Charlie Baker Is Not the Next Trump

There is a lot of talk about who the Republicans might field as their candidate in the 2024 presidential race. Aside from some discussion of a Trump offspring (Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump), many conservative pundits think that the Republican Party would be best served by taking a break from the Trump brand and thus denying the liberal media of all-too-easy targets for charges of nepotism and undeserved privilege.

In addition to the wildly successful policy achievements of his presidency -- which have resulted in unequivocal, undeniable economic advances across all demographic groups, U.S. energy independence, the rebuilding of the military, the appointment of hundreds of conservative federal judges, greatly improving our border security and much more -- President Trump’s enduring legacy for true conservatives is likely to be this:

He has shown, once and for all, that Republicans don’t have to be punching bags for the liberal media, afraid, unwilling and unable to fight back, too timid to call out media lies and distortions and holding back their criticisms of the MSM under the pathetically misguided notion that if they (the Republicans) “play nice,” then the liberal media will treat them well and cast them in a reasonable light.

President Trump’s greatest strength right from the start was his recognition that the liberal media will never treat Republicans fairly or honestly, will never cut them a break, will never give them credit for any accomplishment. As a local political analyst here in Massachusetts said, “If President Trump cured cancer tomorrow, the NY Times’ headline would be, ‘Trump Callously Ignores Diabetes Sufferers.’” President Trump introduced the phrase "fake news" into the popular lexicon, and it has stuck. He unabashedly points to the media at his rallies and says, “There they are, folks, the Fake News. They’ll never tell you the truth. They’ll never show these big crowds.” His supporters go wild. Finally -- a president who speaks for them.

And thanks to his example and success, Republicans are finally showing some backbone and standing up. Matt Gaetz, Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan, Elise Stefanik and many others are fighting back effectively, with pithy, soundbite-worthy public appearances and direct, challenging questions and comments when they appear on political TV shows.

Still, the House and Senate are not usually the spawning grounds of successful presidential candidates. A governorship is looked upon as the ideal launching pad for a presidential run, because a state governor is essentially running a small country: There are budgets, educational and health issues, disaster response, employment, taxes and the overall economy, energy and environmental concerns, public safety and “defense” in the form of police and National Guard, etc. Being a successful governor is  perfect training on how to run and manage the larger country as a whole.

Looking around the country, are there any Republican governors who are successful, have earned widespread respect from the other side of the aisle, are popular with voters across all party lines, who project an appealing personal aura with attractive looks and a commanding presence? Who seems both accessible and “reasonable,” and thus has immediate appeal to the all-important swing voter?

It would seem that that preceding description was a carbon copy of the qualifications of the current Massachusetts governor, Republican Charlie Baker. Tall (6-ft 3-inch), with an authoritative yet inviting demeanor, wildly popular with the entire electorate (In fact, he is among America’s Most Popular Governors, which is especially notable since Massachusetts is such a blue state), handsome, old enough to be taken seriously (63) but young enough not to be out of touch, to observers outside of Massachusetts, Baker seems like the dream candidate, the prototypically perfect Republican presidential aspirant.  A sure-fire landslide 2024 winner.

If ever the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover” applied, it’s here. On the national stage, Baker would be a Republican catastrophe of historic proportions. Conservative Massachusetts Republicans regard Baker as a classic RINO, Republican Lite, someone who consistently comes up short when faced with a defining moment. Consider these examples:

  • He’s a #NeverTrumper who has boasted about not voting for Trump in 2016 and not supporting him again in 2020.
  • He buys in totally to the liberal fantasy of climate change and is willing to raise the MA gas tax to fund his wishful Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI), which penalizes drivers by an outrageous 17¢ per gallon in order to perform maintenance upkeep on the state’s roads and bridges and pay for climate activities.
  • Most amusingly, well-known Boston talk show host Howie Carr has coined the nickname “Tall Deval,” in reference to Baker being nothing more than a taller version of Massachusetts’ previous governor, the extremely liberal Democrat Deval Patrick.

Perhaps the next Republican presidential candidate will, in fact, be one of the “new breed” Republican congressional members: Articulate, unapologetic when espousing conservative principles, unintimidated by liberal media strong-arm tactics, attractive, socially aware and personable. Perhaps it will be someone along the lines of a Nikki Haley -- accomplished, experienced, well-recognized and likewise articulate, unapologetic and uncowed. (Note that for the purposes of this discussion, I am completely discounting the possibility of VP Mike Pence seeking the nomination, since there seems to be a universal unspoken recognition that while Pence has been a loyal foot soldier in Trump’s army, he clearly lacks the charisma and panache to be a viable Presidential contender on his own.)

Conventional political thinking may look at Charlie Baker as a possibility for all the reasons cited previously and also because Massachusetts’ unique combination of northeastern culture and sophistication, a strong educational infrastructure, combination of high-tech/medical industry in the eastern part of the state and very prominent farming/fishing employment in the western and coastal areas seems to groom politicians who think they are particularly qualified for national office. Massachusetts politicians, be they governors or national representatives, see themselves as quite experienced in dealing with an electorate with an unusually wide spectrum of needs, demands, educational/professional backgrounds and religious/ethnic diversity. Perhaps that’s why this small state has produced such a large number of Presidential hopefuls since 1960 -- JFK (1960), RFK (1968), Teddy Kennedy (1980), Michael Dukakis (1988), John Kerry (2004), Mitt Romney (2012), Elizabeth Warren (2020) and Deval Patrick (2020).

However, except for JFK (RFK can be marked “incomplete”), all of them have been abject failures as presidential candidates. Baker may seem like a worthy candidate to Republicans outside the state who don’t see him on a daily basis, but he would be the conservative disaster to end all disasters.

