Failure Theater

Former President Donald Trump participates in a Fox News town hall with moderators Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier on January 10, 2024 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Most Dispatch readers were presumably relieved, possibly even excited, when news broke Wednesday that Chris Christie would end his presidential candidacy. Nikki Haley’s obstacle to consolidating normie Republican voters in New Hampshire against Donald Trump had abruptly removed himself. She now stands a puncher’s chance at a momentous upset.

But you know me. My first thought, which I shared with the rest of the staff in our Slack channel, was that Christie may have spent so much time on the trail lately badmouthing Haley as a coward and closet Trump sycophant that his Trump-hating supporters won’t rally to her after all.

That was bleakly nihilistic under the circumstances even for yours truly, I admit. It prompted one of my colleagues to define my brand of pessimism as “finding a giant pile of manure on Christmas morning and being sure there’s a dead pony in there somewhere.”

I don’t always look for the pony. Tuesday’s newsletter was optimistic. Sort of.

We’re going to look for the pony today, though.

Wednesday evening should have been a good one for anti-Trump conservatives. Christie was out, instantly maximizing Haley’s chances of victory in the northeast. She and Ron DeSantis received two hours in prime time on CNN to make their closing arguments to Iowans. And Fox News anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum got a crack at making Trump squirm at a live televised town hall in Iowa.

In the end, it was not a good night. The manure pile was truly giant.

And there was a dead pony in there. Each of those three events showcased a different strategy toward Trump’s looming renomination. Denial, in the Haley/DeSantis debate. Resistance, in Chris Christie’s farewell speech. Accommodation, in Fox’s handling of its event with Trump.

All three strategies are failures.

This content is available exclusively to Dispatch members
Try a membership for full access to every newsletter and all of The Dispatch. Support quality, fact-based journalism.
Already a paid member? Sign In
Comments (348)
Join The Dispatch to participate in the comments.
Load More