IMMEDIATE RELEASE 17 February 2022
Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
How the cult of Trump will fail
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
WASHINGTON — Pundits and historians alike wonder how the Trump cult will come to an end, and the answer is that Trump himself will bring it down as the candidates he endorses go down in flames after which, in keeping with his infamous penchant for disloyalty, he will disown them.
The former president is his own worst enemy. He hates losing and hates losers, and he wants to destroy as best he can anybody who defies him or embarrasses him. Topping that list are Republicans who won’t go along with the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen, and Republicans like former Senator David Purdue, R-Ga., who can’t sell the snake oil as well as Donald Trump can.
At Trump’s urging, Purdue got into the race for governor in Georgia, challenging incumbent Republican Governor Brian Kemp. Purdue is struggling in the Republican primary, raising a fraction of what Kemp has in his war chest, and scrambling to explain to voters why he would want to challenge a popular governor like Kemp.
For Trump, who has endorsed Purdue, it’s a settling of scores. Kemp refused to bow to Trump’s demands that he discredits some ballots and join in the attempt orchestrated by Trump and his allies to overthrow the election results. That put Kemp at odds with Trump, and the former president has been seeking revenge ever since.
Trump has such an exaggerated opinion of himself and such a tender ego that he can’t lose. He refuses to accept losing a deep red Southern state like Georgia, so it’s time for retribution. Anybody who gets in his way is bound to pay a price if they make this former president look bad.
Questioned about his lackluster fundraising and polls that don’t offer much encouragement, Purdue gave the standard answer, that he expected to be outspent several times over by an incumbent governor, and that once he’s gotten around the state and made his case, the polls will change before the primary on May 24th.
But that reflects a lot of wishful thinking, and Purdue’s inability to turn Trump’s endorsement into a powerful engine for his campaign is attracting attention not only locally but among Republicans in Washington and at Mar-A-Lago.
Trump is famous for turning on people once they’re of no use to him, and Purdue’s lagging numbers might well prompt Trump to pull his support and blame Purdue for being a loser before the Georgia businessman’s problems reflect badly on Trump.
Trump can’t help himself. He must deflect blame, and in so doing, he will destroy himself and his followers.
In Georgia, former football star Herschel Walker is Trump’s endorsed candidate to challenge freshman Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock. Tellingly, Walker has refused to offer his support to Purdue even though both are running on the Republican ticket.
Walker is not going to hitch his star to a likely loser.
Georgia is problematic for Trump and the GOP. It went blue for Biden by less than 1 percent, and Trump likely cost the GOP two Senate seats when he made a late visit to the state and complained the election was rigged and that Republicans couldn’t be assured their votes would be counted.
Trump’s message helped the Democrats gain those seats, and left Trump with a grudge against Georgia state officials who wouldn’t go along with his scheme to overturn the election.
Georgia is not alone as a testing ground for Trump’s staying power. He has endorsed candidates in Ohio, Arizona and North Carolina who, should they win, could shift the balance in the Senate in the Republicans’ favor. Should they lose, of course, the reverse is true. And if history is any guide, some of the candidates Trump is backing are likely losers whose loyalty the former president will reward with ridicule.
Douglas Cohn’s latest books are The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency and World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers).
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END WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND
IMMEDIATE RELEASE 17 February 2022