No, We Won't Be Having A 'Normal Election' In 2024

Former President Donald Trump

Former President Donald Trump

Does anybody really believe the United States is going to have a “normal” presidential election in 2024, with Joe Biden and Donald Trump as the nominees and a peaceful resolution? Or will chaos and disorder take the nation to the brink, as MAGA supporters appear to wish?

Among several possibilities I can imagine, “normal” seems the least likely.

If Biden had paid attention to me—absurd, I know, but bear with me for the sake of argument—the Democrats wouldn’t be in this mess. It’s possible to agree with the president that Independent Counsel Robert Hur’s editorializing about his mental acuity amounted to an unfounded partisan smear without thinking that Biden’s in the clear politically.

(Will Democrats never quit falling for these fakers? Why must all “independent” investigations be conducted by GOP apparatchiks? For sheer fake sanctimony, this guy resembled that psalm-singing hypocrite Kenneth Starr. Bringing the president’s dead son into it was, as Biden said, an outrage. Also, I think, a craven lie.

Nothing in his 330-page report supports it. That said, the most appalling thing about the president’s ill-advised press conference following the report’s release was the conduct of the White House press corps, who screamed at Biden like a troop of baboons.

I noticed that CNN, when it re-broadcast the exchange, muted the sound. As my old friend James Fallows noted almost 30 years ago in his book “Breaking the News,” the White House press corps often acts “with a discourtesy and rancor that represent the public’s views much less than they reflect the modern journalist’s belief that being independent boils down to acting hostile.”

But last week’s performance was over the top. You won’t see sports journalists treating NFL players the way the White House baboons treated Biden, because, well, they wouldn’t dare.)

That said, everybody knew what the President meant when he identified the president of Egypt as the leader of “Mexico.” The whole exchange took place in the context of an otherwise important (and overdue) warning to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the United States is losing patience with Israeli brutality toward Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

Biden, a lifelong stutterer, had simply transposed two words. He knew what he meant, and so did everybody else. So what?

Politically speaking, however, the timing could hardly have been worse. The baboons were screaming because they sensed weakness, and everybody in the troop wants to be in on the kill. The political reality is that upwards of 62 percent of voters told a recent NBC News poll that it’s a “major concern” that Biden might not have the “mental and physical health” for a second term as president. He has aged visibly during his term.

That’s the political reality the president appears reluctant to confront even now. I’m guessing he’ll have to some time between now and the Democratic National Convention in August. As things now stand, he’s gone from being the only name-brand Democrat who could defeat Trump to maybe the only one who can’t. Always a political realist, I suspect Biden will come to see that.

Meanwhile, only 34 percent expressed similar concerns about Trump, an obese 77 year-old who wears orange pancake makeup and adult diapers, but who does appear comparatively vigorous on stage regardless of what stimulants he inhales or what poisonous nonsense he emits.

Such as this treasonous nonsense only last week:

“One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said, ‘Well, sir, if we don’t pay and we’re attacked by Russia, will you protect us?,’” Trump said at a rally at Coastal Carolina University. “I said, ‘You didn’t pay. You’re delinquent.’ He said, ‘Yes, let’s say that happened.’ No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want.”

Never mind his cowering before Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, nor his envisioning NATO—maybe the most successful military alliance in world history—as a protection racket.

Trump's "Sir" stories are always brazen lies. Does ANYBODY believe this conversation actually took place? If so, it would be easy to document. But nobody will so much as try, because reporters having such a big time picking on Biden's verbal miscues are too intimidated. Or because they think nobody believes him.

Nobody but the most far-gone MAGA idolators, that is.

However, barring a bizarre and constitutionally absurd intervention by the US Supreme Court in the coming days, Trump and his right-wing media allies’ ability to control the national political conversation will come to an abrupt end on the first day of his trial for inciting the January 6, 2021 insurrection.

His conviction, highly likely in view of the voluminous evidence against him, would be the end of Donald John Trump politically. Then comes the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case, where the evidence is even stronger.

So no, nothing’s apt to be “normal” about the 2024 election.

Gene Lyons is a former columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, a winner of the National Magazine Award, and co-author of The Hunting of the President.

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