Could it be that Donald Trump is losing his touch? “Who?” you ask, and that’s exactly the point. With the Trumpster sliding from the main stage to lounge act, we may soon imagine a world where he’s traveling from small town to small town in a rickety old bus, playing before a handful of seats in a shabby motel with a dwindling number of old white guys as an audience, all that’s left of his massive base.
The rest will have turned their attention elsewhere, died off or be among the white supremacists still in prison for their crimes stemming from the Jan. 6 siege of the United States Capitol building. Although the participants who had been released still might be spotted mumbling conspiracy theories about the Capitol invaders actually defending the building from antifa.
Nevertheless, for the conspirators, the planners of the most violent tactics, their crimes would be considered so serious that they’d end up serving their sentences at the “Supermax” penitentiary in Colorado.
If so, it’d be the rare case where the punishment fit the crime. However, to see the danger in that scenario, we have to go back nearly 20 years, to Iraq and Camp Bucca, a U.S. operating base plopped right in the desert. It grew into Buccamax, where the worst Iraqi POWs were held. Unfortunately, it also threw together a bunch of hard-nosed anti-Americans with substantial military experience. Their organizing abilities contributed significantly to the formation of ISIS. When they were released, they went on a sweep across the vast sands of the Middle East, capturing huge chunks of territory and oppressing the population, particularly women, with their capricious moral laws.
The point is a bunch of politically likeminded white supremacists in prisons would have lots of time to get organized into heavily armed (in the United States, nearly everyone can be heavily armed) militia units once released. Besides guerrilla drills, they would have little to do but go to the occasional Donald Trump show when it passed through on that rickety old bus.
Trump, reduced to a guy pitching magical elixirs and snake oil medical products with an intermittent 1-800 number infomercial on TV, wouldn’t even be booked for “Dancing With the Stars.” “The Apprentice” would be a distant memory, and so would his presidency.
In reality, he’s already being reduced to the infrequent appearance, where he gets lousy reviews from audiences of Republicans who are consistently disappointed. Take his recent one before party fat cats at Mar-a-Lago, where he called Mitch McConnell a “dumb son of a b***h. It was supposed to be a “unity” conference, but it was same the doodoo, different day: Trump talking about how he had the election stolen from him, how his handling of the pandemic was masterful, etc. By the next day, the timid officeholders of the GOP were using expressions like “not helpful.”
They want to move on, but Donald Trump doesn’t want to be moved on from. He’s already lost his starring roles on social media, and now he is losing his grip on the spotlight. And just losing his grip.
There’s nothing worse than going bonkers in front of a shrinking audience. But the worst of all would be if this script didn’t play out and Donald Trump recovered his showbiz traction and we end up making the same mistake twice. It would be some sort of national amnesia if we elect him again — him or one of his Republican clones.
A lot depends on Joe Biden and his people to remind everyone what we had to recover from and making Trump nothing more than a distant memory.
(Bob Franken is an Emmy Award-winning reporter who covered Washington for more than 20 years with CNN.)
© 2021 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.