What is widely reported to be the impending indictment of Donald Trump by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg provides an example of many things — politically motivated prosecution, for starters, and, intriguingly, perhaps a hidden agenda. Here is a Democrat operative of the progressive Left, a man whose rise has been financially supported by George Soros, who turns hundreds of serious criminal offenders free without bail every month, yet who zealously pursues a matter other agencies have examined and rejected as a triviality unlikely to result in conviction.
Yes, we can reasonably suspect that Trump lied about a liaison with Stormy Daniels. Bragg’s case, such as it is, posits that a sex scandal would have hurt his chances of being elected to the White House, therefore the $130,000 allegedly paid to Ms Daniels to secure her silence counts as an unreported campaign expense. It is as doubtful that anyone but a candidate named ‘Trump’ would ever have become the target of such a grand jury inquisition as it is that such a scandal would have hobbled Trump in the least. Had it been, say, George W. Bush credibly accused of cavorting with a porn actress, then the shock would have been real — it’s just not W’s style. But there would have been no dropped jaws about Trump’s covert horizontalism coming to light, none whatsoever. This is, after all, the man who boasted on the front page of the New York Post of having left first wife Ivana for “the best sex I ever had” with soon-to-be second wife Marla Maples. Go on, DA Bragg, pull the other one.
Even from the distance of half a world away it all looks very much like the further partisan weaponising of American justice and, most worryingly, suggests an accelerating descent into the sort of Third World legal bedlam that would do Malaysia proud.
What chance that Trump will do jail time or pay substantial penalties? My surmise, and that of observers much closer to the US legal system, is zero. This is where events invite the imagination to roam free.
Might all this be a cunning plan by Democrats to ensure that, far from sewing mailbags in prison, Trump goes on to win the Republican 2024 nomination only to lose the presidential contest, even to Joe Biden once again, and thus crimp Republicans’ chances in both the Senate and the House of Representatives? Hence the dirty work being done by Alvin Bragg and other like-minded Democrat operatives. The calculation is that the MAGA base, in Pavlovian fashion, will play its anticipated role and arc up, ideally in another January 6-style faux “insurrection”. Need it be said that this will be depicted by Democrat auxiliaries in the media as rampaging Trumpists once again holding a knife to the throat of “our democracy”.
Meanwhile, while GOP voters rally to Trump, a Reaganite conservative (on the home front, if not beyond America’s shores), Florida’s Ron DeSantis, is denied the GOP nomination. Trump is the man Joe Biden’s handlers think he has the best chance to beat, as he did before, leaving them free to continue feeding their lines and policy statements into the AutoCue of a man whose pliable senility grows more obvious by the day.
We have a long way to go but, so far, such a Democrat stratagem cannot be discounted for the simple reason that it appears to be working, with the polls showing a Trump surge to a clear lead over likely rival DeSantis. On the domestic front, he has been highly successful, a shining exception to the absurd restrictions and lockdowns so favoured by Democrat state governors. Sound fiscal management and high relative economic growth have made Florida the destinations of hundreds of thousands from increasingly down-at-heel Democrat bailiwicks such as New York and California. Little wonder that he won a second term over former governor Charlie Crist, his Democrat challenger, by nearly 20 points last November. Under his governorship, Florida has been transformed from a marginal purple to a reliably red Republican state. Both the Florida Senate and House of Representatives now boast Republican supermajorities.
Some hailed Ron DeSantis as the new Ronald Reagan until he ventured into foreign policy, and not in some off the cuff statement but in a considered written statement in response to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, the chief critic on the right of current Ukraine policies. Given that World War II was spawned by so-called border disputes between Nazi Germany and Czechoslovakia in 1938 and Poland in 1939, we must sadly conclude that DeSantis’ dismissal of Putin’s aggression as a distant dispute between neighbouring states is a case of political, moral and strategic cowardice pandering to do-nothing isolationism.
DeSantis hasn’t the excuse of ignorance, Aaron Blake, in The Washington Post of February 21 summarized the view of then-congressman Ron DeSantis:
As a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, then-Rep. DeSantis often staked out hawkish positions on Russia and Ukraine, pointing to the Obama administration’s inaction after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
At a 2014 hearing, DeSantis warned that Putin’s justification — that Crimea was largely composed of ethnic Russians — could be extended to other nations and even some NATO members such as Latvia and Estonia. He pressed an Obama State Department official to confirm that the United States would defend those countries from a Russian incursion, as is the U.S. commitment under Article 5 of the NATO charter.
DeSantis, along with the other Trumpian neo-isolationists, should be required to prove that Putin does not aspire to restore the Czarist empire, as it was in the 19th century, thus absorbing Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Poland in the west. Given that Hungary was under the Austrian Hapsburgs, no wonder Victor Orban seems little concerned about Putin’s irredentism. We might also ask DeSantis and any new found isolationist supporters if they are happy to consign the Budapest Memorandum to the trash can. This was the agreement signed by the then newly independent Ukraine, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States to guarantee Ukraine’s security and territorial integrity in return for Ukraine surrendering its nuclear arsenal.
Fatuous talk of peace will only encourage Putin to suspect that after 2024 and the presidential election, Western resolve will crumble. We should never forget that the chief spectator of the Ukraine war is China’s Xi Jinping. Any slackening of support for Ukraine will translate into diminished support for Taiwan.
Unfortunately the Biden Administration has failed to articulate clear strategic goals in its support of Ukraine, other than helping it to avoid defeat. To say that we will support Ukraine for as long as it takes poses the question, ‘What is the end goal?’ The old Reagan answer, “We win, they lose”, is the best reply to the isolationist temptation. The US and its allies are in far too deep in Ukraine for any cessation of aid to be interpreted other than as another Afghanistan-style cut-and-run.
Returning to the Republican primaries during the next eighteen months or so, Trump’s unique brand of bluster and insults plus Democrat prosecutorial excess may serve to solidify his MAGA support base. As for DeSantis, his incursion into Trump’s support base may prove minimal, whilst his appeal to non-Trump conservatives could erode over time. Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley will demolish DeSantis’ foreign policy credentials in the coming debates. Could she emerge as the new conservative champion and successor to Ronald Reagan?
As is often said, a week is a long time in politics. A year is an eternity.