GIVEN events across the pond these past days, only the rash and foolhardy would bet against Donald Trump being re-elected as US president. It might pain me to say that but there’s simply no getting away from the fact that Trump is on a roll.

His acquittal in the impeachment trial by the US Senate and the Iowa caucus debacle that added to the air of indecision bedevilling the Democratic Party were a godsend for the most controversial president America has ever experienced.

From the very start nothing, of course, has ever been normal about Trump’s term in the White House. While only the third president to be impeached and acquitted in US history he now has the dubious distinction of being the first to stand for re-election despite such a tarnishing process.

Such a stigma matters nothing to Trump. Notoriety is his political life’s blood, his raison d’etre in the bear pit of high office. Most other politicians do their damnedest to steer clear of scandal and disrepute, but Trump embraces them before subverting each fully re-armed for his own ends.

And so it will be in this post-acquittal period as the race to the White House looms and the campaigning gloves come off. Even without this subversive armoury at his disposal, Trump enters this bitter contest from a position of comparative strength.

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For the stark fact remains that, impeachment aside, nothing much has changed with regard to his political fortunes. Sure, his approval rating isn’t great, but at no time has it gone up or down meaningfully during the impeachment process.

For a president who never cracks 50% approval in polls, the path to re-election is arguably as plausible now – perhaps even more so – than it’s ever been. For a start, the power of incumbency is not to be sniffed at.

It certainly worked in favour of all three presidents most of us remember in recent times, Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton. Incumbents usually lose when the economy is weak or they face ideological opposition from within their party. None of these are true for Trump whose total control of the Republican Party is virtually unprecedented.

Then there is that other enormous campaigning weapon at Trump’s disposal: cash, and lots of it. Right now, the election kitty sits at some $83 million in hand, and the Republican National Committee has $61m in the bank compared to $8m for the Democratic National Committee.

Just watch how Trump uses this to bludgeon the Democratic nominee before he or she can replenish resources after a long nomination fight, one that’s already draining Democrat resources and causing them no end of problems.

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Not that the Democrats are doing themselves any strategic or campaigning favours right now. With barely nine months to go before the election, many Democrats know they are staring defeat in the face this year, just as they did in 2016, if they don’t find a way to resolve the ideological war that still splits the party. The political predator that Trump is already senses this.

So watch, too, how he will now drive the news cycle to exploit this weakness while flagging up his own “obvious strengths”.

Love him or loathe him, he’s undeniably good at this even if it so often simply relies on lies.

“Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth,” is a saying attributed to Nazi minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels and if anyone ever took that message to heart and made it a mainstay of political malpractice then it’s Donald Trump. The early signs of this in his pre-election warm up were there for all to see during his State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Yes, the US economy might not be in bad shape right now, but listening to Trump you would think this was all his doing.

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Sure, unemployment in the US is at its lowest point in 60 years and wages are going up fast, although not as fast as many economists would like. Sure, the stock market has hit record highs, albeit mainly benefitting the wealthiest 10% of Americans who own 84% of stocks.

But good as this news might be to some, Trump is not responsible, given that most of these economic gains were set in train during the Obama administration.

Yes, Trump might be on a roll right now but his acquittal in the impeachment trial and emboldened state of mind will most likely cost those already vulnerable dear, not to mention American democracy itself.

Citing comparisons with the Watergate scandal, Adam Schiff, the House impeachment manager who led the case against Trump said the president’s acquittal was tantamount to a “normalisation of lawlessness”.

Just like Richard Nixon’s infamous defence during Watergate this effectively means: “When the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”

Having got away with strong-arming Ukraine to investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden, will Trump now see this as a green light to disregard traditional political norms and even core democratic values?

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Who’s to say that Trump will not threaten to withhold foreign aid from other nations if they refuse to investigate the eventual Democratic nominee?

Is it not cause for great concern too that post-acquittal, those spineless Republicans in Congress have just left America and the wider world with a US president who believes he is essentially above the law? This is all scary stuff and if Trump is true to form not least in the heat of election battle, he won’t hesitate to again throw the rule book out the White House window and damn the consequences.

In October, during a game in the US baseball championship the World Series, Trump paid for a 30-second updated version of an earlier political advertisement that includes a montage about the president’s record on the economy and immigration, then highlights the raid in Syria that killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It’s a telling insight into the Trump view of his record.

“He’s no Mr Nice Guy,” intones the advertisement’s narrator. “But sometimes it takes Donald Trump to change Washington,” he goes on to declare.

Changing Washington is something Trump has already done. The worrying question now, though, is just how much further he is prepared to go.