Two days after the midterm election, Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post published a striking cover. It “formalized” the break—pun intended—between Murdoch and Donald Trump. Are America’s political winds shifting?

The Post featured Trump’s head superimposed on a drawing of an egg-shaped man sitting on a brick wall. Headline: “TRUMPTY DUMPTY.” Subhead: “Don (who couldn’t build a wall) had a great fall — can all the GOP’s men put the party back together again?”

Republicans expected a red wave. The party in the White House usually gets pummeled. Instead, Democrats held the Senate; a win by Raphael Warnock in Georgia would give them 51 seats and dilute the obstructionism of West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin. 

Fingers pointed at Trump. The Wall Street Journal declared, “Trump Is the Republican Party’s Biggest Loser.” Pennsylvania’s outgoing Republican Senator Pat Toomey, commenting on results in the Keystone State, cited “. . . a combination of a real problem at the top of the ticket, but also President Trump inserting himself into the race.”

Major GOP donors are turning away from Trump.

Trump opponents thought the election made America safe for democracy—at least for now.  The New York Times’ Tom Friedman: “I am still not even close to ready to sound the all-clear . . . But . . . we may have just dodged one of the biggest arrows ever aimed at the heart of our democracy.” Challenges still abound, says Friedman, but “. . . enough Americans . . . do not want to keep dwelling on the grievances, lies and fantasies of Donald Trump . . .”

Last Tuesday, against the advice of many Republicans, Trump announced he’ll seek the GOP’s 2024 presidential nomination. The televised address was low-energy, filled with lies and inspired only his base. Wednesday’s Post ran a small headline at its cover’s bottom: “FLORIDA MAN MAKES ANNOUNCEMENT.”

Can the base assure Trump’s nomination? It still worships its master. Times guest essayist Tom Scocca asked, “. . . how do you declare defeat for a movement that is built around refusing to accept defeat? . . . The combination of resentment, rule-bending, and shamelessness that gave rise to Mr. Trump’s presidency is still the reigning attitude of the party.”

Of course, accepting defeat and being defeated are entirely different. Trump lost to Biden by 7 million popular votes and, of ultimate importance, 74 Electoral College votes. Joe Biden occupies the Oval Office.

GOP leaders have reason to worry about Trump’s interminable toxicity.

For example, in a November 10 social media post, Trump disparaged Virginia’s Republican governor Glen Youngkin: “Young Kin (now that’s an interesting take. Sounds Chinese, doesn’t it?) in Virginia couldn’t have won without me.” Is something wrong with being a Chinese-American? Can any self-respecting Chinese-American Republican support Trump?

And . . . what if the Department of Justice and District Attorney Fani Willis of Fulton County, Georgia, obtain indictments for, respectively, Trump’s squirreling away government documents at Mar-a-Lago and engaging in election interference?

In 1897, Mark Twain responded to speculation that he was gravely ill with, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.” Hailing Trump’s fall is a bit premature. But if Trumpty Dumpty remains in pieces, a fractured America may be on the path to a sustainable wholeness.

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  1. Jerry on November 18, 2022 at 10:48 am


    • David Perlstein on November 18, 2022 at 10:59 am

      Thanks, Jerry. There’s an old curse: May you live in interesting times. We’ve been cursed. Perhaps small blessings lie ahead.

  2. Tracy on November 18, 2022 at 12:30 pm

    The thing I find eternally amusing and depressing at the same time: that Americans think there is any real difference between the GOP and the Democrats. Deficit under Drumphy – trillions. Defecit underwear Sleepy Joe — trillions. The deficit under DeSantis — probably trillions.

    The grift never stops.

    • David Perlstein on November 18, 2022 at 12:43 pm

      I understand your Libertarian stance, Tracy. I grant that there’s much both parties can do better. But I can’t help believing that Americans numbering in the tens of millions think that when someone like Donald Trump inhabits the White House, when Congress hosts people like Marjorie Taylor Greene, there’s a world of difference between the parties.

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