Opinion: This Thanksgiving, let Trump’s ‘best people’ do the arguing with your MAGA uncle

Photo/Jeff Roberson /The Associated Press / Then-GOP presidential candidate adn former Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a Fair-Side Chat with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds at the Iowa State Fair, Aug. 11, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa. Pence is among several former Trump administration officials who have warned about the former president's fitness for office.
Photo/Jeff Roberson /The Associated Press / Then-GOP presidential candidate adn former Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a Fair-Side Chat with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds at the Iowa State Fair, Aug. 11, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa. Pence is among several former Trump administration officials who have warned about the former president's fitness for office.

Last Thanksgiving, Donald Trump had just announced he was seeking re-election, yet his political stock was low. He was blamed for Republicans' unexpectedly bad showing in the 2022 midterm elections.

A year later, the Thanksgiving tables have turned.

Across America, Democrats and Never Trumpers have heartburn and the MAGAts are toasting: Polls have the disgraced former president romping over DeSantis and every other Republican challenging him, and perhaps on his way to beating President Joe Biden. And that despite 12 intervening months in which Trump racked up four indictments for trying to overturn his 2020 defeat and filching top-secret documents, 91 criminal charges and two trials that ended with findings of liability for sexual abuse and financial fraud.

Yet both the legal and substantive arguments against Trump 2.0 have grown stale; the true believers won't swallow any of it. What more can anti-Trumpers say to counter the MAGA devotees at their holiday feasts?

My advice: Let others do the talking — the ones who saw him up close in the White House.

No president in U.S. history has been so damned by so many who were part of the inner circle:

› Mike Pence, vice president: On Jan. 6, 2021, "President Trump also demanded I choose between him and our Constitution. ... Anyone who puts themselves over the Constitution should never be president of the United States."

› William Barr, second attorney general: Trump "shouldn't be anywhere near the Oval Office."

› John F. Kelly, White House chief of staff, Homeland Security secretary and retired Marine general: "A person that thinks those who defend their country in uniform, or are shot down or seriously wounded in combat, or spend years being tortured as POWs are all 'suckers' because 'there is nothing in it for them.' A person that did not want to be seen in the presence of military amputees because 'it doesn't look good for me.' ... A person that has nothing but contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution, and the rule of law. ... God help us."

› James N. Mattis, first Defense secretary, retired Marine general: "The first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people. ... Instead, he tries to divide us." He would order the military to "violate the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens."

Mark Esper, second Defense secretary: "He's unfit for office. ... His actions are all about him and not about the country. And then, of course, I believe he has integrity and character issues as well."

Gary Cohn, first director of the White House National Economic Council: "It's not what we did for the country. It's what we saved him from doing."

H.R. McMaster, second national security advisor, retired Army lieutenant general: "A dope. "

John Bolton, third national security advisor: "I've been in those rooms with him when he's met with those [foreign] leaders. I believe they think he is a laughing fool."

Alyssa Farah Griffin, White House communications director: "We're all saying the same thing: We worked with him, we know him and we're telling you, America — this man is unfit to be president. And a second term would be more dangerous than the first."

Sadly, Griffin knows something about how hard it would be to persuade the Trumpers at your table, about how cleanly the former president has sliced through families with his hateful politics. Her father boycotted her wedding because of her criticism of her former boss.

"We just have to keep trying to break through," she has said, but do so respectfully. We must "have these challenging conversations."

If your Thanksgiving is likely to serve up politics along with the turkey, keep this cheat sheet handy. When Uncle MAGA gets going, let him have it.

Respectfully.

Upcoming Events