If Donald Trump had been a conventional loser, no one would be talking about him by now. Having conceded the presidential race to Joe Biden, once the Democratic nominee’s Electoral College lead had become insurmountable, the incumbent Oval Office holder would have immediately ceased to be relevant. The media would have moved on.
You just knew Mr. Trump was never going to let that happen. After four years of sucking up all the oxygen in the 24/7 war room of U.S. politics, you knew he would hog the spotlight until his last gasp in office. The man is an attention addict, incapable of contemplating surrendering the stage to someone he considers a lesser star. Spare a thought for the withdrawal he must be suffering.
Mr. Trump needs to be weaned off power. He has neither the willpower nor the courage to go cold turkey. A vain and superficial narcissist, he is terrified of becoming a has-been. He has no core identity to anchor him. He only exists to the extent that he is the centre of attention.
Hence, his charges of a “rigged” election must be seen for the desperate plea for help that they are. His sure-to-fail lawsuits alleging massive voter fraud, seeking to invalidate mailed-in ballots on the basis that Republican observers were kept too far away from poll workers, are exactly what you would expect from a litigious New York real estate developer. When all else fails, he sues.
“I just think it’s an embarrassment, quite frankly,” quipped Mr. Biden, who became the president-elect once Pennsylvania moved comfortably into the Democratic column last Saturday. “How can I say this tactfully? I think it will not help the President’s legacy.”
Over-the-top allegations that Mr. Trump is attempting a coup d'état by directing government officials not to co-operate with Mr. Biden’s transition team say more about the vivid imaginations of those who propagate them than about what is really going on. Mr. Trump is executing an attention grab, not a power grab. It would be giving him too much credit to suggest otherwise.
Yes, he can seek to frustrate Mr. Biden’s transition into the Oval Office by denying his successor the traditional courtesies afforded to incoming presidents. But a leader with as much experience and knowledge of government as the 77-year-old former vice-president hardly needs them.
Mr. Biden began receiving classified briefings once he became the Democratic nominee, but they were not as extensive or detailed as the President’s Daily Brief that Mr. Trump gets. Mr. Trump has refused to direct his officials to provide that briefing to the president-elect.
One way or another, however, intelligence officials will ensure that Mr. Biden is kept abreast of national security threats so that he is ready to act, if needed, the moment he is sworn in as president in January. Until then, national security is Mr. Trump’s job.
Mr. Trump will promptly lose his title, and all the powers that go with it, at noon ET on Jan. 20. That is not a matter of debate. The U.S. Constitution says so. His first term expires at that moment and he ceases to be president unless he is sworn into a second one. That will not happen.
Mr. Trump and his enablers in the media and the Republican Party may pretend otherwise. Sufferers of Trump Derangement Syndrome may continue to engage in the histrionics of imagined coups and the subversion of democratic rule. But it is all a show, one in which the media are as complicit as Mr. Trump’s sycophants.
There is an admittedly disturbing caveat to all this in as much as Mr. Trump’s most diehard supporters are not in on the gag. Many of them of truly believe the President’s charges of a stolen election. If Mr. Trump is unwilling to tell them the truth, other Republican leaders must.
Sadly, that is not likely to happen until after run-off elections are held on Jan. 5 for Georgia’s two Senate seats. Republicans need to win only one of them to retain control of the Senate, but they are not leaving anything to chance – even if it means having to kowtow to Mr. Trump.
“We need his voters,” South Dakota GOP Senator John Thune conceded this week, suggesting most Republicans will not say anything to alienate Mr. Trump’s base until the Georgia run-offs are over.
Still, the sun will set on the Trump presidency on Jan. 20. He can try to sow as much confusion as he wants about that inalterable fact, but no one should fall for it. They would only be feeding his habit. And after four years, haven’t we all had enough of that?
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