It’s a blessing and a curse for former cutting-edge musicians to see their once radically countercultural material appearing in television commercials for automobiles or other mainstream consumer products. There is no danger that Trump will ever be similarly whitewashed into the mainstream, or that he will become a beloved or respected former statesman, as almost all American presidents do at some point. given.
But he can get boring, jeopardizing one of the pillars of his appeal as the most entertaining and craziest national politician of our lifetime.
Now, I say this as someone who thought Trump’s act might start to wear thin sometime in 2015. I was wrong then, and I might be wrong again. At the very least, however, Trump cannot benefit from the shock of the news a second or third time, depending on how you count.
The rallies, once an innovation and still his campaign signature, fell long ago into a furrow of familiarity – the stilted reading of scripted remarks on the teleprompter, interrupted by off-the-cuff riffs and ridicule from his haters.
Perhaps, by now, the terms of abuse have become such timeless classics that fans would be disappointed not to experience them live, much like going to a Beach Boys concert anytime during the past half-year. century and not hear “California Girls”.
Yet you could have heard the same lines at any Trump rally, anywhere, and on any occasion over the past few years. The media is always Fake News. MSNBC is still MSDNC. Adam Schiff is still sneaky and Chuck Todd is still sleepy.
And, as you may have heard, Chris Wallace always wanted to be like his dad Mike from “60 Minutes,” but sadly, he didn’t have the talent.
One can only conclude that the glory days of Trump nicknames are over. Maybe there will be a fresh burst of creativity if he shows up again in 2024, but for now he’s content to build on his greatest hits.
Much of his attention is backwards. Republican voters care, as they should, about the beginnings of the ill-founded Russia inquiry that consumed so much time and attention in Trump’s first two years in office, but there is no mean they care as much as Trump does.
The former president said the words “Russia” or “hoax” countless times at a rally the other day for Rep. Liz Cheney’s chief GOP opponent in Wyoming. The casual observer could be forgiven for thinking that this was mostly an event on the Mueller probe with a few throwaway lines about Harriet Hageman mixed in just for variety’s sake.
He talked about his two impeachments and, of course, his “perfect phone call” to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
There is wisdom in William Faulkner’s famous phrase that the past is never dead, it is not even past. It’s a saying traditionally better suited to Southern gothic novelists, rather than American politicians, who generally benefit from focusing on the future.
Trump’s signature 2016 boast, “only I can fix it,” has actually become “only I can fix it.”
The candidate who brought relatively neglected issues that mattered to the average voter, from immigration and the trade to opioids, to the center of political discussion in 2016, now speaks widely to voters about the slights and mistreatment that matter to him. in 2022.
That said, there’s no doubt that rally attendees still enthusiastically appreciate Trump’s lines. And the party’s identification with him may still be so strong that seeking retaliation for all the wrongs done or allegedly done to him — especially his loss in 2020 — will be a deep motivation for primary voters in 2024. , if Trump leaves.
There’s also no beating something with nothing. If Trump’s rallies are obsolete, what hot new event in Republican politics will supplant them? The thing is, Trump at his most boring form can be more interesting than a conventional Republican at his most entertaining.
A Trump march to the GOP nomination will delight his supporters and create a five-alarm fire in the press and among Democrats. But at least this time everyone will know what he’s going to say next.