For Trump to be reelected would take a political miracle much greater than the one that propelled him to the White House in 2016. Four years is not a long time, but given the warp speed at which Trump lurches from one political upheaval to another, it is more than enough time to reveal his true colors. And the big reveal is that the man who received a one million startup loan to launch his own real estate development company was the same man who would become president of the United States in 2016.
How did this happen? Wackadoodle conspiracy theories aside, the consensus now seems to be that this was an unlikely political black swan: a confluence of disparate events came together to produce something never before seen: a seventy-four year old business tycoon who had never held a political office, had never pursued a political position, would arrive at the White House on January 2017 as the first President never to have served a day in the military, or any governmental capacity whatsoever. After a lifetime as a smash mouth celebrity, he became a smash mouth president.
Summing up the second and final debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni commented: “Trump came into the evening in miserable shape, the odds against his re-election growing longer with each daily snit. His economy has tanked, his base has shrunk, his attempts to vilify Biden have faded and his downplaying of the coronavirus has been undercut by his own infection with it and its rampage through the White House.
“The debate itself presented a tough even impossible task. On the one hand, Trump had to rattle Biden, because the way to catch up to a front runner is to halt its stride, and Trump was hardly going to do that with politeness and affirmations.
“But he couldn’t repeat his disastrous turn in their previous encounter, when he wasn’t so much fierce as feral. To repair the damage he had to exhibit at least a whisper of decorum and the faintest murmuring of a heart.
“Those goals were in tension, though several prominent Republicans noted that Trump had a model for how to behave: Mike Pence who was alternately zealous and Zen in his vice presidential debate with Kamala Harris.
“But Trump lacks the humility to take cues from anyone. And nudging the nutty monarch of Mar-a-Loco to emulate the Hoosier snoozer is like asking a honey badger to morph into a three-toed sloth. It goes against the very nature of the beast.
“He pursued an odd strategy, built on pure delusion and dependent on voters and dependent on voters complete amnesia.
“He painted Biden, not himself, as an ethical abomination whose career in government was devoted to personal enrichment. He essentially cast Biden as the incumbent, speaking as if Biden has exited the vice presidency all of 60 seconds ago, and clung to the doom that he, the leader of the world’s richest and most powerful country for nearly four years was the ultimate outsider.”
In about a week the drama will be (officially) over.
No one can say for sure, but Trump seems to be set on a glide path to a historic electoral defeat. A classic example of someone being hoist by his own petard.
So if he loses what will the mad king do?
Will he have the saving grace to cash in his chips, do the right thing, acknowledge defeat, and give his youthful dream of being a modern dictator an honorable burial? Or will he try to take down as many of us as he can?
Time will tell.
As for Joe Biden, the last man standing — for much of his professional life, his sweetest dream, the holy Grail of his most glorious ambition was to finally become the President of the United States.
Here’s his chance.
I wish him well.
Is the author of
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Patient
Psychodynamic Studies of the Creative Personality
His new book is
God and Therapy
What We Believe
When No One is Watching
In the last six months he has published a series of essays on the crucial importance of the upcoming presidential election (see all in medium.com: If I Were President, Four More Years, The Mad King, Do You Swear To Tell The Truth The Whole Truth and Nothing But The Truth?, Joe Biden; a Lion in his Prime, The Road Less Traveled).