Earlier this week House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy – who desperately wants to be Speaker of the House if the Republicans win the majority in the 2022 midterms – gave a confusing quote that made it sound like Donald Trump also wants to be Speaker of the House. McCarthy later clarified that he was saying Trump wants McCarthy to be Speaker. Whatever. McCarthy is an idiot. But it’s set off a lot of hysteria this weekend about the prospect of Trump somehow becoming Speaker of the House.
So is it theoretically possible for Donald Trump to become Speaker of the House? Yes. The Speaker doesn’t even need to be a House member. So yes, in theory, if the Republicans take control of the House in the midterms, they could turn around and pick Trump as Speaker. But there are just so many reasons why this is a one in a million long shot.
If you’ve been following the grand jury proceedings in Manhattan over the past few weeks, you know it’s highly likely that Donald Trump will be criminally indicted and arrested sometime in 2021. It’s also likely that Trump will go on criminal trial in 2022 and be sent to prison. In this scenario, House Republicans clearly aren’t going to pick Trump for Speaker.
Even if Trump is somehow acquitted at trial – which is unlikely given the slam dunk nature of the financial crimes he’ll be charged with – his already very low favorability rating would be even lower as a result of most Americans seeing what a criminal he is during his trial. At some point even House Republicans would conclude Trump has too much baggage.
And even if you’re the kind of skeptic who is certain that Trump will somehow magically survive the slam dunk criminal charges New York is going to hit him with, you’ve seen his recent public appearances. You know that he’s half dead, three quarters senile, and can’t even seem to dress himself properly anymore. Now imagine Trump a year and a half from now. He’ll be so far gone, the Republicans could just tell him he’s Speaker and that the ducks in his back yard are the House of Representatives, and he’d probably believe it.
Besides, even the most Trump-loyal of House Republicans are merely trying to pander to his supporters. They know that Donald Trump himself is a broken shell of a man, a loser who’s only interested in seeking personal revenge even at his own party’s expense, and a total liability. If the Republicans win the House, they’ll surely put up a statue of Trump in the foyer, but they won’t want Trump himself in charge of the proceedings. They know the whole thing would implode in five minutes.
Then there’s the fact that the only reason Kevin McCarthy is still dry humping Trump’s ghost is that McCarthy is hoping to become Speaker of the House himself. Are we really expecting McCarthy to just give up on his dream and steer House Republicans toward pointlessly giving the job to Trump instead? None of this even makes sense.
So here we are, once again fixated on an extraordinarily unrealistic doomsday scenario, because in this era of cable news and social media, extraordinarily unrealistic doomsday scenarios are what get most of the attention. Fretting over Speaker of the House Donald Trump is a good way to waste an afternoon. It’s not activism. And there’s a danger here.
Let’s say we keep insisting that the ghost of Donald Trump is going to make a comeback and destroy us all, in an effort to motivate the public into getting involved in the midterms. But then the public is going to see Trump get indicted and arrested, they’re going to see him on trial, they’re going to see him turn into even more of a blubbering plate of jello in the process, and they’re going to figure out that this guy is clearly toast. Then they’re going to let their guard down because we told them that Trump was the big threat, and it’ll open the door for the next Republican monsters to seize control.
The Republican Party has spent this year showing that it doesn’t need Donald Trump in charge in order to do evil and cause harm. They’re still the Party of Trump, which is the messaging that we should use in order to win the midterms – because voters in the middle hate Trump. But we don’t have to pretend that Trump is somehow magically going to be back in charge. Dishonest messaging is never a good thing, and in this instance it might backfire on us. We defeated Trump in 2020 with the truth. Let’s defeat the Party of Trump in 2022 with the truth as well.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report