America is now Donald Trump country

His rivals share his view that the United States is dying, but none match his ability to combine fury and humour

Tim Stanley

24 August 2023 •

Pro-Trump Rally

Presidential debates used to be boring. That was the point; to show that you had the right temperament and the facts at your fingertips. Then along came Donald Trump, who growled “wrong” into the microphone and said his opponents sounded like a girl. Sometimes he didn’t show up at all. On Wednesday night, when the also-rans gathered on Fox News to debate the economy and Ukraine, he opted to appear on conservative pundit Tucker Carlson’s Twitter show instead. 

They discussed who killed Jeffrey Epstein. Last time I checked, 164 million had watched it – a triumph for Tucker, Trump and the New Media.

The Republicans are totally Donald’s party now. The candidates on Fox were battling either to be the anti-Trump or the Trump proxy; both involve becoming Trump, which starts with calling names. Do you want to vote for a truth-telling patriot like me, asked 38-year-old entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy – or a donor puppet like these chumps? You, sir, are a rookie! said Mike Pence. You sound like ChatGPT! observed the gargantuan Chris Christie. Ramaswamy is certainly irritating, the way accomplished young men often are, and raised eyebrows by publishing a video of himself, pre-debate, playing tennis with his shirt off. How is Christie supposed to top that? Sumo wrestling?

The rumour mill says that Ramaswamy was desperate to become famous and considered starting a podcast, until he was told running for president would be a lot easier. Now he is nudging ahead even of Florida governor Ron DeSantis – who confuses shouting for having personality – standing on a faux-Trump platform of believing climate change is fake, defunding welfare scroungers and quitting Ukraine. Ramaswamy is the diamanté of Right-wing politics.

The real thing, meanwhile, was sparkling on Twitter. Critics will say Trump chose an easy ride. Host Carlson was sacked from Fox after peddling nonsense about the 2020 election, so shares his grudge against the network (reserving particular ire for anchor Chris Wallace, a respected TV veteran who Tucker called a “b—– little man”). Tucker specialises in conspiracy by insinuation. He never quite comes out with it but asks loaded questions, such as “are you worried that they are going to try to kill you?”

“They”, whoever they are, are “savage animals”, said The Donald. But if Ramaswamy is taking notes on the kind of trash talk that wins primaries, he must understand that, as well as being brutal, Trump is also very funny. The interview could be repackaged as a Netflix comedy special. There were bits about Kamala Harris (“She speaks in rhymes”) and the unreliability of electric cars (“The happiest moment in an electric car is the first 10 minutes”). A Seinfeld-esque skit, too, about Joe Biden at the beach. “He’s worse mentally than he is physically, and physically he’s no triathlete … He looks like he’s walking on toothpicks.” “Skinny legs,” said Tucker. “He can’t walk through the sand!”

If only Joan Rivers had run against Trump, rather than Hillary Clinton. Their ratings would have eclipsed the Moon landing.

Back at the Republican debate, Senator Tim Scott reminded us that he had a single mother, DeSantis that he was in the army and Nikki Haley that she was a woman. Of all of them, Pence comes closest to the traditional image of a presidential candidate, folksy and robotic, to the point that one imagines that, if you put a coin in him, he’d recite the Gettysburg Address. 

Yet in a rare departure from the preprogrammed script, Mike put his finger on the generational divide in conservatism. Ramaswamy announced that it was no longer “morning in America”, that we have entered a “dark moment” and a cultural “civil war”. No, said Pence, I won’t have that: “You are equating the American people with the failed government in Washington DC!”

The old Reaganite line was that the country was good but the government bad, that conservatives could unleash the potential of America with tax cuts. But the post-Trump view, marinated on social media, is that America is actually unwell, possibly dying, and requires something closer to shock therapy to save it. 

Ramaswamy, who unquestionably won this sideshow, argued that the choice is between Pence’s incremental reform and his own “revolution”. That promise of demolition is what Trump voters want, too; that’s why The Donald is 40 points ahead in the polls. But should the shadowy “they” put him in jail, Ramaswamy will be happy to take his place.

On Twitter, Trump segued into a poetic lecture on the building of the Panama Canal, where the Americans lost thousands of men to mosquitos: “vicious” animals, he said, as though he’d waged a personal war against them his whole life. The Trump hyperbole-amplifier is turned perpetually up to 11, such that he can show as much righteous anger towards an insect as he does Kim Jong Un. 

North Korea is “not big on athletes”, he said. That’ll be the famine, deadpanned Tucker – and, God help me, I laughed. If politics must be horrible, let it at least be entertaining. I like some light with my shade.



  1. Ramaswamy has a venomous hatred of Ukraine. He’s also a lying bastard.

    On Zelensky:

    “I would just say that there are open questions about his treatment of religious minorities, including but not limited to Jews in Ukraine, that I think should be among the reasons we should stop short of holding him out as some sort of hero….”

    Jewish Telegraphic Agency:
    “Ramaswamy is not the only Republican to criticize U.S. support for Ukraine, a stance that Trump and DeSantis have also questioned. He told Jewish Insider that he sees “protecting Israel” as one of the United States’ “far higher priorities.”

    “He has floated ending U.S. aid to Israel.
    In June, while campaigning in New Hampshire, Ramaswamy suggested that he would be open to ending aid to Israel as “part of a broader disengagement with the Middle East.” He later walked back those comments. But last week, he told actor and podcaster Russell Brand that he does, in fact, want to end U.S. aid to Israel in 2028, the year when the current U.S. commitment to provide $3.8 billion annually to Israel expires.”

    The fact that Ramaswamy gives interviews to the vile putlerite conspiracy theorist Brand is indicative of his toxic character.

    “And I find it offensive that we have professional politicians on this stage that will make a pilgrimage to Kyiv to their pope Zelensky without doing the same thing for people in Maui, or the south side of Chicago, or Kensington….”

    Ramaswamy’s hatred of Zelensky is borderline anti-Semitic.

    Although he’s anti-Israel, he still thinks helping Israel is more important than helping Ukraine.

    He’s a confused arsehole who could not be trusted to run a hot dog stand.

    “Vivek Ramaswamy has hinted he would run on a joint ticket with Donald Trump if he does not win the Republican nomination.”

    It looks like the GOP is heading for a Trump-Ramaswamy ticket. Either would be lethal for Ukraine. Together? Off the scale.
    If Nikki Haley can’t head these two off, then only Biden can help Ukraine.

    The writer of this piece thinks it’s funny. Well it’s not. It’s absolutely horrible.

    The Trump-Carlson interview picked up an incredible 164 million views. If only half of them vote for Trump, he’s got it sewn up.

    Stanley refers to “the gargantuan Chris Christie.” He follows that with : “Ramaswamy is certainly irritating, the way accomplished young men often are, and raised eyebrows by publishing a video of himself, pre-debate, playing tennis with his shirt off. How is Christie supposed to top that? Sumo wrestling?”

    How is it ok to fat-shame Christie? If a female candidate was a chubster, could a journalist get away with “gargantuan” and “sumo wrestling” cracks?

Enter comments here: