So many questions, so little time.
Will Donald Trump ever concede?
Not until the Twelfth of Never (with apologies to Johnny Mathis). Trump has been saying for months that he couldn’t lose unless the election was rigged. So, he lost, and now he’s searching for the rigged parts. He’d have a better chance of finding the WMDs in Iraq.
Why won’t he concede?
Is this a real question? If you don’t know the answer, google “raging narcissist.” Let’s just say Trump hates being called a loser. He’d prefer to reserve that label — as well as suckers — for those members of the military who have given their lives for their country.
Why are the same — meaning nearly all — Republicans who enabled Trump in Congress either encouraging Trump to fight through the courts, where he has no chance of winning, or just not saying nothing? Are they still afraid of Trump? Are they still afraid of Trump’s base? Or is it all about Mitch McConnell — supposed FOB (friend of Biden) — failing, once again, to do the right thing?
As of this writing, George W. Bush and four Republicans senators have publicly congratulated Joe Biden. The rest are scared, to varying degrees, of Trump and his Twitter feed. There are lessons here. One could be entitled “Whatever Happened to Jeff Sessions?” As I wrote the other day, Trump may have been defeated, but Trumpism — along with nearly 71 million votes — isn’t going anywhere. And McConnell knows it.
Do you expect more Republicans to step forward?
Not unless Trump steps off. OK, maybe a few. At some point, everyone save Trump and Don Jr. and Eric will have to concede that there is no actual evidence of vote rigging. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: EVERYONE ALREADY KNOWS THERE’S NO EVIDENCE. Meanwhile, I saw this line somewhere: Republicans are told to stand back and stand by.
In a Washington Post story, an unnamed top Republican official is quoted as saying: “What is the downside for humoring him for this little bit of time? No one seriously thinks the results will change. He went golfing this weekend. It’s not like he’s plotting how to prevent Joe Biden from taking power on Jan. 20. He’s tweeting about filing some lawsuits, those lawsuits will fail, then he’ll tweet some more about how the election was stolen, and then he’ll leave.”
What are the downsides? What in the wide, wide world of unnamed sources is he/she talking about? So long as the Biden transition team is denied access to the workings of the government, they’d come in cold next Jan. 20, with no information on whatever the world’s bad guys are doing, with no information on plans to disseminate a COVID vaccine if we’re lucky enough to have the Pfizer vaccine work, with no information from the many areas that are required for a smooth transition. Is that downside enough for you? Meanwhile, Emily Murphy, a Trump appointee, is the administrator of the General Services Administration and gets to decide when the transition teams begin a transfer of power, with the funding and security clearance that goes with it. Generally, except for the triple-overtime Bush v. Gore campaign, this is a no-brainer. Of course, generally, Donald Trump is not the incumbent.
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What about Cory Gardner? He’s the third most bipartisan, soon to be former senator. What does he have to lose by calling BS on Trump’s fraudulent claims and, in a third-most-bipartisan way, note that it’s too dangerous not to have the transition move forward?
Presumably, Gardner, who is ever cautious, is bunkering down in an undisclosed location, trying to figure out what his next move is. At 46, he’s still young by political standards. But politically, his party in Colorado is a disaster. And if he chose to run against either Michael Bennet or Jared Polis in 2022, a loss would put an end to his career. I wouldn’t be surprised if he took a few years off to make some money while he’s still in demand and then get back in the game. In the meantime, he’d have to figure out a way to stay relevant. It’s not like the CO GOP has a deep bench. Anyone seeing Lauren Boebert running for the Senate? And if he does run again — and he will — he has to find a way to brand himself a centrist without also offending the base. You can see the problem. It’s the same problem he had this year when he lost by nine points, which is — according to my research, which I wouldn’t swear by — the biggest loss by a Colorado incumbent senator since Gary Hart beat Peter Dominick by 18 points in 1974.
Why is Trump suddenly firing everyone? How many pardons will he hand out? And will he pardon himself?
You need a scorecard for this one. He fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper and will probably fire FBI Director Robert Wray and maybe Dr. Tony Fauci, because he can. The pardoning will be the more interesting part. That comes when he’s actually ready to give up the White House. He’ll almost certainly break pardoning records, given all the crooks he has on his team. He’ll almost certainly pardon himself and his family for all federal crimes he has ever committed. Is that legal? Let’s just say he appointed three Supreme Court justices in the hope they’d say it’s legal. Fortunately for America, Trump can’t pardon himself, or anyone else, for state crimes. And if the Southern District of New York is sidelined, the city of New York and the state of New York, just as two examples where court cases against Trump are already in motion, will take up the slack.
What else can Trump do?
One thing, according to the New York Times, is that Trump has formed something called a leadership political action committee to raise money to contribute to Trump-favored campaigns and also to pay for his own travel, polling and consultants. It’s just a reminder that Trump intends to be a political player, unlike any other modern president. Of course, he’s unlike any other modern president in dozens of ways. This will just be one more. And it will allow him to keep up the rumors that he’ll run again in 2024, when he’ll be the same age Joe Biden will be when he takes office in January. Of course, if it’s not Trump running, it could be Don Jr. or Ivanka.
What should Biden and the Democrats do — go to the wall against Trump or just ignore him?
My theory is that ignoring Trump, while all but impossible as president, should become somewhat easier even if Trump tries to set up a virtual presidency in exile. Biden is trying to ignore Trump’s petty refusal to begin the transition, having already set up his own task force — with no relatives on it — to work on the pandemic, which has hit us in force with a third wave. What Biden also did was make a presidential-like speech in which he explained the foolishness of failing to wear a mask as a political statement. Good luck with that. Even if there’s a vaccine coming soon, it will be many months before most people have access to it. And because the transition is held up, so will the distribution of the vaccine be held up. Meanwhile, Biden — and the country — appear to have caught a break from Trump’s 6-3 conservative Supreme Court, which is apparently unwilling to overturn the Affordable Care Act. That was probably the Republicans’ last chance.
The only good thing about Trump refusing to go anywhere is the bonus for SNL, late night comics, newspaper (and web site) columnists, and, apparently, Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate who just barely lost and is now given credit for helping to swing Georgia into Biden’s column. While appearing on Late Show With Stephen Colbert, he asked her about those think pieces questioning whether Democrats really won the election. “Yeah, we really won,” she said, “There is an orange menace of putrescence that will no longer be able to occupy the White House.” That’s a line coming to a T-shirt near you.
Mike Littwin has been a columnist for too many years to count. He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
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