As if an attempted coup, insulting the “totally incompetent and weak” Supreme Court (including three appointees who supposedly were his big gift to conservatives), and refusing even to comment on the covid-19 surge did not make it clear, President Donald Trump’s recent actions should show he is not seriously contemplating another presidential run in 2024. Not even he could be so delusional as to imagine this recent flurry of destructive behavior helps him retain plausibility as a future presidential contender.
If you want to remain a viable presidential contender, you do not:
Veto the National Defense Authorization Act to defund the military and thereby set the stage for a humiliating veto override vote;
Refuse for days to sign a stimulus bill, which meant a lapse of unemployment benefits for millions of Americans and delay, at the very least, of stimulus checks to millions of struggling Americans. (Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday morning aptly summed up Trump’s antics: “What the president is doing right now is unbelievably cruel. Many millions of people are losing their extended unemployment benefits. They’re going to be evicted from their apartments. ... There’s money in that bill.”);
Throw around a $2,000 stimulus check figure that makes Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler seem miserly as they struggle to win runoff elections in Georgia;
Risk sending the economy into a tailspin. (As Michele Evermore of the National Employment Law Project told the New York Times: “Foreclosures, hunger, homelessness, suicide. There will be very permanent things that happen to people that can’t be fixed by a check in three weeks.”);
Hector his party to make a futile effort to disrupt counting the electoral votes cast on Dec. 14;
Pardon war criminals, people charged in the Russian interference investigation and/or cronies who lied under oath; and
Express hatred and contempt for the United States. (“Courts are bad, the FBI and ‘Justice’ didn’t do their job, and the United States Election System looks like that of a third world country.”)
If he manages to sabotage the two Georgia GOP Senate candidates, he will deprive Republicans of the Senate majority, which would greatly assist President-elect Joe Biden in getting his nominees and legislative agenda through Congress.
This is the conduct of someone who wants to burn down his party — and the country — if he cannot be president. While his cruelty still astounds, his temper tantrum also reveals the foolishness of Republicans who placated and defended him for four years. They enabled him throughout his presidency, prevented his removal in the impeachment trial, tried to subvert our election so he could remain in power and spent four years insisting that supporting him was the right thing to do for the sake of the “rule of law” and an economic boom (both of which he undermined). He is rendering Republicans who tied themselves in knots even more uncomfortable when they are pressed to answer, “Was it really worth it?” (It was hard enough for them to answer in the affirmative before this latest rampage, with more than 300,000 American deaths from covid-19 and the economy in tatters.)
If the plan here was to keep an iron grip on the Republican Party and clear the way for his 2024 run, this sure is not going to deliver him vindication. He is on the right track, however, if he intends to go to war with the Republican Party as a means of soliciting money and/or attention from the MAGA crowd. (Republicans abandoned me — send a check!)
Many of us in the Never Trumper camp have argued that the Republican Party is not worth preserving after years of its leaders’ moral abdication, refusal to uphold their oaths and toleration of racism. What we did not bank on was that after corrupting the party, Trump would be the perfect means of destroying the GOP. In doing so, he might finally make a contribution to U.S. democracy.
Jennifer Rubin writes reported opinion for The Washington Post.