Perhaps former President Donald Trump envisions a Richard Nixon resurrection for himself.
Nixon, the two-term vice president under Dwight Eisenhower and the Republican nominee who lost by a whisker in the 1960 presidential election, made another attempt at electoral politics two years later by running for governor of California. Though he carried the state in the presidential election, he did not win the Golden State's governorship, losing by more than five percentage points in the then-Republican state to Democratic incumbent Pat Brown.
In his concession speech, he famously said, "You won't have Nixon to kick around any more, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference."
Yet, six years later, in 1968, hated by the press and turned away twice by the people, he was elected president.
Trump, who in November received more votes than any sitting president, already may have his eye on 2024.
We hope he doesn't. After a historic second impeachment acquittal on Saturday, he may view himself as bulletproof. He certainly still carries the love and support of many millions, but his brand and his electability were damaged by the events of Jan. 6.
No matter on what side of the constitutionality of convicting a former president you stand, Trump's continued belaboring of the point that the election was stolen from him and his suggestion that any who back him should come to Washington, D.C., to protest the certification of electoral votes was wrong. And then a speech to protesters on the day of the certification was ill-conceived.
The fact that some time after that speech some 800 protesters stormed the Capitol, that people died as a result and that members of Congress were in grave danger — whatever his personal culpability — should eliminate him from contention in 2024.
The weekend highlight at the end of his Senate trial of the knowledge that Trump basically did nothing to stop the insurrection — after he knew what was occurring — was further damning.
In truth, the president was lucky Democrats were so intent on ruining him that they didn't take time to think through their lone impeachment article. As the days leading to the Senate trial grew near, and as the president's defense showed during the trial, the "incitement of insurrection" charge grew weaker.
Evidence surfaced of individuals' plans to broach the Capitol well before Trump's Jan. 6 speech, and Trump's lawyer cited numerous occasions where his opponents made inciting remarks equal to or worse than his.
In the end, a charge about the president doing nothing during the riot might have garnered a closer conviction vote than did the one for insurrection, which fell 10 votes short.
Trump now holds the distinction of being the only president impeached twice, and acquitted twice. In the offing, a charge of impeachment as a severe punishment became no more than a partisan political slap on the wrist. Trump might even call it a double red badge of courage. And Democrats showed themselves an inability to shrug off Trump Derangement Syndrome even after their hated foe left office.
As for the former president, we harbor no illusions that he can remain quiet and hope that one day — probably not in his lifetime — unbiased historians will give him his due. However, whatever is fair that might one day be written about his presidential accomplishments also will include his actions between Election Day and the end of his term.
No, Trump, being Trump, even without his Twitter voice, is likely to have plenty to say — about the state of the country, about President Joe Biden and about his pursuers. That's his prerogative. The last two Republican presidents, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, chose to say little. The last two Democrats, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, chose to say a lot.
He still will draw crowds, though they're not likely to be as raucous as when he was president, or if his subject continues to be his "stolen" second term. And in certain places, candidates still will desire his imprimatur, though we bet those places have narrowed since the events of Jan. 6.
Trump, being Trump is a hard man to predict. We didn't foresee him being much of a competitor in the 2016 Republican nomination process, couldn't imagine him winning the nomination and saw no chance of him winning the White House. Then we thought he couldn't possible govern unless he reined in his tongue and his temper. And we further couldn't imagine him surviving everything Democrats threw at him in their blinding hatred.
We know Democrats won't be able to let him go because he's the one thing the unites them. But we hope no matter how he spins Saturday's acquittal, he's given up electoral politics and any dreams of a Nixonian resurrection.
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