Column

Lengel: Michigan voters can help return Trump to his rightful place in history – a punchline

September 01, 2022, 11:00 PM by  Allan Lengel

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Donald Trump, Tudor Dixon and Matt DePerno

In 2011, at the White House correspondents’ dinner in Washington, businessman and reality-show star Donald Trump sat stone-faced in the audience as comic Seth Meyers delivered one insult after another:  

“Trump has been saying that he will run for president as a Republican, which is surprising since I just assumed he was running as a joke.” Then he took a shot at his hairdo: “Donald Trump often appears on Fox, which is ironic because a fox often appears on Donald Trump's head.”

A lot has happened since then, to put it mildly. For one, the ex-president has carried on like a seventh-grade bully and sore loser. (No offense to seventh graders or bullies.)

In less than 10 weeks, Michigan voters have an opportunity to help diminish Trump’s political standing in this country and return him to his rightful status: A punchline in a late-night monologue. Of course, he could end up in an orange jumpsuit in the next year or two if the feds or officials in New York or Georgia have their way. But Michiganders, both Democrats and Republicans, can’t wait that long.

Trump backs some awful candidates in Michigan, as well as in other states -- Senate hopeful Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, who is flushing away what little dignity he has left after pimping weight-loss supplements on TV and selling his soul to Oprah. Then there’s Herschel Walker, who acts as if he must have had too many helmet-to-helmet collisions in the NFL. And that’s being kind.

In Michigan, the reality show president has endorsed people worthy of being on reality shows, not in public service.   

Let’s start with Matthew DePerno, running for attorney general against Democrat Dana Nessel. She’s beatable. Even some Democrats aren’t totally sold on her. But luckily for her, DePerno is what Trump might normally call a “LOSER,” if he weren’t endorsing him. What someone once said of Margaret Thatcher applies to Nessel: She is fortunate in her enemies. DePerno will be much easier to beat than former GOP House Speaker Tom Leonard, who vied for that spot. 

DePerno is Trump’s dream come true: He led the charge in Michigan to promote the Big Lie, so much so that Nessel asked for a special prosecutor to investigate DePerno and others, who she charges took voting machines and disassembled them, perhaps looking for Hugo Chavez’ fingerprints.

As Trump might say on an infomercial shilling Trump Steaks: “But that’s not all.”

DePerno was fired from a law firm in 2005 after colleagues claimed he padded client billings. That indeed makes him qualified to represent Trump, but not the folks of Michigan.

On Wednesday, Nessel issued a statement about DePerno saying he "has a propensity to engage in name-calling, and in utilizing racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, and misogynistic rhetoric and imagery.

“Such hateful language and the constant spread of disinformation inevitably leads to the rise in hate crimes and escalation in violence against government officials, and undermines the electorate’s faith in our system of elections and our democracy as a whole."

The day before, DePerno referred to her as a “drunk,” yet another reference to the well-covered tailgate party last fall (Tailgategate?).

He then went on to insist she engage in three debates, writing: “We hope Dana can pull herself away from her school sponsored groomer queen theatrics to speak with us about the issues.”

Simply put, he's Trump’s Mini-Me.

Best GOP Has

Another fortunate Republican opponent is gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon, who has never held political office, backs Trump’s election lies and advocates for no exceptions for abortions. Sadly, she may be the best the Republicans had to offer this year.

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Trump and Dixon

That’s good news for Whitmer, who is a formidable candidate but not unbeatable. She’s had some missteps; we all remember her waffling over her infamous private-jet visit to Florida during the pandemic. She stretched a three-day story into a full month before finally coming clean.

But to her credit, she did what was right, at least at the time, in terms of reacting to the pandemic. And she’s been a strong advocate for women’s reproductive rights.

Whatever the case, with Dixon as an opponent, and Trump possibly campaigning for her, Democrats must feel they're at Disney World where dreams do come true.  

And the pool of bad Trump candidates doesn’t end there. Worst of all may be Secretary of State hopeful Kristina Karamo, who is all about the theft of the 2020 election. If that were the end of it, it would be bad enough, but she’s also on the record, and recently, as believing that premarital sex and yoga are both demonic. (In that case, call me the devil.)

She’s one of several secretary of state candidates Trump hopes to install around the country before the 2024 election. If he decides to run, he wants to make sure he has enough stooges --certainly more than just Larry, Moe and Curly --  in place to steal the election. 

Part of Karamo’s fame comes from her claim in 2020 that as an election challenger at the TCF Center, she witnessed voting fraud while absentee ballots were being counted. Loyalty is a far more valuable trait to Trump than the truth. In fact, the truth to Trump is what kryptonite was to Superman.

The upside is that she won’t win. Incumbent Jocelyn Benson will likely crush her.

But that’s still not all.

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John Gibbs is nominated over Peter Meijer

In West Michigan, Trump-backed candidate John Gibbs beat sensible incumbent Peter Meijer in the GOP primary for the 3rd Congressional District. Meijer committed the sin of voting to impeach Trump last year.

Gibbs, a former Trump lackey in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, parrots all of the big guy’s nonsense about the stolen 2020 election, insisting the results were mathematically impossible. I may not have majored in mathematics at Trump University, but I see many mathematical possibilities Gibbs obviously can't. He’s also publicly promoted what Axios characterized as outlandish right-wing conspiracy theories.

In 2016, Gibbs defended a Twitter account under the name “Ricky Vaughn” that regularly tweeted Nazi-era anti-Semitic propaganda, promoting claims that Jews control the world, according to CNN. Now, if you can’t beat a guy who defends Nazi propoganda, you’re just not trying hard enough. 

Democrat Hillary Scholten has a good chance of beating Gibbs, but it’s not a sure thing.

What’s important this November is that Michiganders vote against Trump’s candidates. It’s time to send a message: Trump should no longer be taken seriously.

If it finally, finally gets through to Republicans that Trump is a greater liability than asset, they might kick him to the curb and he'll be returned to his rightful place in an audience, sitting stone-faced as a humorless adult who can’t laugh at himself, but is no threat to our democracy and civility.



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