This week we all got confirmation that Donald Trump really is going to prison. There is a 100% chance prosecutors will ask the grand jury to indict him, and a 99% chance the grand jury will agree to do so, and these are the kinds of financial charges where conviction is basically automatic when the paper trial is there, so yes, Trump really is going to prison. This has prompted a whole lot of rather idiotic pundit chatter about how Trump will actually try to run for President from a prison cell in 2024.
Spoiler alert: that’s not a real thing. At least not in terms of being a viable candidate. Yes, a convicted felon can run for President. And yes, you can even run for President while in prison. Eugene Debs did it in 1920. But the fact that he got 3% of the vote tells you how this kind of thing goes. While incarcerated, you can’t campaign, meet with donors, participate in debates, or be relevant to the electoral process in any way. So if Trump were to “run” for President in 2024 from prison, it would be a mere farce. But because the pundit class of treating this like it’s a semi-realistic thing, Matt Gaetz apparently has decided that he’s also going to run for President from prison in 2024.
That’s right, the disgraced tabloid the New York Post now says that Matt Gaetz is seriously considering running for President in 2024. This is in spite of the fact that the cooperation of his best friend and ex-girlfriend means that Gaetz will very likely be serving a long term prison sentence by 2024. But Gaetz must have seen the silly chatter about Trump running for President from prison, and figured he might as well float the notion as well.
Of course this isn’t really about trying to get elected President in 2024 for either of them. This is about trying the desperate ploy of semi-launching an imaginary 2024 campaign in 2021, in the hope that this somehow magically keeps them from ending up in prison. There’s no actual way to get from Point A to Point B on that. But when you’re as screwed and desperate as Trump and Gaetz are, you end up putting your hopes into a whole lot of magical thinking.
We can only hope that the media and the pundit class resist the temptation to pretend that the likes of Donald Trump and Matt Gaetz could actually be viable candidates in 2024. If they do push this nonsense, they can milk it for a whole lot of ratings, clicks, and page views. But doing so would be dishonest and dangerous, because while there’s no way an incarcerated Trump or Gaetz is magically going to become a viable candidate in 2024, hyping their imaginary 2024 campaigns could end up making a mess of the actual 2024 election and the actual candidates who end up running in it.
In any case, it’s clear that Matt Gaetz is more desperate than ever to find some way to magically save himself. Instead of hunkering down with his criminal trial lawyers and trying to mount some kind of reasonable doubt defense for the jury, he’s resorting to delusional nonsense.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report