It’s been nearly five years now since I suggested that Donald Trump actually had a real shot at getting elected president — an observation that was received at the time with universal hoots of derision by the LGM faithful.
I’m mentioning this because I want to introduce the following idea: There’s a non-trivial chance that Donald Trump will quit the presidential race at some point before November 3rd, and a better chance that he will quit before his term expires on January 20th. I don’t think this is likely by any means: but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it happens.
Of all the delusional things that Trump’s supporters believe about him, one of the most delusional is that Trump is a tough guy who doesn’t back down. A woman tweeted a couple of days ago — I can’t find the tweet at the moment — that Americans weren’t willing to elect a woman president in 2016 but they got a little bitch anyway, which is exactly right.
ETA: Here it is (h/t tsam):
(Side point: expressions like “acting like a little bitch” never made any sense to me — in my experience women in general are much tougher than men, and indeed the human race would go extinct within a couple of centuries at most if the biological roles in the propagation of the species were somehow reversed).
In fact Trump is an enormous crybaby and whiner, to a point that would be viscerally disgusting if there weren’t so many other disgusting things about him, making this particular source of disgust difficult to sort out from all the others.
A key under-appreciated fact about Trump is that he’s a quitter. For his entire astonishingly over-privileged life he’s walked away from things if they start to get tough: business deals, television shows, football leagues, marriages — as soon there’s any real pain or sacrifice involved, Trump is pretty much certain to bail.
Indeed, Trump is an accidental president: his initial entry into the race in the summer of 2015 was almost certainly a publicity stunt, and the whole thing just spun out of control (Basically we’re living through the plot of The Producers, except with a lot more death and destruction).
Trump hates almost every aspect of being president, because even pretending to be president is an actual job, and Trump doesn’t do actual jobs, because he’s one of world’s laziest people (The legendarily lazy writer Fran Lebowitz puts it this way: “Trump is very lazy. I can tell you, the same way basketball players say ‘game recognizes game,’ sloth recognizes sloth. This is a lazy guy.”).
Being president interferes with golfing, whoring, showing up at parties, watching TV for hours on end — basically it’s not much fun at all, which is why Trump doesn’t really do being president, except in the most superficial way.
He’s kept the job for this long, I think, because it was an ideal way to get on TV, hold rallies that are preposterous combinations of Triumph of the Will and the King of Comedy, and have people grovel before him. Those attributes, along with the opportunities to steal very large amounts money, have kept him minimally engaged enough to keep him in the job, sort of, up until now.
But now things are different. He can’t hold his rallies, the daily Trump show of the COVID press conferences is flopping, and in the context of the pandemic he’s being mocked in ways that seem to be triggering all his narcissistic fear of shame and exposure.
On top of all that, the cratering of the economy threatens to turn the 2020 presidential race into the closest thing to a rout that can happen in a country where 40% of the electorate would literally vote for Trump if he raped his daughter on the Oval Office desk in a nationally broadcast special.
Submitted for your approval: If September rolls around he’s down by 12 points to Biden, I can see him simply quitting before he’s fired, like he once did with The Apprentice and countless other ventures. He’ll pardon himself and the people who can implicate him most egregiously, he’ll grab everything that isn’t nailed down, and he’ll run away. (In this scenario, he announces that’s he’s already accomplished far more than any other president, the election is being rigged by the Deep State and the media, walking away is really the biggest victory anyone has ever won because no one has ever faced what he’s overcome already, the American people don’t really deserve him anyway, etc. etc.)
If this seems unimaginable, remember that this is a man who has no conception of what the presidency actually is. For him, it’s just another reality TV show gig, just another “deal,” just another increasingly burdensome and boring relationship that he wants to escape. Words like honor and duty are incomprehensible to him (I mean this quite literally).
Again, I’m not saying this will happen: I’m saying if it does happen, it will of course be shocking — but it should not be in any way surprising. At the core of the void where his soul is supposed to be, Trump is a quitter. It’s one of the most fundamental things about him. And if he does quit the presidency of the United States, he’ll do it in exactly the same way he has quit everything else in the vast wasteland that is his life story: in an outburst of narcissistic impulsiveness, that will make a toddler grabbing a handful of Oreos look like a monument to Aristotelian reflection.
. . . Nick never Nick points out that if Trump does it, he’s likely to do it at the moment that does maximum damage to his followers in particular and the GOP in general (As Scott has noted several times, one of Trump’s strongest and most consistent impulses is to screw over his most loyal and obsequious allies in the cruelest way possible):
I think the one thing Paul forgets to mention is that Trump, historically, destroys his partners and supporters. When things are good, he just screws up his competitors (Democrats, voters, America); but when times are bad, you don’t want to be in Lifeboat Trump, because there isn’t enough water for both you and Trump.
That’s where the GOP is now.