If My Grandmother Had Wheels: The Future of the Republican Party

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A.B. Stoddard, Trump Torched the GOP. A Business Leader Could Rebuild It.

Righty-ho. And if my grandmother had wheels, she could ride on the railroad track.

The author does point out, correctly, that all of the Republican empty suits pressing their candidacy for 2024 are trying to inherit the Trump base.

Bret Stephens, What Will a Post-Trump G.O.P. Look Like?

The New York Times hired Mr. Stephens away from the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, to add a voice from the right to its editorial page. After yesterday’s column, I am not at all sure they got their money’s worth.

Stephens imagines what will happen if Trump and the Republicans suffer a decisive loss in November. (I skip over the part where he hypothesizes a Trump victory or a narrow loss.) In the case of a humiliating Trump defeat, he writes,

The infighting will begin the moment Florida, North Carolina or any other must-win state for Trump is called for Joe Biden. It will pit two main camps against each other. On the right, it will be the What Were We Thinking? side of the party. On the further right, the Trump Didn’t Go Far Enough side. Think of it as a cage match between Marco Rubio and Tucker Carlson for the soul of the G.O.P.

Both sides will recognize that Trump was a uniquely incompetent executive who — as in his business dealings — always proved his own worst enemy, always squandered his luck, never learned from his mistakes, never grew in office. Both sides will want to wash their hands of the soon-to-be-former president, his obnoxious relatives, their intellectual vacuity and their self-dealing ways. And both will have to tread carefully around a wounded and bitter man who, like a minefield laid for some long-ago war, still has the power to kill anyone who missteps.

That’s where agreement ends. The What Were We Thinking? Republicans will want to hurry the party back to some version of what it was when Paul Ryan was its star. They’ll want to pretend that Trump never happened. They will organize a task force composed of former party worthies to write an election post-mortem, akin to what then-G.O.P. chair Reince Priebus did after 2012, emphasizing the need to repair relations with minorities, women and younger voters. They’ll talk up the virtues of Republicans as reformers and problem-solvers, not Know-Nothings and culture warriors.

The Didn’t Go Far Enough camp will make the opposite case. They’ll note that Trump never built the wall, never got U.S. troops out of the Middle East, never drained the swamp of Beltway corruption, ended NAFTA in name only, did Wall Street’s bidding at Main Street’s expense, and “owned the libs” on Twitter while losing the broader battle of ideas. This camp will seek a new champion: Trump plus a brain.

These are two deeply unattractive versions of the party of Lincoln, one feckless, the other fanatical. Even so, all who care about the health of American democracy should hold their noses and hope the feckless side prevails.

A Fatal Flaw in the Analysis

Why in the world does Stephens imagine that “both sides will recognize that Trump was a uniquely incompetent”? Does he think Trump and his family will just disappear? Does he think the Trump cultists will suddenly deprogram themselves in a poof of magical pixie dust?

What in the world is he thinking?