The day after the Iowa caucuses, which the former president won decisively, the Associated Press ran a story with this headline: Ex-President Donald Trump set to face jury over sex abuse and defamation claims.
Do his supporters care? Weeks of coverage in and about Iowa, millions spent, endless hours of reporting, for what?
The man who ran eight years ago is the same man running today, and there remains no evidence that Republican voters or the national Republican Party will ever abandon him: not sexual abuse or defamation lawsuits, not dozens of indictments, not the idea of a convicted felon being president, not the stealing of classified documents, not reports by his own chief of staff that he disrespects the military, not his incessant verbal assault on our justice system and the press, not his unwavering election denialism, not his unrelenting hateful rhetoric nor his seeming exhilaration in laying the ground for political violence.
Here in Kentucky, we are following suit. There is nothing to show that our elected Republican leaders will ever publicly denounce Donald Trump, as we recently witnessed gubernatorial candidate Daniel Cameron gleefully bathe in the glory of Trump’s endorsement.
And as our legislative session opened, state senator Lindsey Tichenor inexplicably filed a resolution to say the January 6 insurrection — a call to violence by Trump for his baseless election fraud claims — was much ado about nothing, with dozens of Republican caucus members secretly voting to join her.
I am going to make a prediction. Trump will not only be the Republican choice come November, he will be our next president.
Considering my bias, I decided to look back at my notes from the first year of the Trump presidency to see what I might be missing, to see what, if anything, has changed.
Nov. 2016 — Fox News journalist Megyn Kelly reported that, just prior to a debate, Mr. Trump heard she would be asking him a tough question and threatened to unleash his “beautiful Twitter account” against her. And unleash he did. For weeks. Ms. Kelly’s mailbox filled with obscenities and death threats, with Mr. Trump’s own lawyer retweeting a message saying “we can gut her.” The bullying continued until a Fox news executive called Mr. Trump’s lawyer to explain that Megyn Kelly ending up dead would not help his client.
Feb. 2017 — The Houston Chronicle previously reported that “his erratic temperament, his dodgy business practices, his racism, his Putin-like strongman inclinations and faux-populist demagoguery, his contempt for the rule of law, his ignorance,” should be disqualifying.
Mar. 2017 — Following a speech to CPAC in which Trump called the press dishonest, fake news, and enemy of the people, White House staff said they would not be attending the White House Correspondent’s Dinner in support of the president.
May 2017 — Russia has splashed their Oval Office photos with President Trump all over state TV, reporting the timing of FBI’s James Comey’s firing as an honored gift to the visiting Russian delegation. Hours before firing Comey, the president sat down for an interview with The Economist, after which the editors described his general grasp of economics as “unimaginative and incoherent,” summing up the interview in one disturbing sentence: “The impulsiveness and shallowness of America’s president threaten the economy as well as the rule of law.”
Jul. 2017 — In her Wall Street Journal column, former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan wrote, “Half the president’s tweets show utter weakness. They are plaintive, shrill little cries, usually just after dawn.” The mad king wakes up in a mood, lashing out, and “meanwhile, the whole world is watching, a world that contains predators. How could they not be seeing this weakness, confusion, and chaos, and thinking it’s a good time to cause some trouble?”
Aug. 2017 — In the days following the white supremacy march on Charlottesville, a homegrown terrorist attack, President Trump’s leadership skills and moral authority came down to one phone call. How long did it take him to call the mother of victim Heather Heyer? Five days. Five long, unconscionable days before the president could be bothered to offer condolences to the mother of a 32 year-old victim of domestic terror. And he did not bother to comfort the Charlottesville community or the country. The president, instead, chose this time of national crisis to rant defensively during a press conference about “good people on both sides.”
Sep. 2017 — In Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath, as flood waters refuse to abate, toxins poison the water, and communities struggle to put themselves back together, the president is doubling-down on disaster, announcing his intent to shut down DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), a program to protect immigrant children. His inexplicably cruel and untimely announcement comes as the body of 31 year-old Alonso Guillen, a DACA recipient, washes ashore, four days after he drowned while volunteering to rescue fellow, stranded Americans.
Sep. 2017 — President Trump seems immune to the sage advice of his own intelligence experts and senior military advisers. As reported on Sep. 22 in The Los Angeles Times, “Trump’s top aides, including national security advisor H.R. McMaster, had argued for months against making the attacks on North Korea’s leader personal, warning it could backfire. But Trump, who relishes belittling his rivals and enemies with crude nicknames, felt compelled to make a dramatic splash in the global forum.”
Nov. 2017 — The patterns established this first year of the Trump presidency are alarming. You need only follow his own statements and tweet-storms to see the pattern of his rages against prominent Americans of color: Stephan Curry, Jemele Hill, Rep. John Lewis, Rep. Maxine Waters, Rep. Frederica Wilson, LaVar Ball, Gold Star father Kzhir Khan, Judge Curiel, Muslim immigrants, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Puerto Rican Mayor Yulin Cruz, CNN’s Don Lemon, the Haitians he wants to deport, Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and, of course, Colin Kaepernick.
Years later, nothing has changed. His adoring voters, his Republican Party — including most of Kentucky’s elected officials — love him now as they loved him then. And if they do not love him, they seem to fear telling the public otherwise.
Trump recently defamed his own Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Mark Milley, on Truth Social, which led WBUR radio’s “On Point” host Meghna Chakrabarti to ask in a piece titled “Is Donald Trump normalizing political violence in America?” one of the most consequential questions of 2024: “At what point does this constant avalanche of political rhetoric, violent political rhetoric, effectively normalize actual political violence. Are we already there?”
Experience tells me that anytime we ask the question “are we already there?” … we are.
Donald Trump is currently destined to be the Republican nominee come November. He could be our next president.
But don’t listen to me. I am biased. Ask the leaders who matter. Ask Senate President Stivers and House Leader Osborne. Ask the whips and floor leaders. Ask every Kentucky Republican in office or running for office: Was the 2020 election stolen? Do you support Donald Trump for president?
They should all be required to answer, publicly.
What are we waiting for, another January 6?