Today some unsurprising but still significant political news came over the transom, so I wrote it up at New York:
A loudly barking dog that has quieted down as the midterm elections approach their omega point is the de facto head of the Republican Party — Donald Trump. While he was ubiquitous during primary season, when he was emblazoning a host of candidates with his brand, he appears to have heard the whispered pleas or silent prayers of Republicans that he keep a lower profile so that the midterms could be a straight referendum on Joe Biden and his (allegedly) socialist Democrats. Yes, he’s doing last-minute rallies for favored candidates in Ohio and Pennsylvania and dubious events in the early presidential states of Florida and Iowa. But for a world-class narcissist like the 45th president, this level of activity is almost restrained — if not at all selfless.
It appears that this will change very soon, per a report from Axios:
“Former President Trump’s inner circle is discussing announcing the launch of a 2024 presidential campaign on Nov. 14 — with the official announcement possibly followed by a multi-day series of political events, according to three sources familiar with the sensitive discussions.
“Look for Trump to take credit for Republican victories across the board — including those he propelled with his endorsements, and even those he had nothing to do with.”
Before you mark November 14 on your calendars as a day to spend in a decompression chamber and far from Twitter, it should be noted that there were similar reports in the summer that Trump ’24 would launch any day. But it’s not like there’s any remaining doubt that he’s running. And a relatively early launch would not only allow Trump to come out bragging but could force potential rivals to bend a knee — before their own presidential ambitions tempt them to take the enormous risk of challenging the dark lord of Mar-a-Lago.
However, for Republicans (if not for Trump) there are potential disadvantages to a precipitous 2024 campaign kickoff.
There is a chance that control of the U.S. Senate will come down to a December 6 general-election runoff between Herschel Walker and incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock. As any Georgia Republican will privately tell you, Trump personally ruined the January 2021 runoff contests of David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler by coming to the state and talking about himself and Georgia’s rigged election system, which did not inspire enthusiasm to vote among Republicans. It seems unlikely that he would stay away from the runoff campaign of his buddy Herschel, but with Trump as a newly reminted presidential candidate, that might not be good for Walker, who needs to hang on to and mobilize every single Trump-skeptic Republican in the state.
Another moment for Republicans a Trump announcement might ruin is Joe Biden’s 80th birthday on November 20. If, as is widely expected, Democrats suffer serious losses on Election Day, there will be immediate talk about the need for replacing today’s party gerontocracy in Washington with fresh leadership. But the real-life prospect of a Trump comeback could do wonders in reminding everyone that Old Man Biden defeated his predecessor and may still be the only candidate who can do that in 2024. More generally, there’s nothing quite like hearing the Big Bad Wolf howling outside the door to instill a desire for unity among all the little piggies who fear being gobbled up politically just two years down the road.