Friday, November 13, 2020

Trumpist Contemplates Trump's Rejection By The Voters: "Sometimes You Own The Libs; Sometimes The Libs Own You"



Lame Duck by Nancy Ohanian

Today everyone is writing about how depressed Trump is and how bleak his mood is. Awwwww.... The NY Times reported that Señor Trumpanzee "has spent his days toggling between his White House residence and the Oval Office, watching television coverage about the final weeks of his presidency. His mood is often bleak, advisers say, though he is not raising his voice in anger, despite the impression left by his tweets, which are often in capital letters. But the work of government has been reduced to something of a sideshow for the president." Whew.

The Washington Post's David Nakamura noted that Trump Is In Hiding. He wrote that yesterday, "six American service members were killed in a helicopter crash during a peacekeeping mission in Egypt. Tropical Storm Eta made landfall in North Florida, contributing to severe flooding. The number of Americans infected with the novel coronavirus continued at a record-setting pace, sending the stock market tumbling. At the White House, President Trump spent the day as he has most others this week-- sequestered from public view, tweeting grievances, falsehoods and misinformation about the election results and about Fox News’s coverage of him. Neither he nor his aides briefed reporters on the news of the day or reacted to Democratic leaders who accused Republicans of imperiling the pandemic response by 'refusing to accept reality' over the election results."

In her Times column, The Post-Presidency of a Con Man, Michelle Goldberg took comfort "in signs that the president is preparing for life outside the White House in exactly the way one would expect-- by initiating new grifts. Trump has been sending out frantic fund-raising requests to 'defend the election,' but as the New York Times reports, most of the money is actually going to a PAC, Save America, that 'will be used to underwrite Mr. Trump’s post-presidential activities.' Axios reports that Trump is considering starting a digital media company to undermine Fox News, which he now regards as disloyal. These moves suggest that while Trump may be willing to torch American democracy to salve his wounded ego, at least part of him is getting ready to leave office... But there are reasons to think that when he is finally ejected from the White House, he will become a significantly diminished figure."
Once Trump is no longer president, he is likely to be consumed by lawsuits and criminal investigations. Hundreds of millions of dollars in debt will come due. Lobbyists and foreign dignitaries won’t have much of a reason to patronize Mar-a-Lago or his Washington hotel. Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch could complete the transition from Trump’s enabler to his enemy. And, after four years of cartoonish self-abasement, Republicans with presidential aspirations will have an incentive to help take him down.

“His whole life he’s been involved in a bunch of litigation,” said the superstar liberal attorney Roberta Kaplan. But post-presidency, “I have to assume that, given the amount of civil litigation and potential criminal exposure, it’s going to be at a completely new dimension.”

...It’s too much to expect any sudden exposure of Trump. There will be no cathartic moment when everyone realizes that the emperor was always naked. But the question isn’t whether Trump’s support will evaporate. It’s whether it will erode, especially once he loses the ability to make Republican dreams come true.

Besides, the threats to Trump are not only to his reputation, such as it is. In Bob Woodward’s book Fear, he wrote that Trump’s former lawyer John Dowd implored the president not to testify in Robert Mueller’s probe because he believed him to be an inveterate liar. (Dowd has denied this.) Should Trump face depositions in these civil cases, however, he’ll have no choice about submitting to interviews.

Andrew Weissmann, Mueller’s former deputy, told me he expects Trump to pardon himself for any federal crimes he might have committed. That would mean that even if a Biden Department of Justice wanted to take the extraordinary step of prosecuting a former president, it would also have to litigate the constitutionality of self-pardons, a complicated, time-consuming process.

But he might face state charges that he can’t pardon his way out of. New York State Attorney General Letitia James has a civil investigation into possible financial chicanery by the Trump Organization. Trump is under criminal investigation by Manhattan’s district attorney, Cyrus Vance. While the scope of the probe is unknown, his office’s filings suggest Vance could be looking at tax fraud, insurance fraud and falsification of business records.

The “Manhattan DA’s office is a really good office, and they’ve done a lot of white-collar cases,” said Weissmann. “If they were to prove-- this is now hypothetical-- but if they were to prove tens of millions of dollars in tax fraud or bank fraud, people go to jail for that.”

