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[Patricia Murphy] Donald Trump and the eleven dwarfs

By Korea Herald

Published : Aug. 16, 2023 - 05:30

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You all already know Donald Trump, the favorite for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. But have you met the supporting characters in his story?

There’s Grumpy, the Florida governor, and Friendly, the senator from South Carolina. You know Smarty, the former UN ambassador, and Screamy, the New Jersey governor who helped Trump get elected the first time around, but had a change of heart after Trump was in the White House.

There’s Talky, the young businessman who is full of new ideas, and Ho-Hum, the governor of North Dakota who has loads of policy prescriptions but is unknown to most voters.

There are 11 players in all, depending on who you count as really running. And they all could be viable candidates in their own ways, with resumes and records and personal stories you might be impressed by. But as Trump blazes the presidential campaign trail with drama and rage and pizazz and controversy, the other Republicans seem to make themselves smaller every day.

The biggest riddle right now is why nearly every candidate is adding lines to their stump speeches that support Trump’s insistence that the entire criminal justice system is rigged against him. Don’t blame Trump, his opponents are essentially telling voters, he’s the real victim here.

That was the theme at US Rep. Ashley Hinson’s BBQ Bash in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, when Gov. Ron DeSantis never mentioned Trump, but he did promise to “clear out the DOJ” and appoint a new FBI director “on Day One.”

Businessman Perry Johnson bragged that he’d been the first person to promise to pardon Trump back in March, even though he did not know which crimes he’d be pardoning Trump for at the time.

Vivek Ramaswamy didn’t say Trump’s name in his speech, but he did promise to shut down the FBI, the ATF, the IRS, the CDC, and the rest of the corrupt Deep State.

Nikki Haley mentioned Trump only once, and that was to illustrate how well they’d worked together when she was his ambassador to the UN.

Trump didn’t go to Hinson’s BBQ Bash, but he did headline an Iowa GOP dinner the week before. And while his fellow Republicans mostly avoided mentioning him that night, he didn’t return the favor.

“I understand the other campaigns are falling flat. Have you heard that?” he said with a smile when he met with supporters before his dinner speech. “It’s like death. There’s no applause, there’s no nothing.”

He called the rest of the field “establishment globalists,” and singled out DeSantis, whom he called “Ron DeSanct-us,” and Christie for the sharpest ridicule.

“Sloppy Chris Christie, the big slob,” Trump laughed as the room roared with him. “He didn’t have the courage to come (to the event). But why should he come when he’s at 0 percent? He finally did something smart for a change.”

Just like his fellow candidates, Trump also said the Democrats are “weaponizing the Justice Department” and “weaponizing the FBI,” giving the rest of them the script they’d quickly follow, too.

The only people Trump praised in his Iowa speech, other than himself, were the Democrats.

“One thing I’ll say about the Democrats is they’re vicious,” he said, as a grudging compliment. “The Republicans are nice. We need a little bit of viciousness, don’t you think?”

If the candidates running against Trump for the GOP nomination wonder why they can’t raise their name IDs or get a bump in the polls, they should take a good look in their mirrors or playback their campaign videos. That’s where they’ll see a group of cautious, don’t-go-there, ignore-him-and-he’ll-go-away politicians, all running for president while running scared of the frontrunner.

Or maybe they’re just running to get picked as Trump’s running mate. If any of them tried to be a real alternative to Trump for the 40 percent-to-50 percent of Republican voters looking for a different way, they’d probably pick up some serious steam. But for the most part, that isn’t happening.

The most significant exception to all of this is Mike Pence, Trump’s former vice president who may end up being a witness against Trump in a Jan. 6 trial, if it comes to that. Pence told CNN’s Dana Bash last week that Trump and his lawyers asked him to unconstitutionally overturn the 2020 election.

“The American people deserve to know that President Trump asked me to put him over my oath to the Constitution, but I kept my oath and always will,” Pence said.

In response, Trump called Pence “delusional.”

The great irony of all of this is that even though Republicans now accuse Democrats of bringing the indictments against Trump to keep him out of the presidential race, having Trump as the 2024 nominee would be the best result Democrats could hope for. He’s the only candidate who even keeps it close in a race with President Joe Biden, who for the purposes of this drama we can call “Oldie.” Polls show nearly any other Republican could defeat Biden in a walk.

But the Democrats still have the upper hand for now, thanks to Trump and his cast of supporting actors, who are leaving the stage, the script, and the ultimate outcome to him.

Patricia Murphy

Patricia Murphy is a political reporter and columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. -- Ed.

(Tribune Content Agency)