The town hall forum the news network aired this week from New Hampshire, attended mostly by Republicans and GOP-leaning independents, enabled Americans of all stripes to see in sharp relief Donald Trump as he mauls his way to a third presidential nomination.
Bluster. Disdain for the truth. Revulsion at being questioned. Misogyny. Equivocation. These traits and more were visible for all to see.
If they were so inclined.
Unfortunately, judging from audience reaction and subsequent news articles, many, too many, Republican voters are willing to accept his character flaws. He is, after all, entertaining, and that, it seems to me, to be the primary reason he is able to garner votes from almost half of the electorate that chooses to cast a ballot for president.
CNN was gutsy in producing the Trump-a-thon (hard to call it an interview when Trump repeatedly talked over attempts by his interlocutor Kaitlin Collins to ask new questions and to pin him down when he spoke mistruths or failed to provide concrete answers. Should Trump be part of any candidate debates it would be wise for the sponsoring organization or network to insist on a “pitch clock” of, say 90 seconds, for him to talk before his microphone would be cut off. The same 90-second rule would apply to all speakers.).
What we learned from the CNN encounter is that Trump relishes living in the past, or at least what he perceives as his “past glories.” And that Granite State Republicans like that.
As gutsy as CNN was, most Republican bigwigs have displayed twin gutlessness, first in not calling for the expulsion of deceitful George Santos from the House of Representatives and, second, for not saying Trump Redux is too much to abide, even against a flawed Joe Biden candidacy.
Sure, some highly placed GOP’ers decried a return to pettiness, falsehoods and unpresidential behavior. None renounced his policies, just his decorum and truthfulness, though on the issue of support for Ukraine, Trump seems to be out of step with more global-thinking Republicans.
Will Trump be able to reel in enough suburban voters, especially women, to win in November 2024? It is a sad commentary on the psyche of the American electorate that the question is not an idle one.