With yesterday’s vote by the January 6 House committee to subpoena his testimony, Donald Trump gains yet another opportunity to remain on the national stage. Once upon a time, former presidents disappeared into the golden sunset of horse rides and fishing trips, planning their libraries and playing with grandchildren. Trump remains a criminal suspect, a target of too many investigations to list. We might hate it, we might be thoroughly sick of him, but he loves all this attention. He thrives in it. What any of us would consider bad news — an FBI search of a house, a subpoena to testify before a congressional committee, an effort to shut down a family business accused of committing serial fraud — Trump sees as opportunities to remain in the spotlight, a martyr in a red tie adored by millions. 

He keeps hinting at running for the White House again, and all around the country — including here in blue-blue Maryland — candidates latch onto his tie in the belief his endorsement is golden.

They have not yet figured out that Trump is a loser. A loser in business, a man who lost money on casinos, unwilling to release his tax returns because they might reveal that his billionaire status is a lot of baloney. Trump’s name is on a short list of incumbent presidents who lost reelection to the nation’s top office. Before his defeat to Joe Biden in 2020, only 10 presidents had ever been defeated in their quest for another term. We will soon see if a Trump endorsement is a stain or gain for Republican candidates in the November midterm elections.

Many are of the belief that none of this matters, that Trump can do no wrong in the eyes of the MAGA base — that getting indicted will make him even more popular.

But remember: The MAGA base is not America. More than six in 10 Americans do not want Trump to run in 2024, according to a PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll in September. Only a third of the electorate is in his corner, and the poll showed only 28% of independents supporting Trump for another campaign — a significant drop of 13 points from 2020 exit polling that showed that 41% of independents had voted for Trump’s reelection. So, if you think there’s been no erosion in the Trump foundation, you’re probably too much of a pessimist.

He’s going nowhere, except maybe to a federal prison camp.

More distressing than a Trump second coming is all the damage he did in his one term. He’s like a Category 5 hurricane, leaving mass destruction in his wake. He added three extreme-right and relatively young justices to the Supreme Court; he inspired insurrection and an attack on constitutional order, unleashed more racial hatred, and his grotesque presidency eroded public confidence in competent, honest government for the good. There’s still a large question about whether that damage is permanent, and whether our republic will survive Donald Trump.

One thought on “Trump subpoenaed and diminished, but the damage done

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