We are, we might say, deep in the thick of it. Until recently we heard constantly how there was no accountability for the ex-President, no investigations or prosecutions, of anything tied to the denouement of the Trump presidency, save for the men who actually entered the Capitol complex on January 6th. Now we learn that there are and have been multiple investigations touching on various incidents tied to the end of the Trump presidency. There was a bunch of frothy and nonsensical chatter earlier in the week about how the FBI had just given the presidency back to Donald Trump. This morning the House Freedom Caucus, ground zero of Trumpism and coup plotting, canceled the press conference they had planned to bewail the FBI search of the ex-President’s home. Facts change and you have to react to them.
It is probably best to say that we are back in one of those fugue windows Trump Republicans have, much like January 7th-9th 2021, in which there’s a period of relative silence while a story is devised to explain why something inexplicable and indefensible is in fact awesome and totally fine. They’ll get there.
I will tell you what I told a friend a couple days ago about the Mar-a-Lago search. None of it matters. I didn’t mean the raid itself doesn’t matter. I wasn’t saying whatever the FBI agents were looking for wouldn’t matter. I have no idea. But the particular predicate and exigencies of the search or the decision to carry it out was never going to matter to the outcome of the 2022 election. Only the myopia of political commentators who read events of the day like entrails to divine the future would think otherwise. The population of voters who aren’t already hating or loving Trump and are going to be shifted in their political or electoral calculus by the relative merits of a court ordered search warrant don’t amount to a dozen people in the whole country.
People sometimes have a hard time not thinking stupid things.
I’m not going to try to predict what the outcome of these various probes will be or why on earth Donald Trump might have been, if he was, keeping highly classified nuclear weapons related materials at his Palm Beach resort. Truly, WTF? But one point is already clear enough. Republicans have rightly tried for most of the last six months to keep Donald Trump, literally and figuratively, out of the midterms. He’s now returned with a vengeance. They have no choice but to defend him. To the hilt. It’s the bargain they struck with him years ago. That’s bad news for Republicans. Coming on top of much else that has happened over the summer, that development shifts the election from a referendum on Joe Biden and the generally upended and crappy state of the economy and world to a choice election between Democrats and Republicans who are identified with Donald Trump.
I’m not saying that means the Democrats will have a good election necessarily. But it’s a bad development for Republicans. There’s no getting around that.