close
close

McFeely: Maybe it will work out the way Burgum always planned – InForum

FARGO — There’s a chance Doug Burgum is smarter than all of us, you know. There’s a chance he plays this just right.

As for the first sentence, “all of us” refers to the writers at Forum Communications Co. Tony Bender, Rob Port, Jim Shaw, Jack Zaleski and myself. Three of us (myself, Shaw, Zaleski) have been dubbed the “Axis of Evil” by a conservative letter writer to The Forum. All five spent a lot of time and energy on the North Dakota governor’s quixotic and sometimes comically lame campaign for the Republican presidential nominee.

We wrote. We poked. We spot. We mock. We snapped. We chuckled. We laughed. It was a self-indulgent dunk fest. Bender would come up with a one-line zinger, and I would be forced to match it. Zaleski condescended his way through 500 words, and Shaw kept pace. Port was what they call in the NBA a “volume shooter,” writing about Burgum’s belly flop several times a week (sometimes several times a day) during the campaign.

Burgum’s cowboy-cosplaying, word-salad, 1%-in-the-polls campaign ended in December, when he withdrew from the race and immediately endorsed former President Donald Trump. He even got to fly on Trump’s plane, like a good boy who ate all his peas!

You could almost hear the satisfied chuckles from some of us as we thought Burgum’s flirtation with national relevance was coming to a modest end.

Or was this just the beginning?

Is it possible that the tech genius billionaire outsmarted five guys sitting at their keyboards and licking Cheetos dust off their fingers?

Because it looks like Burgum is in a pretty good place right now.

Sure, his pride and soul went to Trump for the low price of $4.99, but in terms of achieving blind personal ambition at any cost, it seems Burgum is within reach of his goal. He is a member of Mar-a-Lago’s inner circle and is reportedly being strongly considered to be Trump’s vice presidential pick.

Unless there’s a Kristi Noem-esque incident where his puppy gets shot in the face, Burgum is one of the chosen few who just might be Trump’s right bootblack.

During a cattle call at Mar-a-Lago recently, Trump praised the governor of North Dakota.

“I didn’t know this: he was a supporter of my two campaigns. He is a very rich man. He’s made a lot of money. Over a billion dollars, I hear,” Trump said, according to a tape recording from the campaign. event obtained by Axios.

If Trump were to win — a strong possibility — Burgum would be just a heartbeat away from the presidency, second-in-command to an overweight, unhealthy almost octogenarian.

And we all chuckled at Burgum’s obscure, weak campaign, refusing to criticize Trump.

Who is laughing now?

There’s a chance this is all part of Burgum’s plan. Spending $15 million of his personal fortune to exchange business cards with the TV shows that matter in politics, prostituting himself to be Trump’s surrogate, co-opting MAGA talk about stolen elections, taking every flame of dignity he has left left, crush like the spent stub of a cigarette and, voila, he’s sufficiently impressed by dog-like loyalty and Vichy-like fealty to be one of Trump’s favorite henchmen.

It’s called playing the long(ish) game. Eleven months of being a verbal pincushion to the ink-stained wretches at home in exchange for unimaginable power. Small price to pay.

When Burgum takes the VP oath of office on January 20, 2025, don’t be surprised if he turns to the TV cameras and delivers a crotch chop. It would be aimed at North Dakota with a message for five column writers: “I was playing 5D chess when you were playing Chutes and Ladders, you fools. Eat my boys!”

Mike McFeely

Mike McFeely is a columnist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He started working for The Forum in the 1980s while studying journalism at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He has worked full-time at The Forum since 1990, minus a six-year hiatus when he hosted a local radio talk show.