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The Right Resistance: Trump indicates it is about the money where future favor is concerned

There’s an H.L. Menken quote that seems to be popping up in relevance a lot lately: “When somebody says it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.

The funny thing is, no one has said these actual words about the 2024 Republican presidential primary race, but as the field has narrowed to two competitors – former President Donald Trump, the runaway frontrunner, and former Trump United Nations ambassador, Nikki Haley -- the money issue has reared its ugly head and could very well become a major bone of contention in a nominating contest that should, at this stage, be relatively free from controversy.


Trump is so far ahead in the polls that he can’t possibly lose, which has led to every candidate -- except Haley -- graciously bowing out and (most have) endorsing the former president. The calls to expunge Nikki have become so numerous and so brash that the “Get OUT!” cries are louder than those famously heard in the old Amityville Horror house.


Neither Republican candidate appears to be having trouble accumulating sufficient funding to keep going. Trump, of course, was a wealthy real estate developer, tabloid celebrity and reality TV star before ever entering politics. Trump made headlines in the early stages of the 2016 GOP race by refusing to take contributions, explaining that he preferred using his own dime and didn’t want to accept any party money, either, likely reasoning that he could then do and say anything he wanted without some donor or party establishment political honk giving him grief about the radical-ness of what he’d just proposed.


No one can say for sure whether Trump would’ve been harnessed by the Republican powers-that-be to begin with, but his establishment media-attracting behavior, his panoply of ideas and natural gift for “performing” in front of audiences garnered him millions’ worth of “earned media” coverage, which he subsequently converted into votes at the ballot box.


But make no mistake, Trump’s candidacy grew in stature because of his Make America Great Again agenda, which appealed not only to a large part of the traditional Republican base – full spectrum conservatives – but also to millions of “forgotten Americans” who believed, rightly so, that they’d been ignored and left behind by the DC political class.


Nikki Haley, on the other hand, has been gifted with the backing of big Republican contributors (and some Democrats, too) with one thing in common: they hate Trump and want him gone. No one’s asked them directly, but the ill-defined group has apparently opened their wallets for any establishment Republican who looked as though he or she could defeat Trump. Now, Haley is the last woman standing in that category – and she’s flooded with cash as a result.


The problem being Trump has now announced that he’ll lock the proverbial White House door to anyone who perpetuates Haley’s impossible mission by expanding her campaign coffer. So yes, even if it’s not about the money… it is about the money.


In an article titled “Trump warns Haley donors will be ‘permanently barred from the MAGA camp’”, Sarah Fortinsky reported at The Hill recently:


“Former President Trump railed against GOP primary opponent Nikki Haley on Wednesday and warned that anyone who contributes to her campaign would be ‘permanently barred from the MAGA camp


“’When I ran for Office and won, I noticed that the losing Candidate’s ‘Donors’ would immediately come to me, and want to ‘help out.’ This is standard in Politics, but no longer with me,’ Trump wrote in a post on his Truth Social platform. ‘Anybody that makes a ‘Contribution’ to Birdbrain, from this moment forth, will be permanently barred from the MAGA camp. We don’t want them, and will not accept them, because we Put America First, and ALWAYS WILL!’ Trump continued, using the nickname ‘Birdbrain’ to refer to Haley.


“Trump’s direct threat against Haley’s supporters signals a sharpening in his rhetoric, as the former president seeks to compel support from all corners of the GOP.”


Is this Trump just being Trump, or does he have a point? Trump’s often claimed that he’s a “very forgiving person” whenever former campaign rivals capitulated and endorsed him, a sane gesture Haley is yet to do. But Trump’s no-money-from-you missive is clearly directed at those substantial donors who’ve shunned him all along and bankrolled his enemies to severely slow down – or maybe even obstruct – the Trump MAGA phenomenon.


Money isn’t everything but it isn’t meaningless, either, especially in today’s hyper-expensive mega-campaigns.


Trump’s message is also meant to perhaps frighten Haley into recognizing that, by staying in, she’s not only blackballing herself from future political considerations, she’s also perhaps slamming the door shut to her most influential supporters – isolating them from the man who could be the next president of the United States. Does she care about such things? Maybe, maybe not. But the good folks at Boeing corp. (among her corporate connections) – or any big, government-contract dependent entity – might have a different take on Trump’s attitude.


