What if Donald Trump won’t leave the White House? It’s a question many of us have asked, but the Boston Globe’s Beth Teitell did something our soon-to-be-ex-president would never do—she went to some experts and got their practical advice.
These pros included a hostage negotiator, a behavioral economist and a “toddler whisperer.” A dog trainer suggested coaxing him out with some food or a favorite ball. And an animal control officer said that if nothing else works, sprinkling some coyote urine around might do the trick. Which under the circumstances, sounds about right.
Since the presidential election was called for Joe Biden on November 7, we’ve seen Trump behaving in a way that’s a useful microcosm reminding us of what a second Trump administration would have been like: both more of the same horrors and exponentially worse. So bring on the coyotes.
Over these last few months especially, I’ve often thought of something the great Jimmy Breslin wrote about Donald Trump thirty years ago in 1990—back when the would-be property mogul was merely bamboozling and ripping off investors and contractors, not an entire country.
According to Jimmy, “All Trump has to do is stick to the rules on which he was raised by his father in the County of Queens: “Never use your own money. Steal a good idea and say it’s your own. Do anything to get publicity. Remember that everybody can be bought.”
“Never use your own money”—check. These days, Trump, his family and GOP minions have used their constant falsehoods and evidence-free conspiracy theories about the election results to keep milking their supporters for cash. They say it’s to fund their continuing efforts to overturn the vote in the courts, led by America’s Inspector Clouseau, Rudy Giuliani.
Email after email have gone out to the donor lists, demanding money for the “Official Election Defense Fund.” Typical of them is this, allegedly from the president himself: “This is sheer MADNESS! The Fake News is trying to keep these unprecedented stories of VOTER FRAUD quiet, but it’s important for the American People to know the TRUTH.”
In another, he insists, “This is your moment. If we don’t stand up and fight right now, we will lose our county to the Liberal Mob forever.”
This effort takes venality to a new level of vileness. David Corn at Mother Jones notes, “Though they generally ask for small amounts—from $5 to $45—the fine print on the donation page notes that unless you kick in about $8,000, the money goes to Trump’s political operation and the Republican National Committee, not the special fund that pays for the legal challenges Trump has been mounting (and losing) and the recounts he has been requesting. These emails are merely the latest iteration of Trump’s campaign money-grab, as he tries to financially exploit the clown-show coup Giuliani has been running for him.”
The barrage of pleas for dollars—and such events as Wednesday’s bogus “hearing” in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, featuring a phone-in from Trump himself—also serve the purpose of raising doubts about the legitimacy of the results, not only undermining the incoming Biden administration but sowing skepticism about the validity of elections and American democracy. Trump is “exploiting paranoia and fueling division,” David Corn continues. “As an aspiring autocrat who now casts himself as the victim of an evil cabal, he will profit greatly from this email blitz, no matter how many bucks he rakes in.”
Visions of a rematch in 2024 are already dancing in his sugarplum head and he won’t quit stirring his infamous base into paroxysms of paranoia, fleecing them all the way. It’s going to take a long time to restore faith in the republic.
(While we’re at it, and by way of contrast, recall that simultaneous with the shambolic event at Gettysburg—and then Trump’s indefensible pardon of Michael Flynn—President-Elect Biden was delivering a dignified, presidential-style Thanksgiving address. He told all Americans, “I know the country has grown weary of the fight. But we need to remember: We’re at war with the virus, not with one another.” On Thanksgiving Day, Trump had yet another meltdown, rambling about fraud, the Electoral College and his mistreatment by members of the press who fail to show his office respect by—Oh, the horror!—asking questions.)
Next on Jimmy Breslin’s Trump list: “Steal a good idea and say it’s your own”—check. There’s Trump trying to take credit for the terrific progress that’s been made in developing vaccines to fight COVID-19 while simultaneously whining that the drug companies deliberately delayed news of their results until after the election, just to hurt him.
Note, too, that when the Dow Jones broke 30,000 points on Tuesday—because of the vaccine news, relief that the Biden transition had begun and word that the president-elect had chosen former Fed chair Janet Yellen to be Treasury secretary—Trump rushed to the microphones: “That’s a sacred number, 30,000, and nobody thought they’d ever see it,” he bragged. “I just want to congratulate all the people within the administration that worked so hard, and most importantly I want to congratulate the people of our country.” Gee, thanks, but another stimulus check would be much more appreciated.
Meanwhile, this week’s jobless claims climbed to 778,000, and 26 million Americans say they don’t have enough to eat as the fatal pandemic rages more wickedly than ever. The White House seems to have abandoned any remaining pretense of having a solid plan to fight back against it.
Jimmy Breslin’s third Trump rule: “Do anything to get publicity”—check. I think we can all agree that our commander-in-chief thinks more about attention-getting gimmicks and feeding his ego than policy or programs.
Finally, “Everybody can be bought”—check and double-check. Remember that this nightmare of a president was impeached because he tried to bribe the president of Ukraine by withholding nearly $400 million of military aid unless Ukraine handed over dirt on Joe Biden and his son, Hunter—fabricated smears that would help Trump win re-election. He has dangled pardons before those who might have incriminating evidence against him and bribed blocs of voters—additional subsidies for farmers, bogus $200 drug discounts for seniors, promises of new factories to employ blue-collar workers.
Lucky for us, Trump’s rules no longer seem to be working. The country, judges (some appointed by Trump) and almost all election officials of both parties nationwide have failed to succumb to his alternating bouts of wheedling and threats, ignoring his falsehood-laden tweets about the results and his tantrums because he lost and didn’t get what he wanted—a tinpot dictatorship all his own.
Instead, unlike GOP leadership, they have stood up in defense of a fair and accurate count of the ballots and resisted all of Trump’s attempts to bully or coerce. Heroes.
Now he says he will abide by the vote of the Electoral College on December 14 and peacefully step down—if he loses. But in his fevered brain, that remains a big “if.” Just in case, remember the recommendation of that animal control officer up in Boston. The Secret Service should keep handy a coyote or two. We may need them.
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Michael Winship is the Schumann Senior Writing Fellow for Common Dreams. Previously, he was the Emmy Award-winning senior writer for Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com, a past senior writing fellow at the policy and advocacy group Demos, and former president of the Writers Guild of America East. Follow him on Twitter: @MichaelWinship.