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Can Trump still pack the house?
Bob Franken.jpg
Bob Franken is an Emmy winning, syndicated columnist. - photo by File photo

How could it be that even though reservations have been open since mid-June and it’s nearly six months away, sales for Donald Trump’s Florida and Texas appearances in mid-December have been blah. You’d think they would have been sold out by now, particularly since Trump will be paired with ... wait for it ... Bill O’Reilly!

The reaction has been underwhelming, even though the Trumpster promises that the four-appearance conversation tour will be “fun, fun, fun for everyone who attends.” O’Reilly adds, “It will not be boring.”

Tickets run between $100 each for the cheap seats and $300 for the not so cheap ones. There is a package available for $8,500 -- the VIP Meet and Greet combo -- which includes pictures and a 45-minute reception. It’s tempting.

Apparently, not tempting for enough people. A promoter at one of the four venues says that sales should have been higher. “It hasn’t 

been [selling] like crazy.” This would have been unheard of in the good old days, like a few months ago. The pace of sales and the state of mind of those scooping up all the rally tickets could have been counted on to be frenzied, particularly for a Donald Trump-Bill O’Reilly extravaganza. Is this a case of out of sight out of mind?

Perhaps the erosion has imperceptibly started, taking its baby steps. To be sure, the Donald Trump magic is still there in Republican circles. Among GOP diehards, defying Trump would seem to be displaying a death wish. Democrat Joe Biden may be president, but clearly the issue in the midterm elections will continue to be the Donald Trump presidency and post-presidency. Is Trump -- and O’Reilly, for that matter -- an icon whose tarnish is beginning to show? Will their speeches be overtaken by subsequent events, like the anniversary of the insurrection at the Capitol? Will the mob invasion that trashed the Capitol last Jan. 6 influence balloting for control of Congress on Nov. 8 of next year?

And incidentally, what will President Biden’s record add to the mix? Will the anti-vaxxer resistance to proven remedies stymie efforts to defeat COVID once and for all? The list of day-to-day crises that can change minds is long: political issues like Afghanistan, voter suppression, infrastructure and dealing with climate change, to say nothing of inflation and the dreaded TBA, to be announced.

Perhaps booking tickets to the Trump-O’Reilly jubilee is still on someone’s to-do list, along with planning for the next confrontation at the U.S. Capitol building.

In other words, it’s too early, in July, to draw conclusions about what will be going on in December. For so many of us, crippling snow will replace crippling heat. But the political climate will have changed very little. 

White supremacists will be accusing liberals of being communists, and vice versa. Everybody will blame Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for misinformation. Donald Trump will sue and be sued. Joe Biden will go on being terminally boring, and us pundits will debate about whether that’s a good or bad thing. Coincidentally, those who prepare year-enders will be asking that same question, although this year will probably inherently be no match for last year’s ongoing worldwide pandemic.

And will we still be trying to answer the question: Are Donald Trump and Bill O’Reilly appearances really worth going to, or are they a colossal waste of time?

Bob Franken is an Emmy Award-winning reporter who covered Washington for more than 20 years with CNN.

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