Reviews | Donald Trump went from cult leader to weather vane

It’s remarkable for a man who turned his former Cold Warrior party into a bunch of Russian apologists and peacemakers. By speaking out Russian propaganda to justify his invasion of Crimea and siding with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials that his country interfered in the 2020 election, Trump has managed to transform the party that once called the Soviet Union ‘evil empire’ into a party that rationalized the killing of Russian journalists. (“I think our country kills a lot too,” he insisted.) The party even acquitted Trump for extorting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

But since Trump left office, the party has raced to side with democracy and the cause of Ukrainian freedom. For a while, Trump continued to praise Putin as a “scholar” and a “genius,” but he eventually managed to sync up with the bipartisan consensus. As he said at an event in South Carolina this month, “The United States must make it clear to Putin that he has two choices: negotiate peace now or face searing consequences, including including a push to permanently eliminate dependence on Russian energy”. Now he is even suggesting that the United States deploy nuclear submarines to threaten Russia.

Trump’s desperation to beat the crowd on the biggest foreign policy issue of our time is palpable. He knows he can’t force Republicans to embrace Putin. Rather than fight the party and risk being shunned, he meekly aligns himself with its hardline, anti-Russian line.

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In the medium term, Trump may also be irrelevant. He picked a slew of dodgy candidates with sketchy backgrounds, such as Sean Parnell, who dropped out of the Pennsylvania Senate primary after domestic abuse allegations. He also backed Herschel Walker for the Georgia Senate primary, despite serious questions about his business background and alleged history of violent behavior. Walker, who hides from the debates, regularly makes the news about his scandals and blunders.

Then there’s hardline Freedom Caucus representative Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), whom Trump has backed for a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama. But Brooks has fallen behind and Trump doesn’t want to be on the losing side, so he withdrew his endorsement on Wednesday. Trump’s slim excuse is that Brooks doesn’t want to talk about the 2020 election anymore.

An endorsement doesn’t make much sense if it comes with a caveat that the candidate has to earn. Once politicians have made their bet on a candidate, they are usually forced to stick with him, taking a hit if his person falters. Not Trump. Like the March Madness fan who takes a break when his favorite team loses, Trump cannot tolerate the perception that he has lost his political assets.

Trump also began picking sure winners to boost his batting average. For the North Dakota Senate race, he went with incumbent Republican John Hoeven rather than MAGA challenger Rick Becker, a state legislator.

The move did not go unnoticed. Local opinion writer Rob Port explains in Dickinson Press that Becker ‘bowed to 2020 election plots’ and ‘called for mass arrests of the supposed ‘deep state’ while his Trumpy supporters called for executions “. So why go with the establishment candidate? “It’s easy. Trump looked at some political realities in North Dakota and picked the person he thought would win,” Port writes. “Trump’s midterm endorsements didn’t go over well. He has endorsed many candidates, and if many of them lose, it will shatter his reputation as a Republican kingmaker. It’s the equivalent of “going to the chalk” – picking the ranked favorite in every match in a tournament.

Trump is now reduced to the role of a delinquent supporter in a party struggling to run midterm on anything but grievances about 2020. No longer the trendsetter or kingmaker, Trump is no is more than just another GOP opportunist with a fragile ego.