You won’t find the quote in the annals of classic movie history -- it stems from the 1998 Rom-Com “Six Days Seven Nights” starring Harrison Ford as a carefree pilot and the late Anne Heche as a vacationer to the South Pacific islands surrounding Tahiti. In posing the question, Ford’s character was describing the gravity of their situation after the pair survived a small plane crash on an uninhabited tropical island (filmed on the island of Kauai in Hawaii, so the visuals are stunning).
Not many folks would look to a quarter of a century old romantic comedy to encapsulate the 2024 presidential race, but Harrison Ford’s words certainly capture the essence of the grand struggle in one sense. Few are brave enough to call for former president Donald Trump to leave the Republican field because of his legal (and possibly criminal) issues, but one longtime conservative commentator did just that earlier this week.
“A Trump withdrawal from the 2024 race would open up the field to candidates with less, or little, political and personal baggage and help voters to focus more on important issues than Mr. Trump’s caustic personality. A Trump withdrawal might also partially reduce the bitterness and the attitude of revenge Mr. Trump has fomented to further poison the political waters and divide us in ways not seen since Vietnam and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy in 1968.
“For the good of the country, Mr. Trump should quit the race. President Johnson did. Richard Nixon refused to challenge the election results against JFK in 1960 ‘for the good of the country.’ Nixon would resign from the presidency in 1974 over Watergate, perhaps not so much for the good of the country. It worked out that way, however, because he faced impeachment and had lost support among congressional Republicans.
“Mr. Trump claims to have always put America first. Here’s his chance to prove it once and for all.”
Cal Thomas has commented on conservative politics for decades and his opinion should always be taken seriously, but to advocate for Trump to remove himself from the 2024 GOP race is somewhat startling, especially for someone who isn’t used to mincing words. Were Trump to suddenly withdraw from the upcoming primary contest due to the prosecutor’s office hubbub in New York and Georgia, it would rank as one of the most amazing developments in American history.
A spontaneous Trump exit would definitely open the field to candidates with less “baggage” than Trump possesses, but would the “new” group come with as many “baggage” handlers as Trump does? The vetting process has barely begun and researchers from both parties are busy digging into the backgrounds of every declared candidate as well as those suspected of harboring intentions to enter the fray.
Trump’s “baggage” is so widely-known that there probably isn’t anything left to discover, leaving his enemies in both parties going back years to controversies beyond the statute of limitations to try and stop the man now. Trump’s backers have gotten so used to hearing about some new investigation that everything simply recoils off the man like the old kids’ saying “I’m rubber, you’re glue, anything you say bounces off me and sticks to you.”
The threat of indictment hasn’t even slowed Trump down and there’s very little to suggest that anything a New York prosecutor – or the Attorney General of the United States – dredges up will alter the dynamic in any appreciable way.
Besides, beyond the obvious historic implications, Trump’s taking himself out of the game would weaken the GOP field immeasurably. Here’s thinking if Trump were to leave, we’d see something similar to the early 2020 Democrat race where practically every liberal with ambition gave running for president a try and ended up diluting the product. This year it would result in a large – but outwardly weak – pool of contenders.
Sure, Ron DeSantis would (likely) still be there, but, as pointed out many times before, DeSantis is yet to hold his own on the national stage. The Florida governor has compiled an impressive conservative resume, but will he prove successful in capturing the imaginations of the “forgotten Americans” the way Trump did seven years ago?
It shouldn’t be ignored that Trump was a builder and TV star long before he entered politics. Trump understood messaging and presentation like no other politician in the modern era, with skills that exceeded even those of Big Bubba Bill Clinton and the golden-tongued community organizer from Illinois, Barack Obama.
Trump’s abilities aren’t something you can just pick up at the box store. Without him in the race, the floodgates would open to a host of lightweight pretenders who would suck up the limited amount of oxygen (and exposure) for presidential candidates. Trump added star power to the 2016 field, something it definitely lacked in the previous two nominating cycles.
As far as reducing the amount of division and vitriol in politics today, it wouldn’t matter whether it’s Donald Trump or Ron DeSantis or Nikki Haley or Vivek Ramaswamy or Chris Christie or Mike Pompeo or Kristi Noem or (insert rumored Republican candidate here), the establishment media would pull out all the stops to make that person look like the second coming of Adolf Hitler in the eyes of voters regardless.
And the same low-information drifters who generally avoid talking politics because they don’t have a clue about it or are afraid they won’t be popular aren’t going to look at Trump’s Republican replacement with any more favor than they did Trump himself.
Democrats have a virtual monopoly on the ignorant and apathetic, with plenty of leftist seed money to fund organizations which target the most intellectually challenged among us. Why sugarcoat it?
Thomas’s main point – that Trump should leave the race “for the good of the country” – only adds so much value to his assertion. Trump is controversial to the nth degree and seemingly goes out of his way to generate more at every opportunity, but it’s hard to demonstrate that a Trump-less America would be better off. Lots of people cringe when they hear Trump’s name, but they’re heartened by his policy emphases and willingness to take on the swamp to accomplish things that no one else ever did.
How many presidential candidates – then presidents – promised to move the United States Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem? Which one of them disregarded the forecasted uprising from the Islamic World and actually did it? Which of the current or potential presidential candidates (including senile Joe Biden himself) will do whatever it takes to squelch illegal immigration? Which would have the gravitas and thick, media-proof skin to push for national school choice?
These and other conservative agenda items are what makes for unity in America – and, if given a fair hearing in the court of public opinion, would heal divisions. I’ve often pondered why it’s so difficult to sell the concept of freedom and constitutional liberty to the population, and it’s largely because today’s political class doesn’t even try to do it.
Democrats pitch nothing but dependency and the “need” for government to “invest” and dive into personal and business matters to ensure “diversity, equity and inclusion”, which is woke poison to any nation where folks are supposedly created equal and treated so under the eyes of the law. Democrats are the ones who pit people against each other – rich vs. poor, minorities vs. the so-called white majority, LGBTQIA+++ vs. “normal”, old vs. young, and so on.
Trump draws fire – and legal scrutiny – because he had the guts to state things plainly. Trump loves being liked and adored but he doesn’t depend on it. He’s not out to be a contestant in one of his old beauty pageants and couldn’t care less whether he’d get “fired” on his reality TV show. Why? Because he was the one doing the firing.
Donald Trump believes he puts America First by staying in the presidential race – and ultimately, by winning it. Trump’s deep trust in his own abilities and leadership qualities places him in a different category in today’s politics. Democrats attempt to change the discussion by making it all about Trump, and yes, the candidate himself could do a much better job of sticking to the issues that brought him to where he is today rather than waging an unwinnable rhetorical war.
But it’s really hard to agree with Cal Thomas’s claim that Donald Trump should take himself out of the 2024 race “for the good of the country”. One way or another, the Republican Party – and the nation itself – benefits from Donald Trump’s presence. Trump forces the others to talk about uncomfortable things like what to do about NATO and the millions of illegal aliens inside our borders.
You just can’t sugarcoat it – Donald Trump should remain a candidate. How’s that for right between the eyes?
Joe Biden economy
Biden cognitive decline
January 6 Committee
Build Back Better
Marjorie Taylor Green
2024 presidential election