As they watch Donald Trump launch his third consecutive presidential campaign, many Republicans have been gripped by a sickening feeling of déjà vu. The Atlantic’s McKay Coppins believes the only plan is to sit around and hope Trump dies of natural causes. “Somebody is going to have to make the case that he cannot be the nominee in 2024 in the Republican Party,” urges John Podhoretz.
After the trauma of 2016, it is easy to see why Republicans fear a repeat performance. And it is certainly possible Trump’s rivals will either chicken out or once again devote all their energy to attacking one another until it’s too late to stop him. But the picture of the race I have in my head is very different. I see Ron DeSantis taking all the necessary steps to win the nomination. I think his chances of winning the nomination, while hardly certain, exceed Trump’s.
The Florida governor has spent the past year locking down the national Republican donor base and amassing a gigantic pool of money. Trump, by contrast, is reportedly strapped for funding.
In the past, Trump has managed to overcome a resource deficit by exploiting his command of the national media. But the conservative media is now overwhelmingly favorable to DeSantis. Trump retains some corners of support on the right, and very few conservatives will criticize him in any way that validates a critique from the center or the left.
But large segments of the conservative media are repeating the theme that Trump is played out, and essentially the entire conservative media apparatus is fawning over DeSantis. Even American Greatness — a publication named after a Trump slogan — runs stories with headlines such as “DeSantis Is the Night’s Big Winner” and “Only Ron DeSantis Can Win in 2024.”
Conservative media personalities are working directly with DeSantis payroll or vying for his approval and hand-fed scoops. The conservative media routinely runs stories that merely transmit DeSantis messaging to its audience unmediated. [Continue reading…]