Does Trump Really Want to Be President Again?

Victor Davis Hanson
American Greatness

Team Trump has sometimes compared Donald Trump’s current quest for a nonsequential second term to two-term President Grover Cleveland’s similar three election bids.

Cleveland remains our only elected (1884) president to have lost a reelection bid (1888)—in a disputed vote—only to be reelected four years later (1892).

Yet Trump seems determined instead to follow a different, and bullheaded, Teddy Roosevelt model.

Roosevelt left the presidency (1908), sat out four years, and then lost a reelection bid in 1912, split and alienated the Republican Party, and ensured the election of the progressive Woodrow Wilson.

Joe Biden’s first “corrective” two years have been an utter disaster.

Biden birthed hyperinflation. He destroyed a secure border and Trump’s energy self-sufficiency. Crime is now out of control. The United States was humiliated abroad in Afghanistan. Rising interest rates will soon spark a recession.

After promising to unite the country, Biden smeared half the voting population as “un-American” and “semi-fascist.”

In addition, almost all of Trump’s prior complaints, predictions, and assertions that the media dismissed as conspiratorial, or crackpot have proven eerily prescient.

Hunter Biden’s laptop was all too authentic.

The FBI was compromised and acted as an agent of the Democratic Party. Anthony Fauci proved a partisan.

Russian collusion was an utter hoax. It was engineered by Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee, and the FBI.

The Wuhan lab did likely birth the engineered COVID virus. That fact was covered up by the media and public health establishments.

Donald Trump did not take “nuclear codes” to Mar-a-Lago. He did not plan on hawking his presidential papers for profit.

Germany did weaken NATO. Berlin was foolish to mortgage its future with energy dependency on a hostile Vladimir Putin.

The Biden family was utterly corrupt. It was deeply involved in lucrative quid pro quo machinations abroad with China and a crooked Ukrainian government-related company.

John Brennan, James Clapper, James Comey, Anthony Fauci, and Robert Mueller all either did mislead, feign amnesia, or lie either to Congress or while under oath.

Twitter was corrupt in asymmetrically banning the free expression of conservatives. Silicon Valley elites did conspire to sandbag Trump.

The media was a fake news corrupt enterprise, as we see from the new Twitter trove, and the mass firings at CNN.

So given events since Trump’s departure, he should be in the driver’s seat. But he is not.

Why?

Rather than offering detailed correctives for Biden’s disastrous record, Trump is again dabbling in social media madness. He needlessly floated the absurd idea that constitutional norms might need to be changed to allow the disputed 2020 election result to be overturned.

He seems oblivious that the Left, not conservatives, talk of altering the Constitution. They call for the destruction of the Electoral College, and wish to dilute the Second Amendment and redefine the First.

Why did Trump need to descend into personal invective when prior to the midterms, many primary polls were confirming his front-runner status?

Why did he not remain magnanimous, unite the party, and focus on giving millions to his endorsed but endangered candidates like Dr. Mehmet Oz, Blake Masters, and Herschel Walker?

Why did Trump bizarrely claim that possible presidential rival candidate Glenn Youngkin’s name sounded “Chinese”? What was the logic of attacking Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) wife in racialist terms?

Every elected public official or candidate—with the exception of Barack Obama who once was photographed smiling with a grinning, Jewish-hating Louis Farrakhan— knows there is only one rule concerning antisemites: Go nowhere near them.

Yet Trump dined with two, the now unhinged Kanye West (“Ye”) and the 20-something crackpot Nick Fuentes.

Why would Trump all but announce before the midterms that after the election he would be a candidate?

Or why right before November 8, did Trump attack Ron DeSantis (“DeSanctimonious”), the miracle-worker Republican governor of Trump’s own Florida?

Did Trump wish to rile up left-wing Trump-haters to rush to the midterm polls, or to persuade miffed conservative DeSantis voters to stay home?

In the impending Trump-DeSantis collision, voters will be looking for resolution of two respective unknowns.

One, will Donald Trump run on his stellar record, avoid controversy, and stick to the issues? And will he thereby win back independent, swing voters on assurances that they could get more MAGA successes, but this time around without the insults and spats?

And two, could DeSantis assure Republicans of a fire-in-the belly, Trumpian zeal to take on the Left, while soberly promoting a MAGA agenda—and thus win over the hard-core Trump base?

