As I write this, President Trump is still speaking at CPAC. My overriding impression is that he hasn’t changed a bit. The same tireless energy, the same utter disregard for the clock, the same flashes of humor, the same willingness to trash his enemies–i.e., the people who trashed him first.
I listened to half to two-thirds of Trump’s speech, coming and going, and the parts I heard were very good. He sounded his usual themes–the great successes of his administration, including Operation Warp Speed; the need for secure borders; the importance of putting America First and standing up for working Americans; and the need for election integrity.
Some Democrats have been hoping that Trump might try to found a third party or launch an independent run in 2024, but he decisively rejected such thinking. Good. On policy, Trump places himself squarely in the Republican tradition. It is not Trump but figures like Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski who are, in some respects at least, off the Republican reservation.
I don’t think many could have watched President Trump today without being struck by the contrast between the almost supernaturally vigorous Trump and Joe Biden, a pallid shell of a man who, I think it safe to say, is not capable of putting in a solid day of work. How could Biden possibly have won November’s election? I don’t blame Trump for thinking it was “rigged,” and in some respects, it undeniably was. As I have said before, I don’t know whether the Democrats stole the 2020 election, but I do know that they tried hard to steal it.
I don’t want Donald Trump to be the Republican nominee in 2024, and I don’t think he will be. Voters generally want to move forward, not back, and Trump, despite his extraordinary vigor, isn’t getting any younger. Most important, 2024 is a promising year for Republicans to recapture the White House. The Democrats will be saddled with either a long-gone Joe Biden or an unelected Kamala Harris, who has an unimpressive track record as a politician. In 2024, the GOP doesn’t need a candidate who brings an unprecedented volume of baggage to the fray. I think the party has several excellent alternatives.
Still, off today’s performance, no one should write Trump off. At the moment, he stands head and shoulders above most of the contenders in both parties.