He did it. Donald Trump made it through four years, not an accomplishment many of his detractors thought he would achieve, or even wanted him to. ‘See you soon,’ Trump said. A promise or a threat?
The truth is that Trump has been badly diminished by his antics in the past few weeks, starting but not ending with the melee on 6 January. His enemies didn’t torpedo his presidency. He torpedoed himself.
Trump’s valedictory remarks on Tuesday gave the game away. He couldn’t bring himself to breath the name of Joe Biden. He assumed zero responsibility for the pandemic, barely restraining himself from referring to the ‘Kung Flu’. And he bragged about how great the economy was under his watch even as it continues to falter. It’s as though Herbert Hoover boasted about how great his presidency was apart from the lamentable intrusion of the Great Depression.
His vaulting ambition which o’erleaps itself has transformed him into a pariah, an object lesson for future generations in presidential perfidy. America survived the Trump presidency but his reputation will not. Instead, he can brood poolside at Mar-a-Lago about the inquiries he has been subjected to by the media and law enforcement. True to his nature, the man who bellowed about law and order continued to seek to undermine it in his final act, granting pardons to a variety of his old cronies. But he shrank from wielding the ultimate nullifier, awarding himself a pardon.
With Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell turning on him, Trump faces formidable obstacles in coming weeks and months. The seamy pardons that Trump issued will further repel mainstream Republicans senators. Trump, who craves the limelight, may be tempted to testify on his own behalf should the Senate take up a second impeachment trial. But he will also be bedeviled by his financial woes and legal battles surrounding his faltering business empire. Deutsche Bank appears to have declared auf Wiedersehen to him. His golf clubs are becoming no go zones. And so on.
Trump’s main card was the MAGA movement that he intended to wield once he left the presidency. Last night, a few QAnon types gathered in my neighbourhood in Washington DC outside Comet pizza restaurant to protest a putative paedophile ring being operated in cahoots with Hillary Clinton. Some loud rock music emanating from the restaurant sufficed to chase the gaggle of conspiracy theorists away.
It won’t be quite as easy to expunge Trump’s insalubrious influence on the GOP but I rather doubt that he will be staging any kind of comeback. He’s flaming out like a real comet. See you soon? Not a chance.