It was revealed this weekend that Donald Trump will speak at the upcoming CPAC conference. This is hardly news, when you consider that nearly all prominent Republican political figures speak at CPAC each year. All it really means is that Trump is leaving the house for once, after having largely become a shut-in after being ejected from presidency.
We’re already predictably seeing the laziest of pundits trying to spin Trump’s CPAC speech as supposed evidence that he’s about to make a miraculous political comeback, or that he’s now somehow the 2024 frontrunner, or that he’s running a veritable shadow government out of Mar-a-Lago. The media makes up these conspiracy theories about Trump having magical powers in the name of scaring people into staying tuned in, but none of it’s based in reality.
Here’s the thing. Donald Trump is finished in politics and public life, to the point that he barely shows his face anymore. He’s not remotely going to be a contender in 2024, to the point that even his own loyal lackeys are now talking openly about which of them will run instead. And of course it’s becoming more clear by the day that Trump won’t escape criminal charges in New York. Eugene Debs notwithstanding, it’s historically been difficult to run for President while in prison.
Yet the Republican Party and conservative movement are still chained to this guy like a boat anchor. He cost his party the House, the Senate, and the presidency, and he’s left them in their worst lurch in a long time. He keeps unwittingly proving that he can’t get other Republicans elected by campaigning for them. He’s of zero use to the GOP, and yet they’re stuck with him anyway.
So yeah, let the Republicans trot out a half senile, half arrested, half dead Donald Trump at CPAC. Let the Republicans struggle to figure out how to form a policy platform based on the incoherent drivel that comes out of Trump’s mouth during his speech. Let them tie their fate to a guy who’s so toxically unpopular, he lost by seven million votes even after he sabotaged the Post Office to keep more people from voting against him. It’s their loss, and they’ll keep losing.
We all knew the Republicans would pay a price in the end for having made their bed with Trump. We just didn’t know that the price would be having to continue trying to pander to his base, even now that he’s become evil Mr. Magoo, in a way that distinctly turns off voters in the middle.
The Republican Party’s best chance of winning anything in 2022 or 2024 would be if Trump simply disappeared forever. In fact if Trump were arrested tomorrow and thus silenced for real, the GOP might be the biggest benefactor. Instead, as long as he’s still nominally on the stage by making the occasional babbling public appearance, he’ll continue to drag down their chances. So let’s not fret over the fact that Trump is speaking at CPAC. Let’s relish watching the Republicans remain tied to the boat anchor that keeps costing them everything.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report