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Low-Energy Don Hits the Campaign Trail

By John Rolfe / Red Hook, N.Y.

Donald Trump’s third bid will be a stale rerun
Donald Trump’s third bid will be a stale rerun

For anyone who isn’t a member of MAGA Nation, is there any more wearying news than the fact that Donald Trump is finally actively campaigning for his party’s 2024 Presidential nomination? According to many news reports, campaign donations are down, the GOP is short of enthusiasm, and a fair number of Republican voters would prefer another candidate.

Even Trump seems tired of the whole thing.

Trump is like a chronic wasting disease that ravages the spirit, mind and body politic. It has been eight long years since he announced his first bid for the White House and it is absolutely sickening that he is still eligible to hold federal office. In quainter, saner times, such a candidate’s political career would be in smoking ruin for having an extramarital affair with a porn star, let alone engaging in a naked attempt to fraudulently overturn a national election.

After a tepid announcement in November of his intention to run, Trump’s first appearances on the stump — at party clambakes in New Hampshire and South Carolinawere decidedly small by his standards. Now a caricature of his blustering self, he delivered run-of-the-mill speeches and summoned to mind his derision of 2016 challenger Jeb Bush as “low-energy Jeb.” Trump claimed to be “more angry” than ever, but didn’t really sound like it while serving up his stale rants about the “stolen” 2020 election and rapists pouring across America’s southern border.

Along with mainstream media’s now boilerplate wishful thinking that the end is (finally) near for Trump, there is much speculation that his considerable legal woes are curbing his enthusiasm for a second term. It certainly seemed like his being caught with a trove of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago palace would spell his doom, but he caught a huge break when President Joe Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence were found to possess smaller amounts of the same kind of stuff.

Even with Special Counsel Jack Smith looking into it, I’m still inclined to believe Attorney General Merrick Garland now has a window he will use to issue a stern tut-tut-tut to all parties and close the matter with a minimum of political upheaval.

Joe Biden’s document woes have given Trump a big boost for 2024
Joe Biden’s document woes and still-low approval ratings will help Trump's prospects for 2024

Meanwhile, legal pots continue to boil in Washington (Smith is looking into Trump’s efforts to block the lawful transfer of power to Biden), Georgia (Fulton County DA Fani Willis may charge Trump for pressuring state officials to reverse the results of the 2020 election), and New York (where the Trump Organization was found guilty of tax fraud and the former President pled the Fifth 400 times in a deposition before State Attorney General Letitia James). Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg is still sniffing around Trump’s hush money payments to porn actress paramour Stormy Daniels.

One or all of these cases won’t derail Trump politically. Accused or convicted felons are not prohibited from running for the Presidency. Even if he somehow ends up in jail — a process that will surely take years — Trump’s base will avidly back him to the bitter end and beyond. That in turn will keep the GOP in thrall to its worst Trumpist impulses despite many in the party having become woke to the harsh reality that he turns off way too many moderate and independent voters and now even some on the right.

So we’re all in for another indefinite period of exhausting, nauseating bushwa-drenched sturm, drang and whining about investigative “witch hunts.” According to Trump, each and every one is the biggest and worst in the history of the world. Everything he says about the corruption of the “swamp” and the deep state that is out to get him sounds robotically rote now.

Our justice system has bent over three ways from backwards to be fair — taking years to compile evidence, employing multiple grand juries, appointing independent special masters and even Trump appointees to oversee inquiries, and considering as many appeals as Trump can finance. But that will never matter to his supporters and allies. To him and them he will always be an unjustly persecuted victim. Political theater and revenge will remain on the menu while the nation’s more pressing problems are ignored.

Likely primary foes Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley and Larry Hogan will be fodder for Trump’s trademark insults
Likely primary foes Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley and Larry Hogan will be fodder for Trump’s trademark insults

We’ll also be treated to more juvenile schoolyard dust-ups between Trump and his challengers, some of whom who are doing their best to ape his style and policies. Trump has already accused Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis of being disloyal for daring to run against him and plans to “kick him in the nuts.” And while the GOP’s radical wing in the House will do its hairy beast to torment and neuter President Biden, we can all rest easy knowing Trump will be out there vowing to treat refugees more inhumanely than they already are and rid the nation of transsexuals and drag queens.

There will be much, much more and much, much worse, but I’m blocking. The election is still more than 600 days away and I’m already worn out.


John Rolfe is a former senior editor for Sports Illustrated for Kids, a longtime columnist for the Poughkeepsie Journal/USA Today Network, and author of The Goose in the Bathroom: Stirring Tales of Family Life. His school bus drivin’ blog “Hellions, Mayhem and Brake Failure” is parked on his website ( with the meter running.



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