Who will bell the cat?

Once AP made the call that Joe Biden had passed the 270 electoral vote threshold, other news outlets like CNN and the New York Times and even Fox News quickly followed suit. AP soon after that called Nevada for Biden, giving him 290 EVs. If he also wins Georgia, and assuming that Trump holds on to North Carolina and Alaska, the final margin will be 306-232, a fitting bookend to Trump’s miserable presidency, since that was the same margin by which he won in 2016, that he of course labeled as a landslide victory, lying that it was one of the biggest in US history.

So now what? The problem for Trump is that he is such an insecure person. You can tell that from the way he sneers at those whom he considers losers because clearly in his mind being a loser is the worst thing one can be. And yet, here he is, only the third president to be defeated when seeking re-election to a second term since World War II. (Gerald Ford was seeking his first election.) What is worse Barack Obama, whom he clearly hates and whose achievements he sought to systematically dismantle in order to feel superior to him, easily won a second term. Even though Jimmy Carter went on to become a respected elder statesman and even won a Nobel prize in 2002 more that two decades after his loss, Trump probably still considers him to be a despicable loser. (Thanks to those in the comments for correcting an error in an earlier version of this post.)

But the clock starts ticking now. There are just 75 days before the inauguration of Biden on January 20th and though Trump may refuse to contemplate that he has lost, the people around him surely know and will have to decide how to persuade him to follow at least some of the norms that have accompanied presidential transitions, such as giving a concession speech, asking his staff to aid the incoming administration’s transition team, meeting with the president-elect, attending the inauguration, and then immediately flying away in the presidential helicopter. But it is simply not in Trump’s DNA to graciously accept defeat and bow out. So who will be willing to bell the cat and tell him the truth, given that all those around him and in the Republican party have all these years acted as if they believed the alternate reality that he has been constructing?

My guess is that he will not follow any of those norms of his own volition but will continue to rage against the results until the very end, pursuing one fruitless legal strategy after another. He will demand that his lawyers file legal challenges because he has this weird sense of certainty that the Supreme Court will step in and save him somehow. It is likely based on the fact that he views everything in transactional terms. In his view, he did Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Coney Barrett favors by putting them on the Supreme Court and now it is their turn to repay the favor by bailing him out. That is the thinking of a bargain basement mobster wannabe like Trump.

But that is getting even more unlikely the more Biden’s EV lead increases leaving no room for doubt, especially since Biden also is defeating him in the popular vote by over 4 million. Trump will tweet out all manner of baseless accusations and try to fire up his supporters to take to the streets and – do what exactly? While I expect them to make a lot of noise initially, the truth will eventually sink in among them too.

Trump is now a lame duck and he will discover that even though he is still president, the mystique of power surrounding the presidency will have suddenly disappeared even among the people in his own inner circle, as people scramble to escape with as little dirt on them as possible and find new jobs. They will feel freer to ignore his commands and speak to reporters with all manner of inside information as they try to repair their shredded reputations as enablers of a serial liar and sociopath. Expect a deluge of books and article by people eager to be the first to spills all the dysfunctional dirt on this sorry excuse of a presidency. Former campaign manager Brad Parscale, the one who was arrested after an armed and drunken alleged assault on his wife, is already supposed to be getting a book deal.

Even though Trump is a delusional narcissist, I doubt that even he will stay until he is marched out of the White House by the Secret Service because the ignominy will be too much. He may leave a few days earlier and fly off to Florida and hide out at his resort. While he will continue to tweet in order to convince himself that he has been wronged and is still relevant and to get attention, he will become like a person on a street corner yelling randomly at passersby. He was always like that, but because he was president, people avoided saying so out loud and felt that they had to report on his words and actions. But now they will feel freer to not relay them.

Frankly, I do not expect much from a Biden administration but it will be a relief to not have to deal with the daily outpourings of hate and insanity from Trump.


  1. says

    I wouldn’t put it past him to go the route of Robert Mugabe and demand to be “president for life”, and to ‘maybe’ share power with Biden.

  2. Bruce Fuentes says

    Slight factual error in your post. Trump is not the fourth President to be defeated for his second term. There have actually been 9. There have been 4 since Nixon.
    J Adams
    J Q Adams
    Benjamin Harrison
    GHW Bush

  3. DrVanNostrand says

    I’m not sure there will be a cat. But once he’s lost all his lawsuits, all he’ll be able to do is scream in all caps on Twitter. The moment of truth will be when he has to leave the White House, and I also assume he’ll want to avoid the embarrassment of being dragged out by security, so he’ll probably just slink away in the middle of the night. As you pointed out, I’m also really looking forward to watching all the rats scramble to abandon the sinking ship.

  4. sonofrojblake says

    “how to persuade him to follow at least some of the norms that have accompanied presidential transitions, such as (…) attending the inauguration”

    Good f*ing luck with that one.

  5. Ray de Silva says

    It was reported that Fox anchors and executives had earlier been instructed to avoid the use of the term “President-Elect” when referring to Biden -- which “advice” has now hastily been disavowed since the memos were publicised. I suggest that the term “President-Loser” be used to describe Trump. It would be interesting to observe the effect.

  6. Nomad says

    My concern is that Republicans will spend the rest of Trump’s term sabotaging the country. Look at how hard they tried to claim the economy for Trump even though it was clearly on the upwards trajectory before he was elected. They’ve been claiming Obama’s economy as their own. Why not blame their own mess on Biden as well?

    The economy doesn’t need much sabotaging now, but there must be ways they can quietly do some damage to the country that they can blame on Biden. Killing the ACA would be a start now that they don’t have to take responsibility for coming up with a replacement. But they’re already openly seeking to do that, that’s hardly a prediction. Are there any more treaties they can pull us out of to further damage our international reputation? Maybe more Chinese tariffs to make it that much harder for Biden to re-engage with China?

  7. anat says

    Nomad, Thomas and Alito can decide to retire, to be replaced by younger versions of themselves before inauguration.

  8. KG says

    In his view, he did Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Coney Barrett favors by putting them on the Supreme Court and now it is their turn to repay the favor by bailing him out. That is the thinking of a bargain basement mobster wannabe like Trump.

    It’s amusing that he would expect gratitude and loyalty from such people, but I’m sure you’re right -- these are only ever one-way streets for a malignant narcissist. But the Supreme Injustices he appointed will act in their own personal and political interests. My guess is that they will simply dismiss any of his election-related cases that get that far, and may even refrain from destroying Obamacare, at least in the case just coming up, because they won’t want to give the Democrats such a perfect issue for the Georgia runoffs. Similarly, while those cronies who were made by him will stick with him for lack of choice, and a lot of his run-of-the-mill followers will do the same, I think a lot of senior Republicans, and far right media figures will take steps to distance themselves from this loser, stat.

  9. sonofrojblake says

    I’m reminded of the words of Enoch Powell:
    All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs.

    I doubt Trump has ever heard of him.

  10. Who Cares says

    @KG(#15) wrote:

    My guess is that they will simply dismiss any of his election-related cases that get that far

    Your guess is wrong. Alito has already intervened on Trumps side in the election going on in Pennsylvania. Granted it was something that the people in charge of the election there were already doing but he made it a court order.
    link to article

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