In my 1980s early adulthood spent with the US Army in Europe, I had the chance to go to Spain now and then.
When not trying to attract the attentions of gorgeous Spanish women and getting drunk, both activities were often simultaneous, I attended a couple of bullfights. I did this because I thought Hemingway would approve and even then I fancied myself an aspiring writer.
Like politics, bloodsports are not for the squeamish. But also like politics, there is a grace to the dance that can eventually bring down the bull. In that process the picador strikes at the bull and weakens him and then the matador comes in for the kill.
Well, forty years later as a political writer living in Annapolis, Maryland, I find myself watching the same bloodsport and dance in regards to the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. For word came down to this state capital, at least to the cognoscenti, earlier this week that our popular governor is running for the aforementioned nomination.
Larry Hogan, I’m betting, sees himself as the picador to Trump’s bull. And what better description of Trump than a raging bull?
Strong, obstinate, aggressive, limiting himself to his querencia, Trump carries his own China shop with him. Remember how he gored wannabe matadors like Jeb Bush in 2016? And Hillary? He hoisted her on his sharp horns and flung her here and there until she was carried out of the ring. But, it’s not 2016 anymore.
Trump was a great candidate for that time. There was a populist surge in the West after numerous years of what was perceived by some as elitist rule going back to Bush the Elder. He was a product of the era, not the man who started or completely defined the saga. The country has moved on since. Not necessarily for the better, but definitely to another place.
His minions linger with political knives to the throat of the Republican Party. Larry Hogan will attempt to end that hostage situation.
Knowing he can’t win the nomination because the Trumpsters have veto power, Hogan the picador likely hopes to wound Trump enough in Iowa and New Hampshire that it brings a matador like DeSantis or Tim Scott into the ring. Gene McCarthy pulled the same move in New Hampshire in 1968 and shoved incumbent president Lyndon Johnson out of the race. What does Hogan get out of it?
He and Trump are not pals. So he gets the political delight of sticking it to an adversary. Eventually he secures a Cabinet post in a DeSantis administration. I’m thinking Transportation.
Trump and his devotees hopefully could live with DeSantis as the nominee as long as, like Glenn Youngkin’s campaign in Virginia in 2021, Trump was not completely disavowed. Trump, as can be the case in a bullfight, leaves the ring with honor. Everybody wins, especially America.