Let’s say Trump, ever the escape artist, avoids prison, setting himself up as the warlord of MAGA-world at Mar-a-Lago. His post-presidency still won’t be easy. As The Times has reported, he’s personally on the hook for $421 million in debt, most of it coming due in the next four years. If a long fight with the I.R.S. goes against him, he could owe at least $100 million more.

“Mr. Trump still has assets to sell,” The Times reported. “But doing so could take its own toll, both financial and to Mr. Trump’s desire to always be seen as a winner.”

Trump is already trying to profit off his avid base, and he will surely continue. But it’s an open question whether, without the intoxicating aura of presidential power, he can sustain their devotion. There are several examples of once-formidable right-wing leaders reduced to footnotes after leaving office.

As Republican House majority leader, Tom DeLay was frequently described as the most powerful man in Congress. Then, in 2005, he was indicted on a charge of campaign money laundering. Though his 2010 conviction was eventually overturned on appeal, the last time he had any significant public profile was when he appeared on Dancing With the Stars in 2009.

Sarah Palin, too, was once a Republican icon; in many ways she presaged Trump. “Win or Lose, Many See Palin as Future of Party,” said a New York Times headline just before the 2008 election. It quoted right-wing activist Brent Bozell: “Conservatives have been looking for leadership, and she has proved that she can electrify the grass roots like few people have in the last 20 years.”

But since resigning as Alaska’s governor in 2009, Palin has lost her luster. Once a likely presidential prospect, she recently made headlines for wearing a pink and purple bear costume on the Fox reality show The Masked Singer.

Trump is in for years of scandals and humiliations. We will doubtlessly find out more about official misdeeds he tried to keep secret as president. Republicans who hope to succeed him will have reason to start painting him as a loser instead of a savior. He’ll have to devote much of his energy to trying to stay out of prison.

After all that, could he be back in 2024? Of course. Trump is, if nothing else, relentless. But this election was just the latest reminder that he is far from invincible. When he is no longer in office, there will be many more.
One of my favorite of today's Trump woe-is-me tails was a "re-release" of Jane Mayer's Nov. 1 column: Why Trump Can't Afford To Lose. Can you imagine this scene of Trumpanzee despondency the day before the election?
Sensing that time was running out, he had asked his aides to draw up a list of his political options. He wasn’t especially religious, but, as daylight faded outside the rapidly emptying White House, he fell to his knees and prayed out loud, sobbing as he smashed his fist into the carpet. “What have I done?” he said. “What has happened?” When the President noted that the military could make it easy for him by leaving a pistol in a desk drawer, the chief of staff called the President’s doctors and ordered that all sleeping pills and tranquillizers be taken away from him, to insure that he wouldn’t have the means to kill himself.
No? Me either... besides, it was Nixon, not Trump. Still, Mayer notes that "No American President has ever been charged with a criminal offense. But, as Donald Trump fights to hold on to the White House, he and those around him surely know that if he loses... the presumption of immunity that attends the Presidency will vanish. Given that more than a dozen investigations and civil suits involving Trump are currently under way, he could be looking at an endgame even more perilous than the one confronted by Nixon. The Presidential historian Michael Beschloss said of Trump, 'If he loses, you have a situation that’s not dissimilar to that of Nixon when he resigned. Nixon spoke of the cell door clanging shut.' Trump has famously survived one impeachment, two divorces, six bankruptcies, twenty-six accusations of sexual misconduct, and an estimated four thousand lawsuits. Few people have evaded consequences more cunningly. That run of good luck may well end, perhaps brutally, if he loses to Joe Biden."

She notes that the Financial Times estimates that, "in all, about nine hundred million dollars’ worth of Trump’s real-estate debt will come due within the next four years. At the same time, he is locked in a dispute with the Internal Revenue Service over a deduction that he has claimed on his income-tax forms; an adverse ruling could cost him an additional hundred million dollars. To pay off such debts, the President, whose net worth is estimated by Forbes to be two and a half billion dollars, could sell some of his most valuable real-estate assets-- or, as he has in the past, find ways to stiff his creditors. But, according to an analysis by the Washington Post, Trump’s properties-- especially his hotels and resorts-- have been hit hard by the pandemic and the fallout from his divisive political career. 'It’s the office of the Presidency that’s keeping him from prison and the poorhouse,' Timothy Snyder, a history professor at Yale who studies authoritarianism, told me."
Last winter, a Cabinet secretary told me Trump had confided that he couldn’t imagine returning to his former life as a real-estate developer. As the Cabinet secretary recalled, the two men were gliding along in a motorcade, surrounded by throngs of adoring supporters, when Trump remarked, “Isn’t this incredible? After this, I could never return to ordering windows. It would be so boring.”

