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Stiehm: Trump’s luck and mojo run low

By Jamie Stiehm - | Apr 18, 2024

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Jamie Stiehm

At last, former President Donald Trump is on trial, a criminal defendant for election interference, in silencing a sordid brush with Stormy Daniels. The judge, Juan Merchan, made clear he’s in charge here.

A harbinger of spring light in the American soul after a long winter occupation? Let it be so.

April is turning out as the cruelest month for the Republican presidential contender. The actual president, meanwhile, acts presidential, handling foreign policy crises like a seasoned pro.

I think Trump knows it.

But his legions of followers don’t. So the show must go on till the end, dividing Americans into Us vs. Them. Just like Frederick Douglass, as Trump once said, he’s doing an “amazing job.” His great gift is polarizing the body politic and, let’s be honest, bringing out the base in us.

The bitter, twisted glare on his face now reveals a man living a life of loud desperation. Trump is shrewd and canny enough to know when the con is up. He is asking aides what prison will be like. Making license plates and all.

Let us review. Trump is slipping in the polls against President Joe Biden. His Truth Social media stock is plunging. Biden is raising more money. Arizona’s new harsh abortion ban (from a frontier 1864 law) will cream him with women voters.

The best part is that Trump is aware Arizona just pitched a wild game-changing election loser.

Bragging about naming three Supreme Court members to deny human rights for women and girls has backfired beautifully. The three Trump appointees acted swiftly to strike down reproductive freedom at the first chance, defying their sworn Senate testimony.

The Republican John Roberts Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in June 2022, a bellwether moment.

But the danger is, Trump will never surrender without the ugliest clash since the Civil War. If he has his way, he’ll incite more political violence (“a bloodbath”) against the government than he did on Jan. 6, 2021. That day is still a nightmare from which we are trying to awake. I was in the Capitol under siege.

(This time, FBI, brace for it. And Attorney General Merrick Garland, please do your job.)

Trump’s campaign “speeches” are studies of a disturbed mind, demons unleashed. There are no limits on what to say. No rules of play as he swings from self-pity to raging rants. The fierce bonds with white folks (mostly) are perplexing, but in plain sight.

Call it negative charisma.

White nationalist tirades often defend the armed mob that attacked the Capitol. The Jan. 6 violent convicts are “hostages,” while true Israeli hostages are suffering somewhere in Gaza. Strangely, that dark day was perhaps Trump’s personal pinnacle as president.

Lately, immigrants on the border are called “animals.” Losing the Battle of Gettysburg, Gen. Robert E. Lee, Trump declared at a rally, is “no longer in favor, did you ever notice that?” Stating the obvious, he seemed like he was letting you in on a secret.

The truth about Lee, the Confederate icon, is that he betrayed his own army and country. Lee could have been hanged, but President Abraham Lincoln was not out for revenge and “retribution,” Trump’s vow to get back at critics. (But he’d only be a dictator on the first day, he said.)

Tragically, Lincoln’s mercy on the defeated Confederacy was met with an assassin’s bullet in a full-house theater that was celebrating Union victory in the Civil War.

As someone who loves the sound of music in words, the crude way Trump speaks to crowds robs the English language. The swagger suggests a bar brawl. If he said something charming, witty or wise in seven years, I never heard it.

The Japanese prime minister, Fumio Kishida, told Congress that our allies depend on America to champion freedom, to stand against authoritarianism.

Instead, Trump pressed House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., to delay a key floor vote on aiding Ukraine in its war against Russia. After two months, the vote may go ahead.

Trump’s first day in criminal court, April 15, was the date that Lincoln died. And the nation wept.

The author may be reached at JamieStiehm.com.


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