There is a lot of talk about who the Republicans might field as their candidate in the 2024 presidential race. Aside from some discussion of a Trump offspring (Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump), many conservative pundits think that the Republican Party would be best served by taking a break from the Trump brand and thus denying the liberal media of all-too-easy targets for charges of nepotism and undeserved privilege.

In addition to the wildly successful policy achievements of his presidency -- which have resulted in unequivocal, undeniable economic advances across all demographic groups, U.S. energy independence, the rebuilding of the military, the appointment of hundreds of conservative federal judges, greatly improving our border security and much more -- President Trump’s enduring legacy for true conservatives is likely to be this:

He has shown, once and for all, that Republicans don’t have to be punching bags for the liberal media, afraid, unwilling and unable to fight back, too timid to call out media lies and distortions and holding back their criticisms of the MSM under the pathetically misguided notion that if they (the Republicans) “play nice,” then the liberal media will treat them well and cast them in a reasonable light.

President Trump’s greatest strength right from the start was his recognition that the liberal media will never treat Republicans fairly or honestly, will never cut them a break, will never give them credit for any accomplishment. As a local political analyst here in Massachusetts said, “If President Trump cured cancer tomorrow, the NY Times’ headline would be, ‘Trump Callously Ignores Diabetes Sufferers.’” President Trump introduced the phrase "fake news" into the popular lexicon, and it has stuck. He unabashedly points to the media at his rallies and says, “There they are, folks, the Fake News. They’ll never tell you the truth. They’ll never show these big crowds.” His supporters go wild. Finally -- a president who speaks for them.

And thanks to his example and success, Republicans are finally showing some backbone and standing up. Matt Gaetz, Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan, Elise Stefanik and many others are fighting back effectively, with pithy, soundbite-worthy public appearances and direct, challenging questions and comments when they appear on political TV shows.

Still, the House and Senate are not usually the spawning grounds of successful presidential candidates. A governorship is looked upon as the ideal launching pad for a presidential run, because a state governor is essentially running a small country: There are budgets, educational and health issues, disaster response, employment, taxes and the overall economy, energy and environmental concerns, public safety and “defense” in the form of police and National Guard, etc. Being a successful governor is  perfect training on how to run and manage the larger country as a whole.

Looking around the country, are there any Republican governors who are successful, have earned widespread respect from the other side of the aisle, are popular with voters across all party lines, who project an appealing personal aura with attractive looks and a commanding presence? Who seems both accessible and “reasonable,” and thus has immediate appeal to the all-important swing voter?

It would seem that that preceding description was a carbon copy of the qualifications of the current Massachusetts governor, Republican Charlie Baker. Tall (6-ft 3-inch), with an authoritative yet inviting demeanor, wildly popular with the entire electorate (In fact, he is among America’s Most Popular Governors, which is especially notable since Massachusetts is such a blue state), handsome, old enough to be taken seriously (63) but young enough not to be out of touch, to observers outside of Massachusetts, Baker seems like the dream candidate, the prototypically perfect Republican presidential aspirant.  A sure-fire landslide 2024 winner.

If ever the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover” applied, it’s here. On the national stage, Baker would be a Republican catastrophe of historic proportions. Conservative Massachusetts Republicans regard Baker as a classic RINO, Republican Lite, someone who consistently comes up short when faced with a defining moment. Consider these examples:

  • He’s a #NeverTrumper who has boasted about not voting for Trump in 2016 and not supporting him again in 2020.
  • He buys in totally to the liberal fantasy of climate change and is willing to raise the MA gas tax to fund his wishful Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI), which penalizes drivers by an outrageous 17¢ per gallon in order to perform maintenance upkeep on the state’s roads and bridges and pay for climate activities.
  • Most amusingly, well-known Boston talk show host Howie Carr has coined the nickname “Tall Deval,” in reference to Baker being nothing more than a taller version of Massachusetts’ previous governor, the extremely liberal Democrat Deval Patrick.

Perhaps the next Republican presidential candidate will, in fact, be one of the “new breed” Republican congressional members: Articulate, unapologetic when espousing conservative principles, unintimidated by liberal media strong-arm tactics, attractive, socially aware and personable. Perhaps it will be someone along the lines of a Nikki Haley -- accomplished, experienced, well-recognized and likewise articulate, unapologetic and uncowed. (Note that for the purposes of this discussion, I am completely discounting the possibility of VP Mike Pence seeking the nomination, since there seems to be a universal unspoken recognition that while Pence has been a loyal foot soldier in Trump’s army, he clearly lacks the charisma and panache to be a viable Presidential contender on his own.)

Conventional political thinking may look at Charlie Baker as a possibility for all the reasons cited previously and also because Massachusetts’ unique combination of northeastern culture and sophistication, a strong educational infrastructure, combination of high-tech/medical industry in the eastern part of the state and very prominent farming/fishing employment in the western and coastal areas seems to groom politicians who think they are particularly qualified for national office. Massachusetts politicians, be they governors or national representatives, see themselves as quite experienced in dealing with an electorate with an unusually wide spectrum of needs, demands, educational/professional backgrounds and religious/ethnic diversity. Perhaps that’s why this small state has produced such a large number of Presidential hopefuls since 1960 -- JFK (1960), RFK (1968), Teddy Kennedy (1980), Michael Dukakis (1988), John Kerry (2004), Mitt Romney (2012), Elizabeth Warren (2020) and Deval Patrick (2020).

However, except for JFK (RFK can be marked “incomplete”), all of them have been abject failures as presidential candidates. Baker may seem like a worthy candidate to Republicans outside the state who don’t see him on a daily basis, but he would be the conservative disaster to end all disasters.