So far, De Santis is reassuring donors and primary voters he can be as tough as his record is impressive.

But Trump is not encouraging the donor class and independent voters that he has learned that melodramas and social media riffs are not his friends.

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37 thoughts on “Does Trump Really Want to Be President Again?”

  1. Do Trump’s liabilities exceed his assets??

    All the discussion of Trump might be mooted by the case of BRUNSON v. ADAMS, now before the SCOTUS to determine if CERTIORARI will be granted.
    This case has now been identified by the EPOCH TIMES as worthy of coverage. If this case is heard and reversed it will make DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENT.
    Dr. Hanson might consider reviewing BRUNSON, which is more historically titillating than all other current topics

    https://www.theepochtimes.com/supreme-court-weighs-on-brunson-v-alma-case-that-could-overturn-2020-election_4907648.html?src_src=Morningbrief&src_cmp=mb-2022-12-08&est=6VYAXC%2Fb5LSlIwmAij8dDQG6n%2FG4y%2BBsc9CfsQrObURInPC6KDbMW33OGtf6LNp3fA%3D%3D

  2. Samson in the temple. Much as I admire Trump’s accomplishments, I don’t think the US needs another four years of all this. There has to be a generational change. Enough of Pelosi, Biden, Schumer, even McConnell, who have all been around far too long and whose horizons now are very limited. And even eight years of De Santis won’t be enough to eliminate the rot but it would certainly be a great start.

    1. Yes, he’s a narcissist which is a personality trait or a disorder depending on your viewpoint. He can’t help himself from his ego-driven faux pas as it’s literally “who he is”. Having NPD is a double-edged sword because it can result in great success and achievement (and often wealth) but it can also cause one’s demise.

  3. Donald Gehrig MD

    He, Pres Trump, did not write that the Constitution should be changed or abolished – he said at the start of that poorly constructed sentence, that “massive fraud” by the dems had, in their preemption of State laws (‘in the Constitution’) that were unlawfully changed by local bureaucracies!
    It’s bad enough when his enemies project upon him false actions or statements but when his most consistent national conservative commentator does, that hurts more!
    He’s not a politician! And, he doesn’t lie and why well over 51% of ‘US’ like and support him. Repubs have not lost elections, in 2020 and 2022, rather, the artful and deceitful dems have altered and stolen the final vote count – the forensics are really quite solid in proving that ‘in the bag’ or ‘reprogrammed Dominion software’ vote collections and tabulations are dark, very dirty and easily have changed the key state outcomes – “2000 Mules” alone did that!
    The realist and retaliatory prone Trump gets it, but the media-$-dependent meek, and get along to get along to avoid that $ cancelation, refuse to see what all successful developers must, the structural truth of their endeavors, and their competition! He’s playing hard ball and the rest of the political middle and right prefer softball, if not T ball!
    He’s in the US driver’s seat (if not the world’s), and the reset globalist cabal’s power elite, especially here, keep wanting to throw him out into an oncoming semi!
    Don’t help them! He fights!

    1. Victor, love what you say, normally, but wrong here. He is always one step ahead, and he will display it again. He is into loyalty and giving credit where it is due. Wish more people were. Trump knows now how to fix the Swamp, the real problem. No one else will find their way around to fix it, let alone know how. His business/executive experience and MBA education have proven so necessary to sound decision making. Experience not found in the military or Congress or local government or higher learning. I understand that those in those areas cannot see that as easily as private industry people who do not have a check handed to us. You are great, Victor, and I can never wait patiently to hear from you, but you are wrong here. Please correct it. thank you.

    2. He said what he said. We have way too many accumulated, bona fide eff-ups, which are followed by Pee Wee Herman-esque explainers (falling off the bike and then saying I meant to do that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJXU7EVXs2A&t=2s). We rightly mock Biden for his staff having to repeatedly “walk back” his comments, or to claim bald-faced that he did not actually say what he indeed actually said . . . but then we work overtime to be translators when Trump engages in patented verbal lunacy.

  4. Did you ever wonder how millions of people still believe lies even after the truth was revealed to them?
    My answer is they WANT to believe lies. So they can do bad things to people and evade responsibility for doing so.
    Whatever his faults, 45 understands this, at least as an enemy doctrine. People trained to judge facts as more valuable than opinions or wishes probably do not.
    I wonder if anyone ever sat down with ordinary Germans after the war and ask them what the Reich did for them. I suppose it would take a few healthy belts of schnapps to get the truth out. I suspect such a process might have hindered any post-war reconciliation.
    But I bet they all had an old friend or lover whom they wished would go away permanently, helped along by a tip or maybe a full-blown denunciation.

