.” Suddenly he realizes that all his work, his entire mission, only helped the bad people he meant to oppose. “What have I done?”

The interview questions were predominantly mainstream rehashes that producers thought might make news. They were a step removed from actual debates going on within the Republican Party Mr. Trump wants to lead.

Ramesh Ponnuru in the Washington Post offered the kind of questions he wished had been asked: Why have so many high-level officials of your own administration, including an attorney general, national security adviser, defense secretary and two communications directors, turned against you? Are you bad at hiring people? With Republicans holding both the House and Senate in the first two years of your presidency, why didn’t you get funding for the border wall? Were you rolled by Speaker Paul Ryan, or did you just drop the ball?

Mr. Trump’s critics, foes and competitors will say that he often lied. Of course he did, over and over. It’s what he does. Dogs bark, bears relieve themselves in the woods; we can’t keep “discovering” this.


Of Course Trump Is Afraid to DebateMay 4, 2023

Biden vs. Trump in 2024? Don’t Be So SureApril 27, 2023

Artificial Intelligence in the Garden of EdenApril 20, 2023

He lied about the 2020 election (he lost it, it’s been probed and adjudicated), the Jan. 6 riots (there is no evidence, written or otherwise, that he issued an order to send in 10,000 National Guard troops, and his acting defense secretary testified that he was never given such direction), his tax cuts (they were neither the biggest in history nor bigger than Ronald Reagan’s) and the wall (he didn’t build one across the border with Mexico.)

He spun out assertions, charges and interpretations. His special talent, his truest superpower, is seeming to believe whatever pops out of his mouth, and sticking to it. Observers shake their heads despairingly: “He lies and people believe him.” I think it’s worse than that. He lies and a lot of supporters can tell it’s a lie—they know from their own memory it’s a lie, that, say, Jan. 6 wasn’t a “beautiful day” of “patriots” full of “love”—but they don’t mind. They admire his sheer ability to spin it out.

You’re tickled by his boldness, his fearlessness, and when the lie drives the media and the stuffed shirts mad, you’re delighted. He’s subverting the elites and the corrupt power structures they’ve erected. And the great thing is you’re in on the joke, on the mischief. You get to take part.

In a big lonely country that has power. I suspect he knows this.

To a Republican who might vote for him, who’d consider it but isn’t committed, Mr. Trump likely came across Thursday night as on point, committed and informed, though a little wild around the edges, and maybe not totally trustworthy. But I imagine a lot of wavering Republicans might be thinking to themselves: inflation, crime, interest rates, senility, we’re slipping, Joe Biden went too far left . . .

I’m not sure people are nostalgic for Mr. Trump, I think they’re nostalgic for this: “I could buy a car in 2019.” They may come to think Mr. Trump’s malice and crazy are a price they can pay to get back to how it was when they felt less besieged.

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They might assume he’s learned at least some practical lessons from his mistakes in 2017-21. But he hasn’t. That’s what the town hall told us: He’s exactly the same guy.

For months I have held in my head two separate and opposing thoughts. One is that the more Republican candidates get into the race the better the chances for Donald Trump. In 2016 in a field of 17 all he needed was a plurality to win, and he almost always got it. Therefore, Republicans should discourage new entrants.

The second thought is that this strategy is weird and limiting. Nothing gets said, no policy or meaning of things is discussed. Everything feels frozen. It’s a strategy that’s all about Donald Trump’s fate. It turns the primary into a waiting room. It’s passive and stokes an air of inevitability. It almost disenfranchises the half or more of the party that doesn’t want Mr. Trump, that needs to hear other voices. It renders the race lifeless, bloodless. It ain’t human. And politics must be human.

I now think Republicans should do the opposite of the Democrats and have a big, needed brawl—wake this thing up, talk about meaning, have the argument, brawl it out.

It’s not all up to Mr. Trump and his fate. Nothing is inevitable. He is evitable.

It is a party with a great history. Maybe it’s dying, but if it is it shouldn’t be like this, without a last, hellacious fight. What the heck. Everyone into the pool.

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