Has Donald Trump Lost His Killer Instinct?

AP Photo/Ben Gray

To the extent that Donald Trump’s profile had faded the last year, mostly by his own choice for not doing much media, it’s risen again over the last week. That was largely driven by a major interview with The Daily Wire conducted by Candace Owens which has produced several viral clips.

But while Trump ruffled some of his supporters’ feathers by giving a full-throated endorsement of not just the vaccines, but the booster shot as well, I didn’t find his statements objectionable. People have different opinions on the necessity of COVID-19 vaccinations for people with varying risk profiles, and I think that’s fine. You won’t find me pushing vaccines for healthy 20-year-olds because I believe the data shows it to be unnecessary, but if you are an obese 55-year-old, yeah, you should probably go get vaccinated.

Trump also came out strongly against vaccine mandates, and I believe that’s the most important issue at hand. If someone wants to get vaccinated, I’ve got no issues with that. But under no circumstances should people be forced to do so in order to live their lives. That’s never been more true than in light of the current reality that everyone spreads COVID-19 and that so-called “vaccine passports” are doing nothing to stop record infection levels in places like New York.

With all that out of the way, you might be asking what’s with the headline of this article? It actually has nothing to do with the Owens interview that’s garnered so much attention. Rather, it’s something Trump said on Tuesday while on Fox News that caught my eye.

The setup for those comments, which we’ll get to in a moment, began with Joe Biden’s most recent lie-filled COVID-19 speech in which he once again falsely trashed the unvaccinated and completely misconstrued the Omicron data coming out of South Africa.

Regardless, here’s what Biden had to say about Trump, or at least Trump’s administration per The Hill.

“Thanks to the prior administration and our scientific community, America is one of the first countries to get the vaccine,” Biden said from the White House, referring to the Trump administration’s vaccine effort referred to as Operation Warp Speed.

“Thanks to my administration, the hard work of Americans, we let — our rollout made America among the world leaders in getting shots in arms,” Biden continued.

Biden didn’t even have the tact to actually mention Trump by name, but no doubt, his reference to the prior administration is unmistakable. Still, I think it’s fairly obvious why Biden threw Trump a little credit this week after spending the last year ruthlessly trashing the prior administration as essentially murdering Americans and not accomplishing anything on COVID.

With infections skyrocketing in blue states, the current president needs to spread the blame around, and by bringing Trump’s name back into the conversation, he’s trying to remind everyone that he inherited the pandemic. It’s incredibly transparent, in my view. Further, Biden’s comment only came after Trump announced he had gotten a booster shot. As The Hill article mentions, Jen Psaki acknowledged that they only praised Trump because he said what they felt he needed to say.

Yet, instead of recognizing the game being played, Trump actually took Biden’s passing mention as a compliment, saying that it’s “tough to be overly critical now” of the current president.

Trump, in an interview with Fox News the same evening, said he was both “surprised” and “appreciative” of the president’s acknowledgment, adding it is difficult to criticize Biden after receiving recognition.

“It is a little tough to be overly critical now because he just thanked us for the vaccine and thanked me for what I did,” Trump reportedly said. “You know, that’s a first — so it is very tough for me to be overly critical now.”

The 45th president said that he believes Biden’s remarks “were a terrific thing” that will “make a lot of people happy.”

“I think he did something very good,” Trump said. “You know, it has to be a process of healing in this country, and that will help a lot.”

I’ll be kind here and assume that Trump means only in regards to COVID-19. But even if that’s true, I find it to be extremely weak sauce. There is so much to be critical of in regards to Biden’s handling of the pandemic. The attempts at a national mandate should draw eternal scorn, but even past that, there are the long-running testing failures, the lack of development of therapeutics, the disgusting rhetoric used toward the unvaccinated, and the dishonest suppression of data surrounding natural immunity. I could keep going, but you get the point.

Further, let’s remember that Democrats are currently trying to throw Donald Trump in jail via the January 6th committee, an illegitimate farce fully supported by Joe Biden. Yet, Biden says one mildly nice thing about Trump, not even mentioning him by name, and suddenly the former president finds it tough to levy criticism? Perhaps I’m just nuts, but I’d suggest not playing nice with such people.

But this has always been Trump’s weak point. He’s emotionally dependent on the faint praise of his enemies. More importantly, he’s also malleable in the face of such faint praise. That doesn’t mean his presidency wasn’t mostly a success, with his handling of COVID and his refusal to fire key figures like Anthony Fauci being the starkest failures. What it does mean is that Republicans should take stock going into 2024 of who truly possesses the killer instinct needed to take down the Democrat Party. Is it still Donald Trump? I think that’s an open question.