Trump 3.0 is a changed man — he’s now a loser

President Trump
Former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo)

Trump 3.0 is a changed man — he’s now a loser

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Democrats got their wish. Republicans, for the second time in a week, failed to get theirs. Former President Donald Trump has announced he’ll seek the GOP presidential nomination in 2024.

This means that for the next two years, while the party of the Left continues to wreck the economy and traduce the culture of the country, the only party that can provide an alternative could be ripping itself apart. The one hope is that Trump’s waning popularity and growing weakness accelerate him into irrelevance.

This is not a faint hope either, for there has been a sea change in conservative and right-wing attitudes against him. The Republican base, its national leaders, and its many successful governors increasingly regard his renomination as something that comedian Dave Chappelle might describe as “observably stupid.”

Conservatives who were pleased that Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 often expressed hope that high office would change him. But that didn’t happen. They optimistically suggested he’d grow into the Oval Office, smooth his rough edges, shed portions of his narcissism, vulgarity, and brutality, and insult and betray fewer people while learning to control his tantrums.

But all those glaring failings continued through his four years in power and beyond. They have been clear during his two years of falsehood and whining about his 2020 defeat at the hands of Joe Biden, previously an also-ran loser in two pitiful bids for the White House.

But just because Trump retains all the excruciating qualities he ever had doesn’t mean he’s unchanged. In one important respect, he is very different now. He is a loser. And he knows it. Every fiber of his bulky being betrays what he can’t admit — that he’s fast losing the support he once enjoyed and the confidence it fed within him.

He lost in the 2018 midterm elections, which were a referendum on his first two years as president. But, it might be argued, presidents generally do badly in the midterm of their first term — the average seat loss is 26 — so the lesson didn’t sink in then. But, however, he also lost in 2020 and now in the 2022 midterm elections. He has helped Democrats avoid the blowout defeat that public opinion on Biden, inflation, and much else suggested was coming. Republicans to their dismay and Democrats to their joy have watched him drag himself, the GOP, and its new blue-collar base to defeat again and again and again.

When Trump stepped on the descending escalator to the lobby of Trump Tower in 2015, basking in applause as it conveyed him to the floor where he would make his extraordinary White House announcement, he was self-belief personified. He carried that self-belief into the primaries, where he insouciantly bulldozed all his Republican rivals, and into the general election, where he dispatched Clinton in one of the most astonishing upsets in political history.

Almost every expert assumed he’d fail. Almost everyone, that is, except Trump himself. But the man does not have that self-confidence now. All his recent moves have been made from weakness. When he turned on Gov. Rob DeSantis (R-FL) and then Gov. Glen Youngkin (R-VA) with puerile name-calling in the aftermath of the midterm debacle, it was because they are the two most potent threats to his own nomination.

Sure, it is canny politics to try and clear the field for oneself. But to do so this early, four months before presidential wannabes usually emerge, looks like what it is — the defensive and nervous act of a candidate who knows his rivals are overtaking him. DeSantis, whom Trump absurdly sought to belittle as an “average” governor after he won in a 20-point landslide, is beating the Don in opinion polls 48%-37% in Iowa, 52%-37% in New Hampshire, 55%-35% in Georgia, and 43%-32% in Texas. That’s the first caucus state, the first primary state, and the two biggest red states siding with DeSantis over Trump already.

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Even before the election, an NBC poll found Republican voters regarded themselves as supporters of the GOP rather than of Trump by a margin of 62%-30%. That’s a swing of 30 points by the party base against the former president since 2020. And Trump has deserved to lose every point of it.

Republicans are signaling that they can do without him. They would prefer to do without him. Some, the true believers of his personality cult, want him to stay. But there are fewer of them than there are Democrats who regard him as the gift that keeps on giving. It is his presence that delivers them victory despite their choice of weak candidates — think Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Sen.-elect John Fetterman (D-PA), Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) — so why would they want him to go away? They love impeaching him, love running against him, and love suggesting he is a threat to democracy just as democracy is delivering them wins they do not deserve.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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