During the initial months of Donald Trump’s presidency, former Ohio Governor John Kasich made a perceptive, though not entirely novel, observation regarding his former rival for the Republican nomination: “When you back an animal into a corner, it will inevitably strike back, just as a politician backed into a corner will anticipate and retaliate.”
Kasich’s assessment of Trump’s governing style was accurate, and this approach has resurfaced as the former President now contends with mounting and pressing threats from various angles. It appears that luck is not an endless resource. Moreover, a provocatively charged figure can sometimes inflict more harm than a complacent powerhouse.
Trump is currently facing indictment in three distinct criminal cases and is out on bail. A fourth criminal case from Georgia may emerge this week, and the preparations underway in Fulton County suggest that prosecutors in Atlanta are readying for potential chaos. These impending trials could divert Trump’s attention for weeks, if not months, at a critical juncture when he should be cultivating support among voters. Despite his position at the forefront of Republican presidential nominee polls for 2024, the genuine threats to his status as the frontrunner and his personal liberty are substantial enough to send him into a frenzy as he seeks to divert attention elsewhere.
Over the weekend, Trump issued a vehement proclamation on his Truth Social account: “IF YOU TARGET ME, I WILL RETALIATE!” This blatant warning led Justice Department attorneys to request a protective order in the election interference case. This overt threat was part of a series of all-caps ultimatums that harken back to his previous use of the now-defunct Twitter platform. In addition to lamenting that he is the victim of a politically driven prosecution (“THE DEPARTMENT OF INJUSTICE’S ACTIONS AGAINST ME MIRROR THOSE OF THIRD-WORLD COUNTRIES AROUND THE GLOBE.”), Trump berated the U.S. women’s soccer team for their loss in the World Cup, singling out prominent player and Trump critic Megan Rapinoe for a missed shot: “WOKE CULTURE LEADS TO FAILURE. Nice try, Megan, the USA is in decline!!! MAGA.”
While Trump’s online presence has never been characterized by sophisticated, logic-based discourse, there’s a notable shift. For the first time since his entry into the presidential arena in 2015, Trump appears genuinely apprehensive, hinting at the possibility that his luck, while remarkable, is not boundless. His ability to defy conventional political norms has been evident since his initial campaign, during which any other nominee would have succumbed to a series of blunders, controversies, and self-destructive behaviors. Yet, Trump managed to navigate these challenges, akin to riding a blazing dumpster all the way to the White House’s North Lawn.