Time has come to move on from Donald Trump - GulfToday

Time has come to move on from Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Eric Garcia, The Independent

Tuesday provided the perfect split screen of the Republican presidential primary. In Columbia, South Carolina, Florida Gov Ron DeSantis had his second big policy rollout where he pledged to “rip the woke out” of the US military, criticising things like Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs and ending drag shows at US military bases. Later in the day, DeSantis sat for an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper – all in an effort to rehabilitate a campaign that has underdelivered. Meanwhile, Republicans on Capitol Hill hoped to keep the attention on Rep Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) after she called Israel a “racist state”. On the GOP side, some Republicans have invited Robert F Kennedy Jr to testify fresh on the heels of his antisemitic remarks. Meanwhile, they also will begin trying to put pressure on the Democrat-controlled Senate to stomach many parts of the defence spending bill they passed last week. But all of that went out the window when former president Donald Trump announced that Special Counsel Jack Smith had informed him that he is a target of the investigation regarding the January 6 riot at the US Capitol. If charges are brought, Trump would face his third indictment since April.

For those keeping count at home, the already twice-impeached former president was first indicted in New York for charges related to hush money payments he made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Then in June, a grand jury under the guidance of Smith indicted Trump for charges related to his handling of classified documents from his presidency. As an added bonus, a jury in New York found Trump liable for the sexual abuse of writer E Jean Carroll. This means that once again, the Republican Party will accuse the Department of Justice of weaponisation, and say President Joe Biden is persecuting his political opponent. They will talk about a two-tiered system of justice.  Indeed, as DeSantis finished his speech, he tried to execute the two-step of simultaneously criticising Trump while also saying he shouldn’t be prosecuted.

“He was in the White House and didn’t do anything while things were going on,” DeSantis said. “He should’ve come out more forcefully. But to try to criminalise that, that’s a different issue entirely, and I think we want to be in a situation where you don’t have one side just trying to constantly put the other side in jail.”

DeSantis’s whole rationale for running is that he would be a version of “competent MAGA.” Indeed, that has been the case he has made to major donors who liked the policies of Trump but saw his erratic behaviour as a distraction.  But many Republican faithful voters liked Trump’s erratic behaviour and also don’t believe Trump did anything wrong. Indeed, House Republicans have visited the inmates at the DC jail who have been arrested for their actions on January 6 and have treated them like politically persecuted prisoners rather than people who tried to subvert the election results through violent insurrection. Indeed DeSantis is likely to face blowback similar to the type he faced when he tried to needle Trump for “paying hush money to a porn star.” But all of this will not help with the voters Republicans need to win back in 2024. As G Elliott Morris at FiveThirtyEight noted, Trump’s unfavourable rating has risen ever since his second indictment. Under any other circumstance, this would give Republicans the perfect opportunity to move on from Trump. They could determine he is simply not worth the trouble. Republican donors could tell also-ran candidates that they need to swallow their pride and drop out as they consolidate their cash and support behind the most formidable non-Trump candidate. But the GOP has spent the last eight years either condoning his behaviour or saying it does not outright disqualify him – save for one moment after the Access Hollywood tape leaked – to the extent that Republicans now not only condone his actions; they celebrate it. Conversely, DeSantis has proven to be a lacklustre candidate but other contenders have yet to show they can eclipse him, let alone take on Trump.

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