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OPINION: Why Republicans should ditch Trump

by CHUCK MALLOY
| February 16, 2024 1:00 AM

I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready for the Republican presidential race to end. So, I say good for Nikki Haley.

Handing it to Donald Trump now is like crowning a World Series champion after the first inning of the first game, or deciding a winner of a basketball game based on the team that gets the first basket. Yeah, Donald Trump has a big lead in almost all the polls. But considering the baggage that surrounds him, Republicans ought to give more serious thought about handing him the nomination — or making the Idaho presidential caucus looking like a Russian election.

Enough with this talk about “poor” Donald Trump being ambushed by the justice department. His egregious call to the Georgia secretary of state, demanding the vote totals be changed to give him the win, should be enough to declare him unfit for the presidency. His actions across the board on Jan. 6 were worse than anything Richard Nixon ever did.

Yet, it seems, an overwhelming number of Republicans think this guy should return as the leader of the free world. I don’t get it.

I do get why people don’t want President Biden. He’s too old. The recent special counsel’s report, describing the president as an elderly man with a poor memory, is a preview of what we’d get in second Biden term.

But for heaven’s sake, can’t Republicans move beyond Donald Trump?

The immediate alternative is Haley, and her big pitch is to spare us from making a choice between two 80-year-old men (Trump isn’t quite 80, but he’s old). And she talks about uniting the country, which is a unique, and refreshing, concept in this era of trash-and-burn politics. At least some polls show she’d beat Biden by a convincing margin, yet so many Republicans would prefer to have the worst person ever to serve as president.

I don’t get it.

Here’s a sneak peek at what we’ll get with a second Trump presidency:

• We’ll get four more years of re-living the 2020 election, and talk about how that election was rigged.

• Four years of re-living the Jan. 6 insurrection of the Capitol, and talk about how those trolls are the “true” American patriots. If you’re in an office pool, you might guess the date in which Trump will pardon those misfits.

• At least some of those four years will be focused on court proceedings against Trump — criminal and civil. If you’re playing a drinking game, you can take a swig every time he declares court actions as a “witch hunt.”

• At some time in those four years, Trump will do something to warrant another impeachment or two. Chaos follows him around.

• We’ll have four more years of Trump jokes in the late-night talk shows — jokes that stopped being funny a long time ago.

The only one standing in the way of all of that, at least at the moment, is Haley — this lady with a warm smile from South Carolina. But don’t be fooled by that down-home appearance. Haley was the star in Republican debates against crusty old men (and one carnival barker), and reduced Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to a pile of sawdust in the final knockout blow. 

Yes, she is tough.

And she’s saying the right things about Trump and the race in general. Critics say that Haley isn’t “conservative enough,” but her ideological credentials were not questioned when she served as governor and U.N. ambassador under Trump. She just recognizes the need to find some common ground with the 70 million people who don’t vote Republican in the next election. 

Maybe, just maybe, a Haley administration can bring some focus on what’s good for the country — and not as much on what’s good for the power brokers in the White House and Congress.

Haley gives the best chance of having a president who is more interested in building bridges than building empires.

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Chuck Malloy, a longtime Idaho journalist and Silver Valley native, is a columnist with Idaho Politics Weekly. He may be reached at ctmalloy@outlook.com.