Surely it couldn’t be cynical demagoguery about denying the existence of of a pandemic or is it more about trying to visit ever more cruelty upon defenseless fellow citizens.
But Trump’s favorite riff was reliving the night of the 2016 election. It was “the greatest night in the history of television,” he told a crowd in Wisconsin three weeks ago. “We had so much fun, the tears that were flowing. … Remember the tears?” On Oct. 25, at a rally in New Hampshire, he claimed that as one state after another fell into his column that night—Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania—TV reporters had wept on air. “They’re crying, they’re crying,” he exulted, recalling the scene. “It was beautiful. … You saw these very unbiased anchors with the tears coming down.” In every retelling, Trump boasted that his tally that night, 306 electoral votes, had traumatized the opposition. “We’re going to have an even more amazing evening” on Nov. 3, he promised.
For a few hours on Tuesday night, it looked that way. Then states began to count the millions of ballots mailed in by people who’d had enough of Trump. By Wednesday morning, he was in shock. “They are finding Biden votes all over the place,” he protested. First he issued a preposterous monarchic decree that “we have claimed” Michigan, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. Then he demanded that election workers “STOP THE COUNT!” On Thursday, he went to the White House podium and ranted, “I won Pennsylvania by a lot. … In Georgia, I won by a lot. … We were way up in Michigan, won the state.” By Friday, he was pleading, “I had such a big lead in all of these states late into election night, only to see the leads miraculously disappear. … Perhaps these leads will return as our legal proceedings move forward!”
What we’re watching now, as the ballots pile up against Trump, and as he vows to fight on in the courts, is the slow-motion humiliation of an empty demagogue. The man who mocked Sen. John McCain’s heroism and called former Sen. Jeff Flake “stupid” is trailing in their state, Arizona, thanks to 100,000 Republicans who, at the urging of Flake and of McCain’s widow, voted for Biden. And the rebuke is personal: Republicans held the Senate and won lots of races down the ballot, often beating the president’s margins. Now, as his party slinks away from him, Trump faces the prospect of surrendering the White House to the man he belittled, in every speech, as “the worst candidate in the history of presidential politics.” It’s such a shame.
The case level has reached ten million. It is more bizarre enabling of a now-defeated loser who is now attempting to evade what surely will be prosecution for numerous crimes.
Behind the scenes, Trump advisers and allies are increasingly resigned to a Biden victory, according to people familiar with internal discussions, who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to share private conversations.
But few so far are actively discouraging the president or his campaign from pursuing all legal paths to contest the results. Only a smattering of Republican senators have acknowledged Biden’s victory, and there has been little coaxing on the part of senior GOP lawmakers to help Trump come to terms with his loss. Some said there is value in ensuring the integrity of this year’s results, while others described a chaotic and scattershot operation that they hoped would eventually push Trump to cooperate in a peaceful transfer of power.