Monday, July 17, 2023

Walking It Back, Subtly

Donald Trump is hearing footsteps. Of the three individuals- Tim Scott, Ron DeSantis, and Chris Christie- who have a reasonable chance of denying Trump the presidential nomination- only the discredited, former New Jersey governor has been loudly criticizing the ex-President, as he tries to goad Trump into stepping onto the debate stage.

Christie has attacked Trump over "grifting," the documents case, and American support for the Ukrainian government.  In March, before he entered the presidential race, Christie told right-wing, loyal Republican radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt

He’s afraid to get on the stage against people who are serious. And I’m sorry to see that he’s that afraid of it. If he’s that afraid of that, how can we count on him to do any better with President Xi than the failures he had in his first term with China? How can we expect him to do any better with Putin than having set the groundwork for the invasion of Ukraine, which his conduct towards Putin certainly helped to establish? This is a guy who seems like he’s afraid. And if he’s afraid, he has no business being president.

The failed ex-governor has contended that he would support Ukraine more enthusiastically than has President Biden, remarking "We need to send them the military hardware that they need to be able to fight the war against Russia and we need to make sure that this war is ultimately resolved on terms that are acceptable to Ukraine."

At a town hall meeting on Fox News on June 1, Trump promised "and I’ll stop that war, mark my words, I’ll stop that war in 24 hours." Supporter or critic, no one in the country, the world, or the planet failed to understand that he meant that he would put supreme pressure on Kyiv to surrender or at least agree swiftly to end the war on Moscow's terms. Yet, he wisely avoided spelling it out.

If Chris Christie is not the one Republican most likely to steal the nomination from Donald Trump, his relentless, borderline bellicose, criticism threatens to draw the ex-President into an argument neither may escape unscathed.  Thus, when asked on Fox News (at 2:41 of the video below) on July 16 by Maria Bartiromo "you said you would end the war in Ukraine in 24 hours. How would you do that?" Trump responded

I know Zelensky very well. I felt he was very honorable because when they asked him about the perfect phone call that I made, he said it was indeed, he said it was. He didn't even know what they were talking about. He could have grandstanded–" Trump said before Bartiromo cut him off.

"That's not going to be enough for Putin to stop bombing," she pointed out. Trump then explained how he would get Russia and Ukraine to end their conflict.

"I know Zelenskyy very well, and I know Putin very well, even better. And I had a good relationship, very good with both of them. I would tell Zelenskyy, no more. You got to make a deal. I would tell Putin, if you don't make a deal, we're going to give him a lot. We're going to [give Ukraine] more than they ever got if we have to. I will have the deal done in one day. One day," Trump responded.

Previously assumed- accurately- to be implying that as President, he would twist Zelenskyy's arm long and hard, Trump now maintains that he would severely pressure both parties.

This blunts criticism from Christie, who along with Asa Hutchinson- whom no one notices- is the only GOP candidate who won't kiss Trump's ring. Another advantage of Trump's pivot is that the 45th President has now planted himself firmly, resolutely, and defiantly on the fence- a convenient place to sit until he needs to pivot again. It is reminiscent of the promise made by presidential candidate Richard Nixon of "peace with honor," which got him elected before he presided over a humiliating defeat in the Vietnam War.

This fellow Trump is both smarter and slicker than he appears to his opponents. He's similar to a quarterback who sees the entire field or a linebacker who recognizes the play before it develops.  He has a good sense of whom his friends are, whom his enemies are, and how to respond to his advantage.  Those traits weren't enough to win a second presidential election because it took place as the USA was being crushed with a coronavirus which had stricken 9.3 million persons and claimed 232,627 lives.

SARS-CoV-2 now has killed over 1,134,000 Americans, nearly three times as many as the 392,428 lost before Trump turned the White House over to Joe Biden on January 20, 2021. And assuming Trump is nominated, Biden will be facing an opponent who knows a thing or two about strategy, including how to pivot effortlessly on the major foreign policy challenge of the day.,... and that's without even considering the Vice President.


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