His departure from Washington was a pretty pathetic affair. He was able to order up a 21-gun salute and a military band but that was about it in terms of the pomp that his narcissistic personality craves.
With the pomp and circumstance granted to a foreign leader visiting the nation’s capital, the taxpayer-funded ceremony treated Trump to a military band playing “Hail to the Chief” as deafening sounds from a 21-gun salute echoed across Joint Base Andrews, just outside Washington, DC. The manufactured nature of the festivities, ginned up to rival President Joe Biden’s inauguration, seemed more fitting for an ousted autocrat heading into exile.
The music typically played at Trump rallies blared over the loudspeakers, including one of the President’s favorites, “YMCA,” by the Village People. Only this time, Trump did not bop along to the lyrics as he often does at his rallies, pumping his fists, to the delight of his supporters. Trump lumbered around the stage like a defeated prize fighter, scanning the venue for the exits.
Obsessed with crowd sizes, Trump had hoped for a grand departure ceremony prior to this final presidential flight, teeming with throngs of adoring fans in MAGA hats, to cap off his last morning in power. The event allowed for invitees to bring up to five guests in an effort to produce a large turnout. But the small gathering of approximately 200 people in attendance on the frigid tarmac paled in comparison to Trump’s caustic campaign rallies, lending a cold and melancholy mood to the setting.
As he walked down a red carpet and past the color guard for a final time as commander in chief, the President and first lady steered clear of the reporters gathered under the wing of Air Force One.
“Do you have any remorse for the events of January 6?” this reporter asked Trump. The President did not respond.
During the flight to West Palm Beach, Trump declined to visit with members of the press, a continuation of the outgoing President’s determination to evade questions about his role in the Capitol insurrection.
Following Trump’s arrival in Florida, reporters made one final attempt to shout questions on the tarmac, during the ex-president’s final minutes in office.
“Any remorse for the events of January 6?” this reporter asked again.
There was no response.
This is going to be Trump’s problem. If he wants to stay in the public eye, at some point he will have to talk to reporters and they will ask him about January 6th. He cannot completely disavow the mob for fear of antagonizing them even more than he already has and he cannot bluster and try to bully reporters to avoid answering awkward questions, a signature move with him, because he is no longer the president.
When he berated, harangued, and denigrated the media during his term of office, they were initially hesitant to challenge him because he was the president and while they became more emboldened later, he could still drown them out and cut them out by not calling on them. But now he needs them and just does not have the same loud megaphone.