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We thought he was a goner, but…

That Donald, I swear. You can drive for miles and miles into the countryside, drop him in the woods, and speed away thinking that at last you’re done with him, but nope. Next day he’s back at the door scratching to get in, and damned if the stalwarts of the Grand Old Party don’t open wide and usher the fat old cat straight back to his favourite spot on the couch. He’s un-quittable. In the immediate aftermath of the January 6 insurrection, Lindsey Graham was standing there in the Senate declaring he’d finally resolved to leap off the Crazy Train, but a week later he was back in the club car, all aboard for 2024. Mitch McConnell, despite having voted to acquit, made an eloquent speech following the second impeachment trial, going on record for all time that the sacking of the Capitol was entirely Donald’s doing, the product of his relentless lies and seditious rabble-rousing. Then, a couple of days ago, asked by some hairdo on Fox whether he’d support Trump if he was the GOP’s 2024 nominee, the very same Mitch didn’t skip a beat: Yes, absolutely. Nikki Haley, taking a good look at the wind sock, left off her tentative criticisms and made the pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago, hoping to kiss the ring, only to be brutally rebuffed. Too bad for her! She’s probably finished. Everybody’s scrambling to curry favour with the Base, which is irrefutably his Base, and he keeps raising money. Last I heard, he was up over 280 million since the election. You can’t get a Republican at gunpoint to admit on camera that Donald lost fair and square to Joe Biden, and most are hewing to the evolving orthodoxy that what happened on Capitol Hill last January was no big deal, and certainly not an armed insurrection, for the love of God. Heck, it was probably all Antifa and fake Trump fans anyway. Trump is OK! Trump is the future! All hail Trump! Even Mike Pence now speaks warmly of his former boss, who, don’t forget, loosed a mob upon him, hoping to see him hanged. You want to say to him, But Mikey, you want to say, they was fixin’ to see you dance at the end of a rope, pardner! Like, no foolin’! They was lookin’ to see you dangle! You was invited to a necktie party, sonny!

All is forgiven, if it happened at all, which it didn’t. Today, apparently, Donald is going to be the keynote speaker at CPAC, the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, an increasingly deranged affair which has, over the years, morphed from a distasteful little gathering of like-minded Ayn Rand-worshiping cranks into a mammoth, glitzy affair reminiscent of nothing so much as the famous 1939 “Pro-America Rally” in Madison Square Garden; longtime conservative Bill Kristol quipped Friday to Brian Williams that “we used to make jokes about the Star Wars Bar, but now it’s more like a Munich beer hall”. I’ve made great fun of CPAC before, once describing it, quite wittily I thought, as “Comic-Con for QAnon”:

I slay me. Yet the making of facile fun tends to paper over what a freak show of frankly horrifying white supremacist fascism CPAC has become, and how scary it really is to watch white guy after generic white guy taking the stage to whip the assembled faithful into a lather over the usual culture grievances and supposed values issues, all of which boil down to atavistic terror over America’s changing demographics. It’s so nutty these days that observers all over the web yesterday, echoed in the mainstream media, were prepared to believe that this year’s stage design:

…had something to do with an ancient Nordic symbol adopted as insignia by certain Waffen SS units, the Odal Rune, which stands for “heritage” or something like that (it probably stood for “blood and soil” to the Nazis):

I doubt it. There’s no denying the resemblance, but any number of exercises in simple geometry are apt to create similarities to primitive Runes, and anyway, it’s a bit subtle for the CPAC crew, don’t you think? Are we supposed to believe that the same yahoos who couldn’t find Mexico on a map of North America don’t just know enough to appropriate this sort of obscure Nazi regalia, but would do so expecting it to ring some sort of bell with the mouth-breathing brainstems in the viewing audience? Nah. Gotta be a coincidence.

I think.

That’s just it though, isn’t it? You have to think about it. If these whack jobs are going to be rolling golden idols of their Orange God King down the endless hallways of Florida convention centers, what’s out of the question? I mean, most of these folks are supposed to be Evangelicals, or at least good Christians, and even stone atheists like me were brought up with enough Bible learning to know about golden calfs and all that, but the irony seems entirely lost on the convention attendees, even as everyone else makes hay of it. Look at these people:

It’s not even a nice likeness. I bet even Donald doesn’t care for it.

And what’s with the Tinkerbell magic wand?

Anyway, today he’s back in the flesh. Everyone’s anxious to hear whether he’ll proclaim himself the GOP’s presumptive 2024 nominee, but whether he does or not, he seems destined to lord it over the party, calling the shots and setting the tone into the indefinite future. Just one more norm shattered by the irrepressible Donald. Former Presidents are supposed to retire quietly, and keep mum about national affairs, taking care not to get in the way of the new occupant of the White House while raising money to hire prominent architects, who’ll design tasteful libraries in which their voluminous papers can be curated by dedicated staff who’ll shuffle about in silence, perhaps sometimes exchanging the hushed whispers appropriate to the veneration of great statesmen. Stuff like that. That was never going to be Donald, though. The only real question was whether he’d gear up to run again.

Maybe it’ll be down to Cy Vance at the Manhattan D.A.’s office to save us, but I have a question for Mother Nature: why won’t he die? Seriously, Mother, why? Yes, he’s younger than Joe Biden, but still, he’s a corpulent 75 year old sack of shit who gorges on fast food and doesn’t believe in exercise, so why does he get to live forever? Why is 2024 even an option at this point? Why didn’t COVID do him in – sure, he had the best medical treatment a superpower could muster, but think about it, this virus kills thirty-something triathletes, so I don’t care how many gallons of monoclonal antibodies they poured into his IV – how does he pull through unscathed? I’m turning 60 on Wednesday, and I feel like I’m on death’s door. Why does he get to romp his way to victory four years from now? He shouldn’t even make it that far. He ought to be on the other side of the lawn already.

It puts the many would-be heirs to the throne in a bit of a quandary, so there’s that. The likes of Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz just have to wait and see, perhaps hoping against hope that Donald will step aside and give them their shot. Cruz probably has more pins in his Trump voodoo doll than I do, and boy, did you see the clips of him yesterday? There he was on stage screaming Freeeeeee-dommmmm, quoting, he said, William Wallace, while those in the crowd were doubtless asking themselves who’s William Wallace? He didn’t just look insane, he looked desperate. Maybe he sees the post-Cancun writing on the wall. Maybe he senses his moment is passing. Maybe he wonders, like I do, if it can really be true that Trump is never leaving, and feels just as cheated by the likelihood that he’ll be the one who croaks first. Probably just while Donald is gearing up for his 2028 run, having beaten the rap.

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