Throughout the 2020 campaign, Trump’s national poll numbers have lagged behind Biden’s, and two sources who have spoken to the President in the past month described him as being in a foul mood. He has testily insisted that he won both Presidential debates, contrary to even his own family’s assessment of the first one. And he has raged not just at the polls and the media but also at some people in charge of his reëlection campaign, blaming them for squandering money and allowing Biden’s team to have a significant financial advantage. Trump’s bad temper was visible on October 20th, when he cut short a 60 Minutes interview with Lesley Stahl. A longtime observer who spent time with him recently told me that he’d never seen Trump so angry.

The President’s niece Mary Trump-- a psychologist and the author of the tell-all memoir Too Much and Never Enough-- told me that his fury “speaks to his desperation,” adding, “He knows that if he doesn’t manage to stay in office he’s in serious trouble. I believe he’ll be prosecuted, because it seems almost undeniable how extensive and long his criminality is. If it doesn’t happen at the federal level, it has to happen at the state level.” She described the “narcissistic injury” that Trump will suffer if he is rejected at the polls. Within the Trump family, she said, “losing was a death sentence-- literally and figuratively.” Her father, Fred Trump, Jr., the President’s older brother, “was essentially destroyed” by her grandfather’s judgment that Fred was not “a winner.” (Fred died in 1981, of complications from alcoholism.) As the President ponders potential political defeat, she believes, he is “a terrified little boy.”

Barbara Res, whose new book, Tower of Lies, draws on the eighteen years that she spent, off and on, developing and managing construction projects for Trump, also thinks that the President is not just running for a second term-- he is running from the law. “One of the reasons he’s so crazily intent on winning is all the speculation that prosecutors will go after him,” she said. “It would be a very scary spectre.” She calculated that, if Trump loses, “he’ll never, ever acknowledge it-- he’ll leave the country.” Res noted that, at a recent rally, Trump mused to the crowd about fleeing, ad-libbing, “Could you imagine if I lose? I’m not going to feel so good. Maybe I’ll have to leave the country-- I don’t know.” It’s questionable how realistic such talk is, but Res pointed out that Trump could go “live in one of his buildings in another country,” adding, “He can do business from anywhere.”

It turns out that, in 2016, Trump in fact made plans to leave the United States right after the vote. Anthony Scaramucci, the former Trump supporter who served briefly as the White House communications director, was with him in the hours before the polls closed. Scaramucci told me that Trump and virtually everyone in his circle had expected Hillary Clinton to win. According to Scaramucci, as he and Trump milled around Trump Tower, Trump asked him, “What are you doing tomorrow?” When Scaramucci said that he had no plans, Trump confided that he had ordered his private plane to be readied for takeoff at John F. Kennedy International Airport, so that the next morning he could fly to Scotland, to play golf at his Turnberry resort. Trump’s posture, Scaramucci told me, was to shrug off the expected defeat. “It was, like, O.K., he did it for the publicity. And it was over. He was fine. It was a waste of time and money, but move on.” Scaramucci said that, if 2016 is any guide, Trump would treat a loss to Biden more matter-of-factly than many people expect: “He’ll go down easier than most people think. Nothing crushes this guy.”

Mary Trump, like Res, suspects that her uncle is considering leaving the U.S. if he loses the election (a result that she regards as far from assured). If Biden wins, she suggested, Trump will “describe himself as the best thing that ever happened to this country and say, ‘It doesn’t deserve me-- I’m going to do something really important, like build the Trump Tower in Moscow.’”

