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Ruben Navarrette: Fueled by envy, Trump unleashes friendly fire on fellow Republicans

From the commentary: Cartoonist Dick Wright draws on Donald Trump's attacks on other Republicans.

Cartoonist Dick Wright draws on Donald Trump's attacks on other Republicans.
Cartoonist Dick Wright draws on Donald Trump's attacks on other Republicans.
Dick Wright
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SAN DIEGO — Brace yourself, America. Former president Donald Trump is bringing crazy back. As if we were running low. We're not.

From the commentary: From all the reporting I've done about the Latino vote over the past three decades, along with the experience I've had for nearly 40 years as a Latino voter, there are a handful of factors that determine whether Latinos — who tend to register Democratic by 2 to 1— are at least open to voting for a Republican.
From the commentary: The poor guy. Biden always sings the same song. He is convinced that he's doing all the right things, and he can't understand why he is not getting credit. So, he reasons, it must be because the messaging isn't working. The American people just don't know everything he's doing. Biden thinks his problem is communicating. It's not. It's competency.
From the commentary: Who says Republicans and Democrats can't cooperate? When it comes to offending Latinos, the parties inadvertently come to each other's aid by saying or doing something boneheaded just as the other is floundering.
From the commentary: Of course, it's not a coincidence. It's white supremacy. And, as we have now been reminded, it has found a home with liberals and conservatives alike.

Like a downsized worker who can't accept being laid off, the former president wants to win his old job in 2024.

On Tuesday, Trump did what everyone expected him to do when he announced a third bid for the presidency. And, almost immediately, much of his own party recoiled in terror.

Before the announcement, a group of CNN reporters interviewed a couple dozen Republicans in both the Senate and House and found that "very few were eager to embrace a 2024 run [by Trump] — instead pointing to their hope that another candidate will emerge or that the field will be big enough so voters can choose someone else who could appeal to middle-of-the-road voters."

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The concerns about Trump were what you would expect from sober and reasonable people who approach politics thoughtfully — which is why it was so shocking to hear them coming from Republicans! The lawmakers said that another White House bid by Trump could damage the GOP by bringing division and drama.

He also brings his own supply of chaos. The fact that Trump had so much control over picking which Republicans would run for Senate ultimately allowed Democrats to retain control of the chamber.

Given that the midterm elections brought heartbreaking losses in the governor's race in Arizona and the Senate races in Nevada and Pennsylvania, more Republicans are waking up to the realization that Trump is willing to destroy the GOP in order to lead it. He has only one cause he cares about: himself. 'Twas always thus.

But Republicans couldn't see it in 2016, or in 2020, because they were too busy enjoying the spectacle of Trump attacking the liberal media, taunting Democrats and undermining left-wing special interests.

Well, guess what? Trump 3.0 promises to be a lot less fun for Republicans. That's because these days the caustic bully reserves his most vicious blows for the group he feels most threatened by: fellow Republicans.

Maybe you're thinking this isn't news. After all, in 2016, Trump ridiculed Republican opponents. Remember "Low Energy Jeb" and "Little Marco" and "Lyin' Ted"? But his 2024 arsenal of insults is shaping up to be next-level. His jealousy is red hot, and it seems to be triggered by Republican governors — well, two in particular.

Just a few days before the midterm elections, Trump did himself a lot of harm with the GOP base by launching gratuitous attacks on the party's new golden boy: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. With his degrees from Yale and Harvard, military service, legislative experience in Congress and executive experience as governor, DeSantis is known in Republican corners of the Sunshine State as "The Résumé." But in an election, he's more of wrecking ball - as he showed by winning reelection and walloping his Democratic opponent, Charlie Crist, by nearly 20 points.

Republicans are high on DeSantis, which puts the governor high on Trump's hit list. And as we know by now, when Trump sets his sights on an opponent, the idea isn't just to defeat but to demolish.

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For a while, it looked as if DeSantis was trying to be like Trump. Well, Trump apparently didn't see it that way. It's obvious that what bugs him about DeSantis is that the GOP's rising star is, from his vantage point, too self-righteous and too independent. He doesn't take orders from Trump, which is unacceptable to the Tyrant of Mar-a-Lago.

Hence, Trump's early nickname for one of his likely opponents for the 2024 GOP nomination: "Ron DeSanctimonious." After the governor's impressive victory, the New York Post declared him "DeFUTURE." This gaslit Trump, who issued a statement dissing DeSantis as an "average REPUBLICAN Governor," albeit one "with great Public Relations."

But Trump had not yet begun to defame. In setting his sights on Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Trump managed to unleash his trademark racism, not against Mexicans but against a White male.

From the commentary:
From the commentary: Perhaps the ultimate point is that Pompeo’s attack on Weingarten and teachers must do just that. Pompeo’s demagogic words must bring together all the sane patriots who still call themselves Republicans. They must unite to condemn his message — and tell Americans we must work with our teachers to help them build the infrastructure that will be America’s ultimate bridge to tomorrow.
From the commentary: Ocasio-Cortez has a long record of pushing primary challenges to Democrats deemed insufficiently radical. These attempts are almost always unsuccessful though draining to the incumbent.
From the commentary: This fetish with identity started as a tic of the left, which tends to believe that voters want candidates who represent certain groups, as opposed to certain ideas. What it should have learned by now is that Republicans are perfectly capable of running their own candidates of color, witness their support in the Georgia senate race of the unintelligible Herschel Walker, a Black football player.
From the commentary: Still, as Biden quietly marked his 80th birthday on Nov. 13, the basic Democratic dilemma remained: Will it be best for the party — and the country — to renominate the nation’s oldest president, even if the alternative is chaos?
From the commentary: We have become hyphenated Americans with too many clinging to their native land in language and culture. No nation can be sustained in its character without controlling who is allowed to enter. Other nations have far more restrictive immigration laws and paths to citizenship than ours.
From the commentary: The question becomes: How much further can we keep expanding the number of domestic birds that are grown and slaughtered? How much longer can this vicious cycle continue before it explodes?
From the commentary: Americans want better results. They want a government that’s efficient and effective and improves their lives. They expect and deserve elected leaders who will fix the damn roads.
From the commentary: Those kinds of cross-party relationships don’t exist in today’s hyper-partisan world, so McCarthy will be pretty much flying solo.
From the commentary: It's a safe assumption that fear of crime is what flipped several suburban New York congressional districts to Republicans. The fears may not match the reality, but elected officials should not add fuel to them with careless talk. Kathy Hochul was lucky this time.

"Young Kin (now that's an interesting take. Sounds Chinese, doesn't it?) in Virginia couldn't have won without me," Trump wrote on Truth Social, the sketchy social media platform he helped launch.

That bizarre broadside shocked a lot of conservatives, some of whom accused the former president of engaging in — gasp! — racial demagoguery.

No. Say it isn't so.

This commentary is Ruben Navarrette's opinion. He can be reached at ruben@wctrib.com.

© 2022, The Washington Post Writers Group

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