Politics

Area Ex-President Launches Vintage Online Meltdown

Among many other things, Donald Trump accused (?) Virginia’s Republican governor of having a Chinese-sounding name.

Trump sits in the cab of a semitruck and screams in front of a crowd of onlookers wearing suits.
United States President Donald Trump formally welcomes guests from the logistics industry to the White House on March 23, 2017. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty

Donald Trump was removed from Twitter for, let’s see, using it to encourage an insurrectionary riot in which five people died. He’s since founded his own social platform, Truth Social—naturally, it is beset by lawsuits and fraud investigations—which he uses like he used Twitter: for reposting his supporters’ unsettlingly adulatory memes and pursuing various grudges.

At the moment he has many grudges to pursue. Voices in his hated/beloved mainstream media, as well as a few in the Republican Party itself, are observing that his influence on the GOP is likely one of the main reasons it is in the midst of compiling the worst midterms performance by an opposition party since 2002. Candidates whom Trump endorsed, and who themselves endorsed his theories about the 2020 presidential election being “stolen,” lost a number of key races while often running behind non-MAGA Republicans in their states. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has strategically avoided associating himself with Trump since 2020 despite having previously been a major supporter, won reelection by a double-digit margin and has been widely touted as a contender for the 2024 presidential nomination.

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Trump does not care for this characterization of recent events or the suggestion that anyone besides him could win the ’24 primary, and, in more than a dozen Truth Social posts since Tuesday, has attacked a variety of targets:

Losing Colorado GOP candidate Joe O’Dea, for having distanced himself from the party’s MAGA wing. (He “lost BIG” and “could have won,” but “had a Death Wish.”)

Ron DeSantis, for supporting O’Dea. (“Ron DeSanctimonious.”)

Ron DeSantis, for receiving fewer votes in Florida in 2022 than Trump received in 2020. (Not actually a meaningful fact given that midterm turnout is lower than presidential turnout everywhere.)

News Corp., which owns Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post, for running positive content about “Ron DeSanctimonious,” who “came to me in desperate shape in 2017” when he was first running for governor and wanted an endorsement. (This series of messages went on for 485 words and included a claim that he sent federal agents to Florida to guarantee DeSantis’ election. You can read those words here if you want.)

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“News Corp Board Member Paul Ryan” and “Broken Old Crow Mitch McConnell” for not securing him border-wall funds during their respective 2017–18 tenures as speaker of the House and Senate majority leader.

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Republican New Hampshire Senate candidate Don Bolduc (who lost) for disavowing “stolen election” rhetoric during the general election (although only temporarily).

Fox News again, for airing recent criticism of him, and for not supporting him sufficiently in 2015 and 2016.

Facebook, for suspending his account when Twitter did.

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, for reporting that Trump has been privately critical of losing Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz.

Oz, for not being a vocal 2020 election denier. “His mistake,” Trump wrote. (Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, who made 2020 election theft the centerpiece of his campaign, lost by 10 more points than Oz did.)

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Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, for—ostensibly—being, along with DeSantis, one of the prominent Republicans who has tried not to associate too tightly with the MAGA movement. Wrote Trump: “Young Kin (now that’s an interesting take. Sounds Chinese, doesn’t it?)”

There’s a relevant if not surprising takeaway here, which is that Trump is not going to listen to those in his party who are suggesting that it might benefit from his toning down his rhetoric and ceding main-character status to less polarizing figures. The question: Will his supporters agree with these critics? On one hand, this is the party’s third consecutive disappointing election cycle—especially, this year, at the state legislature level. On the other, Trumpism has increasingly become premised on a faith-based belief that he represents a righteous majority and that events which indicate otherwise have been orchestrated by his enemies. We’ve been down this road before—many times, in fact—and it has always previously ended in the same place.

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