The nation has had a sustained immersion course in the public behaviors of the incumbent president; of course, he has been in the consciousness of others for much longer than that: notably contractors, lenders, tenants, students at good ol’ Trump U. (‘the Fightin’ Grifters’) and others. From bone spurs to birtherism to super-spreader state rallies, he has been nothing if not consistent.*
He has shown himself to be a Party of One: devoid of a governing political philosophy, thoroughly devoted to any unprincipled tactics to secure immediate personal gratification and political gain, cruel, terrible at strategy, profligate in economics, disdainful of expertise and an absolute master of both messaging to his base and gaming the system (whew). He is Narcissus, on steroids.
Those who think him a dolt have not been paying attention. Anyone who is still surprised or outraged is Charlie Brown to Lucy’s football. He tweets and speaks at a middle school level as a canny matter of marketing, not incapacity. He has more in common with preening televangelists than with your high school class clown.
He has spent his career and untold $millions staying one-step ahead of retribution, or even being held to account. And it almost worked, again.
So, as always, he is acting out this current scene with a bravura performance of self-pity, promotion and profiteering. As always, his aggrieved, sulking defiance of this republic’s democratic traditions and decency arises out of self-interest and money. And as always, the national interests, and everything else, be damned.
It’s instructive how he goes about it. Any candidate has a perfect right to a recount in a close-ish race. Just ask - knock yourself out. But how did he ask? In a series of incendiary tantrum demands - a broadside, blunderbuss attack on that most fundamental of democratic institutions – the voting process. ‘It’s rigged’ – and ‘they’ did it. Evidence? He don’t need no stinkin’ evidence – a rumor here, dark innuendo there and butt-hurt social media mavens are off-and-running in a rabid lather. He’s a victim – it ain’t fair, dark forces of Dems done it, but he’ll keep on keepin’-on. Yeah.
To what end? I do not believe he plans a coup** – see ‘terrible at strategy,’ above. If he had been capable of planning any such project, we might have Covid under control and a different electoral outcome. He might even have a wall. He can’t do it.
No, I believe it’s for several reasons – he gets to feel the addictive roar and heat of the crowd as he raises a ton of (sym)pathetic money – the majority of which can be turned to his personal purposes. He gets to try and hobble his hated successor. He can thumb his nose once more at polite (read: ‘politically correct’) society, he can pick a fight with Fox News – his competitor if he seeks to assume the Rush Limbaugh mantle. He might even be planning the Biggliest and Best Counter-inaugural festivities and send-off, Ever.
Whatever it is, it’s better than what comes next.
2021 seems unlikely to be a good one for him. There are banksters and other creditors camping-out at Trump Tower, with lawyers better than his own. Prosecutors are poring over piles of misdeeds, state and federal. While he may trip the Watergate two-step as to the latter, he cannot be excused the former. ‘Singsing-by-spring’ won’t happen, but his fees will be sending many, many lawyers’ offspring to the expensive colleges of their choosing.
They would be wise to get paid in-advance.
*that’s a big part of the reason I stopped regularly scratching-out this blog. Same story, next verse, subject to the same haranguing comments from that small cadre of compadres. Boring. Who knows - there may be some fresh ideas to kick around, coming soon.
** As my good friend recently mused, in sadness: "Five years ago, who'd have thought we'd be having conversations about coups and peacetful transfers of power?" No one.