Jacob Heilbrunn

The fallout from Trump’s American carnage

The fallout from Trump's American carnage
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Congratulations, President Trump! It took a while but you’ve finally achieved the American carnage that you purported to descry in your inaugural address four years ago. It would be hard to think of a more symbolically apt end to your presidency.

Trump’s shameful, revolting and tawdry taped message late on Wednesday urging his supporters to disband devoted more urgency to calling the election a fraud than condemning their storming of the US Capitol. All that was missing was the claim that there are good people on both sides.

Trump long ago forfeited any claim to dignity. The idea that he was ever capable of acting as president was the central fiction of his presidency, which is now fully enveloped in the moral squalor that he has always embraced. Trump isn’t the commander-in-chief. Instead, he is a defeated commander reluctantly ordering his motley irregulars to disperse.

Trump has shredded his hopes of running again in 2024 and immeasurably aided Joe Biden with his antics in recent weeks. The likes of Fox host Laura Ingraham trying to claim that a few bad apples among the protesters are responsible for the insurrection. Please. The desecration — the word is not too strong — of the US Capitol is the culmination of Trump’s wild talk urging his followers to be 'wild’. Tweets can have consequences. Trump’s apparently did. He was the arsonist who gathered the kindling and lit the bonfire of his vanity, proclaiming earlier today that he would 'never concede’.

No concession should be made to Trump, it is too late for him to take the honourable route. Now the Capitol has been cleared of the mob that stormed it, Congress will swiftly certify Biden’s presidency. To launch a new impeachment would be a wasteful undertaking. The cabinet may well invoke the 25th Amendment — on the grounds of 'incapacitation' — to haul him out of the Oval Office.

The GOP may well be irreparably damaged by the insurrection that it has encouraged. Senator Mitt Romney may well seize the opportunity to form a new conservative party that has no truck with the radical right. Others may cross the aisle. Perhaps Trump's votaries will seize the chance to create other mini-insurrections around the country. If so, they will fail.

Trump has already failed. He is no 18th Brumaire but a tinpot authoritarian. All along his attempt to launch a coup has veered between farce and tragedy. He lured his credulous followers to DC only a week or so before he decamps to his private quarters at Mar-a-Lago where he will hold court poolside even as some of his most ardent supporters head to jail for their crimes.

Now that the Democrats control Congress, the tumult in Washington will embolden them to make a clean sweep with the past four years. Trump was not an avatar of a new future. He is the gravedigger of the GOP.