  5. Prof. Hanson, well done. I was full MAGA until his announcement to run in 2024 accompanied with personal attacks on his potential rivals for nomination. No doubt that the big Don is a political colossus with sterling accomplishments despite being attacked by pigmies beginning with his campaign in 2015 or 16.

    When the time came for being magnanimous, a time of incredible young R party talent, he has failed the call of greatness. Sad.

    Thanks for your accurate portrayal of a giant. If the result of his new campaign is the same as Teddy
    Roosevelt’s, I fear that the nation could end up in a one-party tyrannical Soviet-like state; the trend made obvious beginning with Obama and now Bidenista welfare-deep state collusion triumphant in 2020 and 2022 and implemented by a corrupt FBI and DOJ.

    Best wishes, Bob Geist

  6. Trump is Trump, like Patton, Sherman, Grant, LeMay, etc were themselves. In any fair election (paper ballots, voter ID) he wins in a walk, drama notwithstanding. Unless voter fraud is dealt with before 2024, he’ll lose again, hopefully he has a plan to expose / resolve it and isn’t just running to go out in a blaze of anti-establishment glory.

    1. Yes, there’s voter/election fraud but Voter ID isn’t the solution because it’s not the real problem. Dead people voting, people voting twice, etc. has always been around. What we’ve seen in the last two elections is a massive, well-coordinated operation. They target swing states where they have influence, have bought off election officials and judges. The culprits are universal mail-in ballots and early/extended voting. As we saw in AZ, the Democrats voted early. So they knew how many votes they needed to come up with – or suppress – in order to win. They also knew that Republicans, wary of the mail
      In ballots, would turn out heavily on Election Day which they did. So it all went according to plan for them. They had the infamous Dominion voting machines in place which they programmed to fail, especially in Red precincts. Now that’s how you rig an election in the 21st century. Same premise, same outcome, different methodology.

  7. I’ll resist resigning former Pres. Trump to the scrap heap just yet.

    The Democrats and never-Trumpers are quite capable of handling the early negative commentary.

    I suspect, as usual, he is thinking light-years ahead of his detractors.

    In the meantime, I’m willing to hear most any concrete argument demonstrating a potential candidate’s ability to perform on the the job as effectively as Donald Trump did.

  8. Victor,

    Thanks for a clear and concise article whether Trump can let go of the past. I have seen no evidence that he can. I say this as one who voted for him twice and will again if the choices are the same as 2020.
    That said I pray that we have no “rematch”.
    But even for me it feels like he’s ruining any chance with independents, moderates, and even some Democrats that do not like the tailspin Biden has put our country in.

    I believe there in lies the problem. Many of my friends and family are starting to look elsewhere or saying that though they voted for him and want his policies back they just can’t stand him.

    Be it ego or hubris I don’t see him letting 2020 go. Unfortunately after the last two years even if he claimed to I’m not sure I would believe him. This even after all he said, as you noted, that were called lies turned out to be true.

    Tis a sad state of affairs.

    John Nett

  9. “One, will Donald Trump run on his stellar record, avoid controversy, and stick to the issues?”

    There were some good things that happened under Trump, and some bad. And the good had to be forced on the Democrats. However, though it all Trump was pretty much a madman. Unfortunately, too many people think that perhaps Trump can be persuaded to change his stripes and act for the greater good. But all observation says that Trump acts for Trump, and he is becoming crazier and crazier.

    Conservatives can’t win with him. Didn’t this recent election show that? What is worrying is that when there are umpteen Republican candidates running for president he may start out with a significant portion of the initial vote and collecting delegates. If he doesn’t get the nomination, he might be vain enough to, like Teddy Roosevelt, launch a third party campaign that assures the Democrats win. However, if the Republicans can hold Congress they can shackle the Democrats, and a stalemated government is certainly not the worst of all prospective futures. In what is essentially a 50/50 country, it is perhaps the future we should expect.

  10. If Trump just said “This is what they did to me and I can handle all of the government and media hostility but you’re next. He should explain that nobody can withstand an onslaught from the IRS or the FBI or the corporate media.

