Not crazy, not still fuming over loss—too dim for a coup, Trump cooks up his final, starring role
Forget the grandiose pundit confetti that Trump’s failure to concede endangers our democracy—or that his mockeries of the law ever jeopardized the outcome. Blatantly out of reach was finagling a second term. This election finale will go down as routine, as polls predicted, despite whatever faux outrage spews forth by sore losers with now badly tarnished reputations. We only hope the Trumplican Party pays an appropriately high penalty.
The farcical Trump legal feints are/were charades to transform a seeming reversal into his last, perhaps preferred hurrah. On stage the Trump soap opera depicts the greatest fraud in history—and with only one star. Need we remind other writers only four lode stars exist in Trump sky: control, status, adoration and cash flow? They are all neatly served by legalistic scams that had to fail to produce the desired effect: an acceptable exit to a Trump dead end. Poor Trump the epic victim is not responsible for his disgrace or departure, and now as always he can blame everyone else.
Dissing an election is neither illegal nor insane, and well beyond Guardian columnist Arwa Mahdawi’s oversimplification, “Trump’s end-of-term execution spree is nothing more a perverse power trip.” There is method in the perversity—all about Trump’s career finale. The legal frauds are the logical extensions of Trump’s personality and career—serving up the Pretend President in Exile. Trump the grifter quickly reinvents himself, with an exit from four frustrating White House years, where the spoiled brat often felt handcuffed, betrayed or blocked.
Control freak uber alles
One must almost admire how this post-election may work its magic. The crook grabs the phony moral high ground—rooked out of office, then unravels a tax-free cash con whose totals already exceeded expectations. Why spend his own (ill-gotten) gains when money is there for the tweeting—no muss, no fuss, a quick quarter of a billion bucks? That makes the Fraudster-in-chief far more qualified to be perpetual Pretend President than any other job he’s had in years.
Already on his way to cult sainthood, this Pretend President doesn’t have to campaign, glad-hand, read boring reports, suffer endless meetings, compromise, or ever hear, “No, you can’t do that.” Think of all the job benefits without working, perfect for lazy Donald. He can watch all the TV he wants, until his eyes pop out. Every week he manufactures another outlandish hoax, stands resolute with true Americans against satanic, baby-munching forces—and the money flows in. Pretend President Trump simply rings up his no-cost PAC ATM, sustains his expensive life-style—and gets to boast of his own unique status symbol—the only legitimate president in exile.
Hell, being a Pretend President fits Trump’s horrendous personality flaws much better than the real thing. And without any term limits or Constitutional restraints—what a deal! The Pretender gets to pontificate every day to sustain high PR value, dishes out ten crazy tweets a day, and like a king grants or refuses his golden endorsements. Is this not Trump heaven? Okay, there will be litigation and tax penalties. But supporters won’t abandon the ship, and nasty enemies will never go away. His mantra is as simple as it is preposterous: he is the legitimate president, and he will anything to make America great again. Expect a new twitter name, like @RealPresident or @RookedPresident.
As rational as Trump does
Think of the early demonic blueprint, braced for all prospects. He declares the election rigged if he loses, then upon losing screams bloody murder, blackmails his terrified party, and defrauds his base. Evil and smart. Win or lose, he declares victory, then spends his life whining about his unforgivable, lost legitimacy. Had Trump won, that proves the election honest and he stays on. Sure, he hates to lose, will do anything to save face, and loves the high status job perks. But he hates hard work and much prefers total control over his life, especially in charge of which connivers he rewards and which he punishes.
Being a Pretend President in Exile is the perfect job for Trump. He can concoct or second wacko conspiracy theories, insult recalcitrant Republicans and crooked Democrats alike, denigrate whatever judges or courts decide against him, collude with and pacify Putin, and rail against China and Iran. On display, the same belligerent ignorance, with many fewer downsides. And he never has to read a report or a book.
I don’t see another run for president, fearful he’d be shellacked again—and the party will object. He can’t win any higher prize—and, despite his lawlessness, may have lost millions. He knows too little about history to fret about about his legacy. He can still boost his creepy children and fabricate enough PR shenanigans to secure the public eye—and forever be the most aggrieved president in history. What’s not to like for an embittered Trump?
That’s what epic hustlers do: they invent scenarios by which they survive, maybe profit, whatever happens. And if the Scammer in Chief gets his tithe from his suckered base, he can stay an exile in high style and avoid his worst fear: spending his own money to keep the charade going. After all, being a Pretend President, like a pretend martyr or a pretend billionaire, is forever. And after death, the estate sustains the farce with a moving hagiography—all about what America tragically, irretrievably lost by letting the crooks steal a rigged election.
Survival of the fittest grifter
In short, Trump keeps the con going, avoids being stamped a “loser” (since he really won), and collects an endless store of grievances to last a generation. Nothing stops him from talking up 2024, nor boosting the new rightwing normal: non-stop electioneering, pulsing with hoaxes, corruption, grievances, and divisive schemes—unified by belligerent lying. What Trump started four years ago, the politics of malicious corruption will culminate in the grand finale of the abused Pretend President. Anything is better than oblivion and/or losing billions over tax frauds or lost popularity.
Yes, that means our new normal is having two presidents, a weathered veteran and a self-anointed, undisciplined pretender. For the left, Trump has always been a pretend, stunningly misfit president without a clue what the job demands, how to do it well, and how to adapt to disaster. He is and will always a T.V. reality buffoon who now won’t have a writer or director to control his worse affliction: the corrosive delusion only he counts and the world is made to do his biding. Even shrewd grifters can shipwreck.
The Trump pandemic has been an excruciating, soon-to-end political and cultural demolition for the country and the world. Next up, Trump casts himself as writer, director, producer and star. We shall see whether Trump does any better as Pretend President than his worst president ever-horror show. In the end, this loser/winner con artist may have found a role for which he can’t be fired—but with unknowable pluses and no few minuses. The Trump charade is far from over.