REPUBLICANS ARE BECOMING POST-TRUMP! NO, WAIT — THEY’RE TRUMPIER THAN EVER!

I saw these two items back to back at the aggregation site Memeorandum:

So which is it? Is Trumpism fading away, or is it rampant?

The Peter Nicholas article in The Atlantic is the usual mainstream-media wishful thinking:
If Donald Trump tries to run for president again, one of his former campaign advisers has a plan to dissuade him. Anticipating that Trump may not know who Adlai Stevenson was or that he lost two straight presidential elections in the 1950s, this ex-adviser figures he or someone else might need to explain the man’s unhappy fate. They’ll remind Trump that if he were beaten in 2024, he would join Stevenson as one of history’s serial losers. “I think that would resonate,” said this person, who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to talk more freely. “Trump hates losers.”
Oh, please. It won't resonate, for one simple reason: Trump really doesn't believe he lost in 2020. There are cynical spreaders of the Big Lie (most of the stars of Fox News), and then there are true believers. Trump is a true believer. Remember, he has no idea how things work. He has no idea that the vast 2020 election conspiracies he believes in couldn't possibly have happened. Remember also that Trump has been a believer in Norman Vincent Peale's Power of Positive Thinking for most of his life. Even if he has doubts that he actually won in 2020, he also believes that if he consistently asserts that he won, then it will be true that he did win. It's the way he felt about COVID -- if he kept saying it would disappear, it would. (And if he loses in 2024, he'll believe he won again.)

Nicholas cites the usual very short list of signs that Trump might be fading:
Glenn Youngkin’s recent victory in the Virginia governor’s race demonstrated that a Republican candidate could win in a battleground state without yoking himself to Trump.
(Yes, though Youngkin won after securing Trump's endorsement and appearing at an "election integrity" rally at Liberty University, and after a Trump Lite campaign of racial demagoguery.)
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, now making the rounds to promote a new book that counters Trump’s claim that he won the 2020 election, signaled that he might run for the 2024 GOP nomination whether or not Trump enters the race.
(Republican voters don't like Christie any more than Democrats or independents do -- he got 1% of the vote in a 2024 primary poll conducted in October. However, Christie and the mainstream media should really get a room.)
A poll last month offered encouraging news for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in New Hampshire, the state that traditionally holds the first primary contest of the presidential-election season. Though Trump was the first choice among likely Republican voters, DeSantis’s favorability rating had climbed to 62 percent, eight points higher than Trump’s.
(Notice that Nicholas won't tell you the numbers in the poll of the race. That's because Trump shellacs DeSantis, 43% to 18%. No one else is in double digits. And that's New Hampshire, the most moderate state among the early contests.)

On the other hand, there's something odd about the Washington Post story that claims MAGA loyalists are gaining in influence: They're fans of Trump, but their influence seems to be increasing without reference to Trump.
The show of force from Donald Trump’s staunchest congressional allies began almost immediately after 13 House Republicans voted this month in favor of a massive infrastructure bill that handed President Biden one of the biggest victories of his tenure.

“Traitor Republicans,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) declared in a series of tweets where she posted their office phone numbers after vowing that all those in her party who “hand over their voting card to Nancy Pelosi to pass Biden’s Communist takeover of America will feel the anger of the GOP voter.”

Others chimed in. Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) promised to “primary the hell” out of any Republican who voted for the measure.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) tweeted it was “Time to name names and hold these fake republicans accountable.” And, this past week, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) told a pro-Trump podcast that there was never a situation during the infrastructure debate in which Republicans should work with Democrats: “They were going to win it all, or we were going to win it all.”

The continuing turmoil in the House GOP conference over how and whether to punish members who back anything supported by Democrats shows how an emboldened group of far-right House members is gaining influence over the Republican Party in Congress. These representatives are positioning themselves to further purify the House GOP conference as a branch of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement.
Is that really what's going on? Is this really about the MAGA movement? These folks don't seem to be talking about Trump at all. They're just taking the usual GOP message -- Democrats are evil and cooperating with them is treason -- to its logical extreme. This and their defense of Paul Gosar for posting his kill-AOC anime video are certainly Trump-compatible -- Trump agrees on both counts -- but these members f Congress are really building on both Trumpism and non-Trump-specific right-wing extremism. They'll be the Republican vanguard if Trump runs in 2024 or if he doesn't.

So to sum up:
* Trump is probably running.

* Even if he doesn't run, Trump fans are exerting their influence in Congress, but their extremism doesn't require Trump (although he's all in favor of it).

* Chris Christie will flo0p in the GOP primaries unless the Morning Joe greenroom gets to hold one.