  11. Michael Lee McKee

    Coming from anyone other than VDH, I would tend to dismiss the commentary as typical. However, I must admit, at this juncture, I am getting concerned, not to mention perplexed.

    Like all of God’s children with the exception of Jesus Christ, are fallen men and women. DJT is certainly no exception. He is however, I believe, far more vulnerable to situations and circumstances which may account for his words and actions.

    As a Vietnam veteran and former law enforcement officer, my mind has been pondering a litany of possible scenarios, none of which would I consider posting here. That being said, only time will tell.

  12. The man is and has been right more times than any other single candidate, President, or certainly ANY politician. People like myself, will remain in steadfast support for him for those reasons and because he has demonstrated a courage like no other in leadership; no matter how smooth, smart, educated or convincing their double-speak may be. It is really the simplicity of his raw courage and conviction that allows folks like me to over-look his flaws and actually see the heart of this great man. Most importantly, he has a stellar record as you have so brilliantly noted here. All the rest is silliness and we are more concerned by the establishment elites and moderates within the GOP because it is THEY who are destroying the Republican Party. I admire you Mr. Hanson but please don’t buy into the propaganda……you are too good a man and too smart for that.

  13. skip@pearson-realty.com

    A Trump/DeSantis ticket could win in 2024 but it won’t happen.
    Trump will not share the limelight and DeSantis will not be subservient.
    Nixon made white southerners Republican.
    Trump made the blue collar working class Republican. Trump’s achievement is huge because it cuts across all ethic groups, including the millions of undocumented workers crossing the border.
    Trump is a consequential ex-president who has tremendous power in that role. He really might not want to be president again.

    1. I think you forget the “Reagan Democrats” who were substantially blue collar, small business owners, or middle class. Certainly Trump amplified the support of blue collar workers and small business owners, but the trends were underway before him. The Democrats have largely become the party of people who work in industries that don’t require blue collar workers (and also of blacks). Republicans are the party of people who work in industries that do. The Democrats’ hostility towards industries that “kick up a little dirt” have succeeded in aligning the interests of workers with their management.

  14. Here is a reply I made to a friend on the subject of Trump: “Lxxxx, history will show how supporting successful policies; including and most of all, actions that are in line with our Constitution, WORK. MAGA did this and whoever employed that strategy succeeded. DiSantis is a prime example and there are others. But even he would not be able to take what’s planned for the next GOP President. Trump can and it’s that simple. The guy some people love to hate is the guy who will, as already proven, stand against the enemy and not be moved. It we don’t have that strength & quality going forward, the entire country and our way of life is doomed. Way too simple a concept, but it’s the truth. Establishment types, Elites, the old GOP and so called moderates are destroying our Party because they are desperate to keep their “membership.” Trump’s pragmatism and raw speak is accompanied by a courage that thus far, no other candidate or potential candidate has. You see, I can handle that DiSantis is a tad sanctimonious (watch his acceptance speech), I’m perfectly fine with his flaws because he is a very smart man and has succeeded by focusing on policy that works. I also like him in spite of whatever shortcomings he has because he is human as we all are. Trump has NEVER been afforded the luxury of people understanding him with the exception of his base, and that’s NEVER going to be changed by any propaganda.”

    1. A little long in saying Trump can stand the heat so we want, make that NEED him in the kitchen.
      I heartily agree I hope you friend gets the message.

  15. skip@pearson-realty.com

    In the last 1/3 of the 20th century, the mass media pretended to be objective but got progressively more liberal. In this century
    the media no longer pretends to be objective. Facts are changed, or not reported, to support the progressive agenda. Fake news is OK. The end justifies the means.
    Trump brought this revelation to the public’s attention. Free speech is the cornerstone of democracy and it is being threatened by propaganda and censorship.
    Trump is in a unique position, as a consequential ex-president, to counter the assault on free speech.

  16. I fear Trump will not learn, insults and spats seem to be in his DNA.
    I am a very strong Trump supporter, but I see De Santis as the better deal.

