Countless Republican dysfunctions turned the much-vaunted red wave into a puny trickle on Tuesday, despite historic tailwinds. Dems absolutely pummeled the GOP in small-dollar donations, and Republican grifters took huge cuts of the scant grassroots funding Republicans did manage to scrounge up.
That required Romney’s niece to scuttle forth repeatedly to rattle the begging bowl at increasingly skeptical fat cat donors. Some decided they’d given enough and sat the race out.
Rick Scott and Mitch McConnell, two of the most odious and ruthless douchebags in the Senate, knifed each other over campaign strategy and hilariously knee-capped one another on fundraising and spending with competing PACs. You can read all about it in a longish, schadenfreuderiffic article at this WaPo gift link.
But primary credit for Tuesday’s debacle has to go to Trump, a black hole of need, stupidity and malice who seems determined to keep right on sucking Republican prospects into an airless void until he either dies or Republicans figure out how to pry the cult out of his tiny fists:
As he jetted between his resort homes, Trump’s agenda, as it had been for years, remained transactional. He seemed to delight in the public and private attention he could attract. Up to the final day of the midterm campaign, he demanded constant minding by party leaders.
On the final Monday before the election, enraged by positive coverage of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and determined to claim credit for what he believed were going to be the party’s wins, Trump began phoning people to say he would announce his 2024 presidential bid that evening at a rally in Ohio. A coterie of Republicans, including McDaniel of the RNC, called and eventually begged him off. Instead he came up with a troll: He would announce that he would be announcing.
“The whole day was miserable,” one leading Republican said. “It was just: Who could get him on the phone and convince him not to hurt us?”
That last sentence — good lord. That party has been Trump’s bitch for going on seven years now, and they still don’t understand he doesn’t give a shit if he hurts them or not?
Writing for The Atlantic, Never Trumper David Frum says DeSantis has a shot at slaying the beast if he (DeSantis) has the stones for the fight:
Trump counts on running in 2024 more or less unopposed. He’s trying to frighten strong alternatives out of the race, leaving him the reality-TV blood sport of chewing up weaker alternatives as he chewed up the alternatives in 2016.
If DeSantis is in the game now, he has to play now…
Somebody who seeks to replace Trump atop the Republican Party cannot pretend Trump is not there. Trump is a huge personality who makes every contest a battle of personalities. Refusing to engage is not an option, because he will engage whether his target likes it or not. There’s no choice except to engage in turn.
So: man or mouse? DeSantis’s answer will shape the future not only of the Republican Party but of America.
Mouse, maybe. DeSantis is young enough to wait for Trump to move on to another con or croak. He has crossed Trump a time or two, but always in an indirect, passive-aggressive way. I can’t tell if it’s smart politics or cowardice.
Meanwhile, Trump is convinced he’s still big — it’s the party that got small. I find myself uncharacteristically wishing him long life and godspeed as he follows Republicans around, demanding another close-up.