|One of the vexing oddities of our media saturated age is how the calendar now blurs like never before. During my childhood, for instance, the N.F.L. season lasted from September to January, unofficially culminating with the Super Bowl champion quarterback visiting Mickey Mouse at Disneyland. But with the advent of the Internet, the burgeoning ESPN bundle, the NFL Network, the rise of niche media and blogging, legalized gambling, The Athletic, and now NFL+, the football season isn’t just a 365 day per year affair, it’s also 24/7, owing to the endless content machines voraciously fed by speculation about 40-yard dash times at the pro scouting combine, pre-draft Wonderlic test scores, trade rumors, high school recruiting, and, yes, the actual season. It’s hardly a wonder that Apple and Amazon are bidding over the Sunday Ticket bundle for out-of-market games. The price, as Dylan Byers recently reported, could reach $3 billion per year.
But perhaps the most obvious example is the current presidential election cycle, which used to last a year and change, from Iowa to Inauguration Day, and now essentially comprises an entire term. Part of this, of course, is the uniquely pessimistic nature of modern American politics, where an increasing cohort within each party hates the other as vehemently as a cuckolding spouse, and wants nothing more than to scorch them in the divorce. They also enjoy the participation of many co-conspirators, such as partisan media organizations, lobbyists, and a political industrial complex that courses through our lives with regularity.
Indeed, we haven’t even made it to the midterms, and it’s increasingly clear that the Democrats want a new candidate, Trump is licking his chops, DeSantis is running his own calculations, and a dozen others are making plans. You know you’ve entered a brave new world of always-on political spaghetti-on-the-wall-dom when Glenn Youngkin, the former co-C.E.O. of The Carlyle Group who achieved a surprising victory in the Virginia gubernatorial race nine months ago, is already working with Jeff Roe to find a new lane in 2024 as a post-Pence candidate for the Christian right. It can be exhausting to say the least.
My favorite expert on the endless machinations of the right is my Puck partner Tina Nguyen. As I’ve mentioned once or twice before, Tina is perhaps the most MAGA-certified reporter at work today. She went to Claremont, the Harvard of Goldwater-inflected intellectual thought, and worked for Tucker Carlson at The Daily Caller before turning her journalistic gaze back on this world for Vanity Fair, Politico and, now, Puck. She sees trends in conservatism around distant corners, soothsayer-style. Back in early 2016, Tina had a premonition about the success of the Trump campaign. She’s been right about so much ever since.
Part of the reason is that she does the work. Last weekend, for instance, Tina traveled to Tampa to attend Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit. TP USA has, over the years, become something of a MAGA breeding ground. Nominally, it serves to hoover up high school and college political activists into its grassroots Republican machine. The attitudes and whims of its membership, however, also serve as a far-reaching straw poll for generational views on various candidates. I can assure you that Tina’s idea of a good time isn’t spending a Saturday night in midsummer central Florida, but she was eagerly interested to see whether Gen Zers had cooled on Trump and could be swayed by DeSantis, or vice versa.
In The Kids are All MAGA, Tina delivers a startling assessment, one that shook me when I first read it. Amid a news environment aflutter with stories about Trump fatigue, she reveals how his appeal still lands for a new generation of politically active young people. I had assumed, wrongly, as it turns out, that the manufactured charm and relative youth of DeSantis would carry the day. But indeed, as Tina writes, Trump has truly become a formative political touchstone for a generation, their version of Dick Nixon, a guy who they believe was unfairly punished by his political enemies.
Our Tara Palmeri has reported recently that Trump is eager to announce his candidacy as soon as he can, to get in front of his opponents and run unopposed. Presumably the only thing currently restraining him from announcing his plans is the cognizance that doing so before the midterms will make him politically vulnerable should the Republicans disappoint. But the truth, as Tina revealed from Tampa, is that the guy is already running, whether he says so or not. If you want to know what his campaign could look like, please carve out some time this weekend to read this story. It’s precisely the sort of piece that you can only find at Puck.
Have a great weekend,