Did I Miss Something?

My degree is not in political science but I’ve been observing and writing about politics for long enough that I feel I have a better than decent idea of what strategies should be. I also spent 15 seasons coaching basketball at reasonably high levels and like to think I have an idea of winning strategies there too. What is happening in the 2024 GOP presidential primary confounds me. With the notable exception of Chris Christie none of the others appear to be willing to take on the clear frontrunner, Donald Trump, at a moment he appears to be particularly vulnerable to attack.

Donald Trump is the candidate to beat if you want to win the 2024 GOP nod. It is that simple. Trump has just been indicted for the second time and it will probably not be the last between here and the end of the year. Yet, except for Christie, the other candidates have either not attacked him or have done so in such a wishy-washy way as to be totally ineffective.

(I’m going to flip in and out of sports analogies a lot today.) It’s like coaching basketball, your opponent’s only dominant big man picks up his fourth foul early in the second half and you refuse to go after him in an attempt to have him commit his fifth and disqualifying foul.

Let’s remove names and label for a bit and just look at pure political science. You enter a race as the underdog. The favorite gets indicted. The natural course of action is to attack them.

For those few who actually believe Trump is getting a raw deal I’ll offer this: In sports when a bad call goes in your favor and to the determent of your opponent, you just remain silent. You don’t protest to the official as their advocate. In your mind you feel it is only the balancing act of counteracting one of the calls that went the other way. (Hint: Only the very, very worst officials ever make a “make up call”.)

In politics, as in sports, if you want to be successful you exploit your opponent’s weakness.

It almost makes me wonder if (again with the exception of Christie) all the “challengers” aren’t really secret plants. We know with the structure of the GOP primary process that in a large field Trump is almost a sure bet unless he either dies, withdraws or self-destructs.
Trump is the worst kind of threat to the Republican Party – an internal one. Purging him – which the party desperately needs – cannot be achieved by effectively playing follow the leader when Trump is the currently leader.

There’s not a voluminous, complex message here today. As confounding as I find it; it is really simple. Before I leave, I want to clarify my position on Christie a bit least anyone think I’m endorsing him. That is far from the truth! I find the former New Jersey Governor amazing mostly because he has managed to avoid federal prison. I hope he is smart enough to realize he has almost no chance of securing the nomination. His verbiage is entertaining and I often agree with parts of it. Unfortunately for him voters largely gain their political information via TV and that is not his best medium. Only high and tight shots portray him in a flattering light.

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