The Changing Narrative Regarding Donald Trump

The Changing Narrative Regarding Donald Trump
(L-R) Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and Former President Donald Trump (Giorgio Viera/Angela Weiss/Getty Images)
Roger Kimball

This is a phenomenological, not a prescriptive exercise.

That is, I'm not advocating anyone or anything.

Rather, I want to understand and describe something that's happening or perhaps has already happened.

Something, I might add, that surprises me.

Also, something whose lineaments I'm not sure I quite understand.

It might be something in the nature of a political Gestalt shift, a sudden change in The Narrative that gains strength and adherents the longer it persists.

I wonder, though, whether it's as definitive or as strong as it seems.

Perhaps it's a temporary wrinkle in The Narrative rather than an unalterable change.

What I'm talking about, of course, is the sudden shift in The Narrative regarding Donald Trump.

That shift has a corollary, which is a corresponding shift in The Narrative about Ron DeSantis.

At the end of October, The Narrative was that Trump had the GOP base sewn up.

Everyone liked Ron DeSantis. But no one thought he could challenge The Donald in the 2024 election cycle.

Megyn Kelly's message on “The Rubin Report” a few weeks ago epitomized the prevailing assumption about Trump and DeSantis.

Were Trump to run, Kelly said, he would crush any opponent, including DeSantis.

“You really think the hardcore MAGA is going to abandon Trump for DeSantis?” she asked. “They’re not. ... They like DeSantis. But they don’t think it’s his turn.”

Moreover, she said, Trump’s backers “think DeSantis owes his political career to Trump. ... They would never cross Trump for [DeSantis].”

Is this still the case?

I don't know.

But even before the midterm elections, I noticed cracks and fissures in this façade.

Trump made fun of DeSantis, calling him “DeSanctimonious.”

That set heads shaking and tongues wagging.

Everyone, Trump supporters included, thought it ungracious.

Ungracious it may have been.

It was also entirely Trumpian, as anyone who recalls his past string of nicknames for his political opponents: “Low-Energy Jeb,” “Little Marco,” etc., etc.

It looks as though DeSantis may challenge Trump for the GOP nomination. Trump is getting ready.

But I suspect that Trump’s trumpian ridicule may be playing a minor role in the sudden revulsion against Trump.

A bigger factor has been the outcome of the midterms, in which the prophesied red wave failed to materialize and many of Trump’s favored candidates lost to the mail-in candidates fielded by the Dems.

But I suspect that the most important factor in the newly minted anti-Trump-pro-DeSantis narrative lies elsewhere.

I think it's the product of a carefully orchestrated intervention by powerful media and anti-Trump forces.

Some people think of the Murdoch media empire as being sympathetic to Trump.

It isn't.

But because it's still perceived as conservative or at least GOP-friendly (not the same thing), many people assume that it must also be Trump friendly.

A quick look at the coverage Trump has received on Fox, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, and elsewhere should correct that impression.

Like the establishment wing of the GOP—the Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, Liz Cheney wing—that huge media concession is profoundly unhappy with Trump.

It isn't because of Jan. 6, as is sometimes said, or because of Trump’s prickliness or his ungracious rhetoric.

It's because of his anti-globalist, pro-populist, which means pro-American worker, stance.

Trump represents an existential threat to the globalist paradigm according to which national sovereignty takes a back seat to transnational aspirations.

I suspect that's Trump’s real, unforgivable tort, and it's the reason that Michael Anton may well have been correct when he noted this summer that “The people who really run the United States of America have made it clear that they can’t, and won’t, if they can help it, allow Donald Trump to be president again.”
Anton saw the reality of that expression of political power in ovo.

When he wrote, the polls said that Trump was unchallengeable.

But to the governing consensus, he was impossible.

It took a little while for that reality to make itself felt.

But now it's out in the open.

What will it mean going forward?

We don’t yet know.

DeSantis is flavor of the month. We know he has tremendous appeal in Florida.

How he might play on the national stage is unknown.

Trump has promised a “big announcement” on Tuesday, Nov. 15.

Most observers don't believe he will be advertising Joe Biden’s favorite flavor of ice cream at Trump Tower.

Most people think he will announce his candidacy for president in 2024.

How will that come over?

There are many people who assure us that Trump’s day in the sun is over, that he's yesterday’s news.

I don't know if they're right.

I do remember, though, that many people in 2016 told us that Trump was impossible, that he could never win, that when he did win he could never survive.

For four years, we were told that “bombshells” had been dropped, that “walls were closing in” to hasten Trump’s eclipse.

Maybe this time it's true.


I'm going to wait and see.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Roger Kimball is the editor and publisher of The New Criterion and publisher of Encounter Books. His most recent book is “Where Next? Western Civilization at the Crossroads.”