A second Trump administration would be plagued by 'marginal figures bearing bad advice': conservative
Conservative Republican President Ronald Reagan famously said that someone who agreed with him 80 percent of the time was an 80 percent ally and not a 20 percent enemy. And Democratic New York City Mayor Ed Koch expressed a similar philosophy when he said, "If you agree with me on nine out of 12 issues, vote for me. If you agree with me on 12 out of 12 issues, you should see a psychiatrist."
But former President Donald Trump had a very different political philosophy from Reagan and Koch during his four years in the White House. Trump not only angrily railed against Democrats who disagreed with him — he was equally quick to demonize right-wing Republicans, including members of his own administration. The list of Republicans who Trump now despises even though they once served in his administration is a long one, ranging from former Vice President Mike Pence to former National Security Adviser John Bolton to former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to two former U.S. attorneys general: Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions.
Reagan had strong opinions but also welcomed a vigorous debate, including debates with liberal Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill; Trump prefers loyalists and unquestioning yes-men.
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In an article published by the conservative National Review on March 22, journalist Michael Brendan Dougherty poses a question: What would a second Trump Administration look like if he won the 2024 GOP presidential nomination and defeated the Democratic nominee in the general election? And Dougherty concludes that Trump's preference for obedient loyalists would not serve him well.
"Trump could barely keep enough people on staff to have a functioning cabinet and White House," Dougherty recalls. "His orders and wishes — withdrawing from Syria, banning transgenderism in the military — were regularly reversed, ignored, or disobeyed by 'the White House' weeks after he issued them. Trump turns against his staff the way a soap opera character turns against antagonists: loudly and with an eye for ratings. Trump called his former national security adviser, John Bolton, a 'moron' whom he 'used to intimidate' foreign leaders. For his part, Bolton's memoir of his time in the Trump White House, 'The Room Where It Happened,' portrays Trump as completely unfit for office and as a fool who didn't know that Finland wasn't part of Russia."
Dougherty notes that if Trump were to return to the White House on January 20, 2025, the "top jobs' in his second administration would be the "hardest to fill."
"It is quite clear that anyone who gets on the wrong side of Trump, which was almost everyone by the end, will be subjected to a public lashing from the boss — one that potentially comes with ongoing personal-security concerns," Dougherty observes. "Trump seems also to have lost the political partnerships he had with his son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka. That may be a positive feature for some conservatives, who loathed their moderating influence. But overall, it increases the chance of Trump's second administration beginning the way his first one ended: with the president isolated in the White House, taking meetings with marginal figures who come bearing bad advice."
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The conservative journalist continues, "Trump got famous for firing people. But it's the hiring skill that makes for a successful presidency."
Of course, it remains to be seen who will ultimately win the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination. If Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis enters the race, the rivalry between him and former ally Trump could get even uglier. The Lincoln Project's Rick Wilson, a Never Trump conservative and former GOP strategist, has commented that DeSantis has yet to fully experience the weight of Trump's inherent viciousness and cruelty — and that when push comes to shove, Trump will crush DeSantis.
In contrast, The National Review's Noah Rothman argues that Trumpworld's response to recent comments from DeSantis underscore Trump's "fragility."
The Florida governor, discussing the possibility of Trump being criminally indicted by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, Jr. with television host Piers Morgan, accused Bragg of "pursuing a political agenda and weaponizing the office." But he also took a swipe at Trump, albeit a mild one.
DeSantis told Morgan, "I don't know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair. I can't speak to that. Well, there's a lot of speculation about what the underlying conduct is. That is purported to be it, and the reality is: that's just outside my wheelhouse. I mean, that's just not something that I can speak to."
Compared to the scathing criticism that Wilson, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, attorney George Conway, the writers at The Bulwark and other conservative Never Trumpers aim at Trump on a regular basis, DeSantis' comment was mild. But as Rothman points out, that comment triggered Trump's loyalists in a big way.
In an article published on March 21, Rothman comments, "The fragility DeSantis' artful needling exposed puts the lie to the notion that Trump and the delicate egos with whom he is surrounded can take the kind of heat that they routinely dish out. For all who are willing to see it, this display of brittleness reveals how false the MAGA right's bravado truly is. And DeSantis isn't even in the game yet. If this is how Trump and his acolytes respond to a glancing blow, just imagine how they'll respond when the Florida governor starts throwing real punches."
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Read Michael Brendan Dougherty’s full article for The National Reviewat this link.
Read Noah Rothman’s full article for The National Reviewat this link.
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