An accurate reflection of Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign

Donald Trump is apparently bored and frustrated which, given his native disposition, tends to lead to uncontrollable and unpredictable emotional outbursts. Since he is now relegated to the — technically self-imposed, at this point — ghetto of his boutique social media website TruthSocial, you might not be hearing about his recent provocations. 

But in his idle hours, Trump has decided to take the gloves off against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis:


There are several things to note here (other than Trump’s inventive grammar): First of all, Ron DeSantis is neither a declared candidate for president nor has he ever directly criticized Trump, which makes this febrile swipe at a man most Republicans respect seem bizarrely gratuitous. (Trump has never shied away from gratuitous nastiness, to be fair.)

Secondly, it also betrays weakness and a self-consciousness of weakness that Trump has always sought to avoid revealing in public, precisely because in his younger and more agile days he was such an instinctive showman. As the old maxim goes, “Never let ’em see you sweat.” In other words, to betray your insecurity to the crowd is to forfeit your persuasive power and command over them, because people can sniff out weakness in a would-be tribune of the people the same way they process pheromones: subconsciously, but decisively. By jumping the gun like this, Trump reveals a lack of confidence in himself, and it plays poorly even among his own voters (the ones most likely to see it), since they are disproportionately attracted what they define as “strength.” This is not a show of strength, it’s a limp-wristed open palm slap offered meekly from a position of weakness.

Which brings me to my final observation: He’s just not that good at this anymore. He’s lost his fastball. “Trump as Insult Comedian” was a very real phenomenon throughout the 2016 campaign, an undeniable skill of his in raw political terms. Aesthetically, Trump ran back then as Don Rickles with a populist political agenda, and it worked in large part because he was quick on his feet with a put-down, knew how to work a crowd and feed off its energy, and had a natural instinct for zeroing in on an opponent’s defining weakness (“Lyin’ Ted,” “Crooked Hillary,” “Little Marco,” etc.).

Now look at that dog’s breakfast of attacks on written in that Trump post above. Half of them are things that Trump is guilty of himself, and which run so wildly counter to Ron DeSantis’ immovably established brand that they’re greeted with shrugs. Donald Trump, promoter of all things Anthony Fauci, is not going to hang the tag of “Lockdown Ron” on the one politician most famous nationwide for successfully bucking the Covid-19 consensus. If there was one thing you used to be able to count on with Trump, it was a brutal, devastating nickname that swiftly reduced his enemy to caricature. He is evidently self-conscious about it, too; he betrays that by publicly musing about which “moniker for Ron” to use. And with all that agonists, this is the best he can do? Flailing, unfocused, and soft?

At the very least, it is an accurate reflection of the state of Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign for the presidential nomination.

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