  17. Without President Trump❤, our country is finished. The Left/neocons know this. Never DeSantis. He never spoke out as a congressman and would have lost the FL gov seat if Trump hadn’t endorsed him. Yeah, a “great gov.” He has been guided by Pres Trump. Not much of a congressman, but now seen as zealous and determined?😃 The only people besides Pres Trump who are honest and zealous are Matt Gaetz and Devin Nunes.❤

  18. It seems you have left your “The Case for Trump” rhetoric, and become a detractor of the only American president to help the American middle class. The only reason Trump is hated is because of MSM lies and desecration of our Constitution. He was over the target and was and is being severely punished. Please realize DeSanctimonious is a career politician and does not have the back bone to put up with the barrage of criticism that Trump and his family have endured for the last 7 years .
    If it is true that Wisdom comes from suffering? Then I would like to cash in on some of that wisdom from another Trump presidency

    1. i made a mistake. i apologise.

      i “assumed,” vdh, that you knew what you were saying re the trump “error” and the constitution. i thought you would know the real truth. stupidly, i trusted you over reading trumps actual remarks.

      in truth, he said nothing wrong, made no improper comments.

      rather, he commented upon a society that has become so prostituted with stupidity, lies, corruption, and deceit, that the constitution (our baseline o
      for liberty and american morality) with our most precious gift—the vote—is at risk. if the vote can be so vandalized, all constititional laws may be violated, broken, as well. this is what trump said, and, he was absolutely correct.

      read it again, vic. people respect, rely upon, trust you. its a yuuge responsibility you bear.

  19. Trump has done so much and proven beyond a doubt that he’s competent. He’s the type of person that’s perfect for the job of President. In a moment of magnanimity he gave his salary away to charity. He stared down Europe and glad handed North Korea into friendship.

    But so many people hate him with a visceral, irrational and even insane emotion we loyal supporters question our choice. Is DeSantis the next Scott Walker or any number of early bloomers who’ve wilted before election day?

    We wait 2 years to choose.

  20. This smells like Ken Griffin’s PAC money at work. Unlike many commenting here, I’ve done some looking into Ron DeSantis, and something stinks. His money comes from all the wrong places and his strategists used to work for all the wrong people. Everyone knows Trump would run again after a stolen election and being under threat of unlawful prosecution, so why would Ron run, with 25 years of possibilities in front of him? Why has he not addressed nor disavowed the support of Con Inc and the Bill Kristol phonies? Why is Dave Rubin, Ben Shapiro, Lisa Boothe etc on Ken Griffin’s payroll to dump Trump, yet none will say it openly? It is folly to think that the GOP learned nothing about preventing another Trump, perhaps with a Trumpian creation of their own…just more palatable to the wine moms and low-t republican men?

  21. Does Trump really want to be president again? Yes, because he is running. His powerful foes are trying to destroy him and his family. How else can he destroy them before they destroy him?

    Why is second term nonsequential? Kindly explain.

  22. Yes, seems like the narcissistic side of Trump has grown to tragic proportions . . . my (our) hope does now lean to DeSantis.

  23. Trump has exhausted many of folks belief in him as he continues to behave like a sugared up 12 year old at a sleep over.
    I don’t think VDH could have laid it out any better than he did because the question really is, why does he have to behave in such an unpresidential manner confirming what many think of him, when he seeks the seat a second time?
    All he has to do is shut up and repeat his record.
    He’s not ever going to change rigged elections they are hear to stay.
    God Bless & Happy Holidays!

  24. Dan Westmoreland

    Any President can have a robust economy–if as Trump did! leave it alone. Regulation is the killer. Trump now wants a get out of jail free card. Like to see him and Hunter Biden eating powdered eggs in Leavenworth –til death do they part.

    1. Interestingly, the US economy varies regionally with some states doing much better than others, notably some red states like TX and FL, or former red states now turned purple such as GA. Meanwhile, many blue states, some long dominated by Democrats, have withered, notably IL but also RI, CT and upstate NY and PA. However, both Obama and Biden will point to strong economic growth in Texas and say “yup, it was me, I done that”. If so, why don’t they do it in Illinois too?

  25. While I would love for Trump to take on a different persona, that of an articulate statesman, while keeping his fight for what’s right, I will refer to my mother’s advice to wish in one hand, crap in the other and see which one fills up first (yea, my mother had no problem using that other word). Trump is not able to change his stripes and many do not want him too.
    Obama was a smooth talking pol and what did he give us!
    I’m sticking with the rude/crude talk with the right message for the Nation. I believe he will be even more productive in round two knowing where those swamp pits are!

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