These Guys in 2024?

I am of the opinion that Trump is as dead as Elvis for 2024. And the steady drumbeat has sunk in for many, and even some Democrats are now counseling that Biden not run for reelection.

These Guys in 2024?

Let me get this out of the way right up front. I don't think the 2024 Presidential election will be a Biden-Trump rematch. But before I give you my predictions, let me explain why.

And I really should preface this with the observation that none of the Trump comments will matter one whit to the MAGA faithful. Donald Trump has defied gravity for them for years. Porn stars, Epstein, failed businesses, multiple wives and multiple affairs, leadership skills at the Col. Klink level, revelations of a plot to undermine an election and the temperament of one of the "Mean Girls" ('stop trying to make fetch happen'); all of it has rolled off their backs.

It is indeed a testament to his salesmanship, if one is honest. The folks at his rallies have apparently been so starved for some sort of representation, that this man-baby in makeup will simply have to do. If you are a standard issue conservative, southern man who likes the outdoors, works hard for a living, knows which end of a gun the bullet exits and loves his wife, this porcine son of privilege with a thick layer of pancake should be anathama. But he has won them over.

And more mainstream, traditional Republicans have found themselves having to fall in line or fall out. The MAGA folks are the most activist and motivated segment of the party. But the latest revelations from Chief of Staff Mark Meadows' top aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, are so damning they may give actual Republicans the cover they need to declare independence, just in time for the 4th.

The pushback began immediately, of course, most obviously by the Three Numbskullteers on Fox primetime. Poor Tucker was so desperate to deflect that he accused the Biden administration of planning to  put antidepressants in the public water supply to keep Americans passive. Well, after fluoride has sapped our precious bodily fluids, that is. Hannity declared Hutchinson's testimony hearsay, even though much of it was spoken directly to her. That isn't hearsay, Sean, which you would know if you went to college. And Laura Ingraham is simply misleadingly editing tape.

We now know that the former El Jefe wanted to act like one. He wanted to go to the Capitol in person on January 6th, though the Secret Service apparently refused. Can you imagine him striding into the Senate chambers like Batista, declaring the whole thing had to stop? It's the stuff of a bad movie. We also know of the plot the substitute phony electors for the real ones, and the number of close aides who tried to explain that his fever dream of massive voter fraud was some sort of political acid trip. The word damning doesn't cover it. It calls to mind a toddler sitting in the middle of the living room, kicking his feet and declaring he won't go to bed.

But suffice to say, when the Washington Examiner declares a conservative officially as politically pushing up daisies, he has lost the thread. The opposition ads are writing themselves right now, and there is more to come, so I am of the opinion that Trump is as dead as Elvis for 2024.

So that clears the field for the President, right? Well, not really. Joe Biden is facing headwinds he can't deal with in time for the race. He didn't create inflation or the supply/demand issues with gasoline, but to be brutally honest, his demeanor makes that inability look like weakness. The persistent campaign to depict Joe Biden as old and feeble, lacking energy, verve and simply weak, has frankly been effective. The Biden of just a decade ago could have fought back, but it is apparent he has lost a step. It happens to all of us, though not usually on the national stage. It isn't fair as your decision-making powers are not necessarily reflected in your speaking style, but we live in a world of appearances. And the steady drumbeat has sunk in for many, and even some Democrats are now counseling that he not run for reelection.

So, who then? To me, the choices seem obvious. On the Republican side, the most viable candidate right now is Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida. No? Who else then? The party has drifted ever more to the right, and the idea of nominating someone like a Mitt Romney these days seems absurd. No offense to Mitt, who seems a decent fellow, but the energy is to his right and the elitist controversies of his first run now seem quaint. If you don't spit fire and throw thunderbolts today, you are a RINO. The latest polls show DeSantis is the preferred Trump alternative, and that was before the latest revelations. And to be blunt, Trumps latest tweet-storms, or whatever they call them on "Truth Social," are just reminding folks of the tiresome regularity of his whining at every perceived slight.

So, who else? The dependable McConnell toady, John Barrasso? Kevin McCarthy, who has a wet finger in the wind to decide the day of the week? Ted Cruz (R-Cancun)?   If there is a less likeable public figure on the scene today, I have yet to meet him. Oh, wait. I do know Dan Patrick. Jim Jordan, for crying out loud? No, DeSantis has made a lot of high profile statements and the publicity around his every ultra-right wing pronouncement has "I'm Running" written all over it. He's in and the favorite.

For the Dems, who is on the bench? None, I repeat none of the gang who ran in 2020 are even in consideration, and trust me, Hillary has had enough pummeling for one lifetime. It isn't fair, but Kamala Harris is a far better politician than her critics would ever admit. But she, too, has been caricatured to an extent that is almost unsurvivable. Buttigieg? Please, be serious. AOC? Only if the party has a Jonestown level death wish. Although, perversely, AOC versus Marjorie Taylor Green would be enough to make most folks pray to be abducted by aliens. I would personally ask for asylum in Mexico.

As an aside, I will never understand why Democrats let their prominent figures be parodied and insulted without fighting back. That passivity is deadly in today's political environment and the lack of fight in the party hurts them with the public at large. At some point, they need that spine replacement surgery critics have recommended.

To me, the Democratic Party needs to look beyond the usual suspects in DC to a guy who is already making his move. Governor Gavin Newsom of California.  

Like DeSantis, he is young-ish, nice looking and has a great head of hair. Neither requires plugs or comb-overs. He has run a liberal state as skillfully as DeSantis has run a conservative one, and both candidates would please both the mainstream and the wingnuts in their respective parties. You can add, as a delicious topping to this sundae, Newsom's ex is Kimberly Guilfoyle, the current paramour of Don Jr. I would fully expect Junior's tweets and Facebook posts to be even more drug-addled than usual.  Newsom made a $105,000 TV commercial buy on Fox for the 4th of July weekend to contrast him with DeSantis. It's on. No question.

Each has a skeleton or two in the closet, but as Donald Trump and Bill Clinton have taught us, skeletons only matter on Halloween. I think this is the race two years from now, and if anyone has a better prediction, I'm all ears. And, it has the additional advantage of mercifully preventing any of us having to learn anything more about Hunter.

Roger Gray has toiled at the journalism trade since 1970 and his first radio news job at KTRH in Houston. Over those woefully misspent years, he has worked in radio, TV and written for magazines. He was twice elected President of the Texas Automobile Writers Association and was elected to the Texas Radio Hall of Fame. He covered the first Persian Gulf War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany, Oslo Accords in Israel and peace talks in Ireland. He interviewed writers, actors, politicians and every President from Ford to George W, and none of them remember him.
Now, he is part of the Texas Outlaw Writers, and if this doesn't pan out, the outlaw part will still work as he will indeed resort to robbing banks.