And how about the Koch-founded Americans for Prosperity, which endorsed Haley relatively late in the race at the end of November last year? The higher-ups at AFP certainly must’ve realized what they were doing when they opted to hedge bets against Trump, but did they figure they’d someday be on the outside looking in by doing so?


It’s very possible that the warning Trump is sending via social media is something like this: “Some of you have tried for a long time to prevent me from serving the American people to make America great again. You thought you could stop me by dumping and wasting vast amounts of money to fund my opponents, both in the primary campaigns and the general election. It hasn’t worked. All the money in the world can’t slow down what we’re trying to accomplish, which is to give the government back to the people.


“Go ahead and continue to use up your money by propelling Nikki Haley forward. It’s value that should be spent more wisely by helping to defeat the real enemy, Crooked Joe Biden and the rest of the Democrats. Keep in mind, this race is over and I have a long memory.”


It’s hard to tell whether Trump’s admonition will have any real short-term consequence. At least by her public statements, Haley seems determined to carry through to South Carolina, but it’s not clear exactly why. Even if Nikki managed to make a New Hampshire-like showing in her home state, namely losing by double-digits and gaining the adoration of the Trump hating establishment media – she’s still forfeiting, albeit slowly, any chance to win the party nomination itself.


Nevertheless, some people are continuing to say nice things about her, which serves to pad her already considerable ego. But where the rubber meets the road, Haley’s second/last-place finishes don’t do anything other than leave her as a footnote in history as Donald Trump’s last remaining competitor and desperate, glory-seeker hanger-on.


One way or another, most of the Republican party has either moved on or will do so in the next month or so, since a fruitless symbolic campaign like Haley’s won’t have much staying power. Right now, at the end of January, with the Republican race having stabilized with Trump as the indisputable frontrunner and winner, it’s fun for the anti-Trumpers to still offer a horse in the race. But it won’t last. And, if backing Haley comes with long-term consequences for them, the jovial feelings will subside rapidly.


It's not just about the money, but yes, it is about the money. Because money equals power and political life. In Haley’s case, it’s counter-productive. Everyone knows she’s not going to win. As Chris Christie said on the hot mic not long ago, she’s going to get smoked.


In the past, Trump has been remarkably forgiving and apparently willing to forget old rivalries and animosities when his enemies have come around and publicly expressed support at long last. Though it must be said that Trump was repeatedly burned by people in his administration that were supposed to be supporters, the list of turncoats being long and disappointing. It is possible that Trump means what he says this time, particularly regarding those whose loyalty has been questionable, time and again.


For her part, Haley seems to be willing to sell her soul to sustain her bleak chances of unseating Trump, though it’s hardly clear what she’d do if she did manage to win the nomination. Are there enough Bush Republicans left to staff an effective Haley operation? Would the Trump legions rush out to vote for Nikki Haley in such a case? Would the grassroots go along? Will citizens dip into their strained budgets to cut a check for Nikki Haley?


What about all the down ballot Republicans? Most notable conservatives have either endorsed Trump or held their backing until the primary contest is settled. Will the vanquished Republican candidates be anxious to ask their supporters to switch to Haley?


When somebody says it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.


In looking up some of Menken’s other quotes, I found another one that seems more than appropriate for our times: “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.


There’s a moron in The White House right now, and if Haley were to sneak up and pass Trump, we might just make it two in a row.


As is usually the case, Donald Trump should be taken seriously when he says he’ll block out anyone who contributes to Nikki Haley’s campaign from now on. Even if he added that it’s not about the money – it would be about the money – but also the notion that some people want him gone so badly they’re willing to sabotage the country by backing Haley. Has it really come to this?

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  • 2022 elections

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1 Comment

The money would be great, but perhaps Trump realizes that he who provides the money also expects to reap the rewards. Anybody who is giving money to Haley is demonstrating that they have no ethical qualities. What kinds of pressure would they put on Trump after election? He doesn't need any more fair weather friends. One thing, though: I wish Trump would cease using terms like "birdbrain" even if it fits.

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