The notion that a former American President would go into exile-- like a disgraced king or a deposed despot-- sounds almost absurd, even in this heightened moment, and many close observers of the President, including Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of Trump’s first best-seller, The Art of the Deal, dismiss the idea. “I’m sure he’s terrified,” Schwartz told me. “But I don’t think he’ll leave the country. Where the hell would he go?” However, Snyder, the Yale professor, whose specialty is antidemocratic regimes in Eastern Europe, believes that Trump might well abscond to a foreign country that has no extradition treaty with the U.S. “Unless you’re an idiot, you have that flight plan ready,” Snyder said. “Everyone’s telling me he’ll have a show on Fox News. I think he’ll have a show on RT”-- the Russian state television network.

...Schwartz agreed that Trump “will do anything to make the case he didn’t lose,” and noted that one of Trump’s strengths has been his refusal to admit failure, which means that “when he wins he wins, and when he loses he also wins.” But if Trump loses by a landslide, Schwartz said, “he’ll have many fewer cards to play. He won’t be able to play the election-was-stolen-from-me card-- and that’s a big one.”
But my favorite of all was Olivia Nuzzi's The Final Gasp of Donald Trump’s Presidency for New York. She wrote that by Election Day, Señor T understood that losing was inevitable. "He accepted, even if he had no plans to concede, that his presidency was over. Nevertheless, in the residence, surrounded by senior advisers and family, he was furious. About everything. He was angry things weren’t going his way. He was angry Fox had called Arizona for Biden. He was angry that Biden had gone out on TV first. Everyone was offering him different ideas about what to say to the nation, to fight or to be measured or to say this or that, contradicting each other as the president grew angrier and angrier, throwing up one hand to silence people as he reviewed notes in the other. He was unhappy with the notes. He was unhappy with everything. And then he went out and ignored everybody who had tried to help.
[T]he campaign mounted half-assed legal fights in states they thought he still had a chance to win-- not because they thought it would bring them the election but because there wasn’t much else to do but fight. The New York Times reported that the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, said he was looking for a James Baker–type figure. Instead, they got Rudy Giuliani, Pam Bondi, Corey Lewandowski, and Dave Bossie. “That’s not a legal team,” one of the president’s friends told me. “It’s all so bizarre.”

This person, who speaks to the president often-- or, more accurately, who listens and says uh-huh as the president speaks-- said that Trump is not just done for, but done. “He wants to lose. He’s out of money. He worries about being arrested. He worried about being assassinated,” they said. “It hasn’t been a great experience for him. He likes showing people around the White House, but the actual day-to-day business of being president? It’s been pretty unpleasant for him.”

“A lot of what Trump says is the opposite of what he means. That’s true of all of us, to some extent,” the president’s friend said. But when Trump said he didn’t mind losing to Biden, even though he famously hates losers of any ilk, his friend believed him. “He doesn’t believe losing is shameful-- quitting is bad. Losing isn’t,” this person said. “He’s afraid. He’s the most insecure, afraid person ever. He’s too afraid to be president. He’s afraid to exercise power. He’s afraid to do the job. It’s why he’s overbearing and crazy-- he sabotages himself constantly because he hates himself and wants out. He’s always trying to hurt himself. That guy commits more self-harm than anyone I’ve ever encountered.”

...In the weeks leading up to the election, certain White House officials and people close to the president were busy laying the groundwork for a post-Trump reputational and relationship recovery tour. Trump may be holding rallies and refusing to admit Biden is a legitimately elected president on prime-time Trump TV, but the anti-professional class of operators who assumed power on his coattails know that they’ll have to shape-shift if they want to survive. I received messages from multiple staffers who said they were counting down the days until freedom from the environment they entered, and stayed in, willingly. That they had so much to tell me now that it was too late to matter very much. That they were not the same as the others around them, the people who didn’t see the place, the presidency, for what it really was.

Others didn’t feel they had anything to explain or defend. “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened,” a former White House official told me. “Live. Laugh. Love.” This person added, “Sometimes you own the libs; sometimes the libs own you.”

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At 10:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As long as Trump doesn't start a war somewhere, I hope he chokes on his own tears.

At 5:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes it's a tie.

trump lost, or, rather, biden failed to lose (subtle difference). but the nazis picked up seats and did not lose the senate.

this preps 2022/24 to be a YOOOOGE win by the nazis.


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