Trump Endgame: Handicapping the Possible Outcomes, Post Bleachergate
In the Age of Quarantine, it feels like ANYTHING can happen. How will the worst presidency in history play out?
|Greg Olear||Apr 28|| 73||10|
THIS IS the first week “A.D.”—After Disinfectant. We are now in the part of the story where Donald John Trump has said something, not at all sarcastically, that The Onion literally joked he might say. Reality has outpaced satire. Welcome to the Upside-Down.
My 15-year-old emerged from his teenager cave on Friday, pausing whatever video game he was playing, to weigh in on Bleachergate: “Dad, I finally get it. I knew Trump was stupid, but I didn’t know he was this stupid. He’s really [expletive deleted] stupid.” He repeated this several times, shaking his head and chuckling derisively, stunned at how Trump could be such an idiot, and also that I didn’t yell at him for cursing.
The irony here is that I believe Dr. Birx’s explanation for why the President of the United States suggested—sincerely suggested, despite his furious attempts to pretend otherwise—we might try injecting disinfectant into our bodies to kill the virus: “When he gets new information, he likes to talk that through out loud,” she said. “I think he just saw the information at the time immediately before the press conference, and he was still digesting.”
The issue is that, first, it took five months since learning about covid-19 for his brain to come up with this not-completely-illogical notion, and, second, that that same brain required more than five seconds to reject the idea as…well, as fucking stupid, in my son’s hard-boiled phrasing. Yes, Trump is a traitor, owned by Putin, actively trying to kill us. He’s also dumb as a steel girder. The two are not mutually exclusive.
The real question now is: what does this mean for him, going forward?
I no longer expect any statement or action by Trump, however horrible, to result in his hasty removal from office. But that drink-the-Clorox blunder, magnified by his infantile refusal to admit his mistake—it was not sarcasm, it was not the media’s fault, it was exactly what Birx said it was—seems to herald the beginning of a new phase. The pressers have stopped. There are now rumblings on the GOP side of the aisle, concern that the president is so toxic that he will cost them not only the White House, but the Senate as well. Mitch McConnell is in panic mode. Although it remains highly likely, it is no longer a certainty that Trump will be on the Republican ticket in November.
With six months and change left until Election Day, Trump’s re-election prospects are bleak. He has treated the entire country, and all of us, like we were the art deco facade of the Bonwit Teller Building. The economy is in shambles. The Dow crashed so badly that it wiped out all the gains of the last three years. Oil prices are at lows rarely seen since I started driving. Unemployment claims are at the highest level since the Great Depression. We are decidedly not better off than we were four years ago:
In addition to being a piece of Russian mob property, Trump owes China nine figures, and the bill is due. We all have to wear masks when we go to the store, and the country is out of toilet paper. Worst of all, Trump has bungled the pandemic response so badly that more than 50,000 Americans (the real number is certainly much higher) have died from the coronavirus. The only people who believe the fiction that Trump will “make America great again” are consuming Lysol, or else participating in “re-open America” rallies, which are nothing more than dark-money-sponsored opportunities to spread disease. Meanwhile, we can’t go to the hospital to sit with our dying loved ones, and we can’t hold proper funerals when they die. This is all Trump’s fault. Oh, and Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner are heisting medical supplies from hospitals, and using them either for political gain, sending them to swing states, or personal gain, skimming off the top—which is so evil that it’s frankly hard to wrap my head around.
There is no reality, none, in which this ends well for President God. And the ad-libbed disinfectant comment seems to have activated more people than anything else he’s done.
We are in the endgame now.
A week before Trump was inaugurated, mostly to make myself feel better, I wrote a piece called “What Are the Odds of Donald Trump Serving All Four Years of His Term?” In January of 2016, I already had a good idea of what Trump really was—“a compromised Russian intelligence asset,” I called him, which is very close to the truth—but I still operated under the happy delusion that, when presented with evidence of Trump’s criminality and sedition, Congressional Republicans would do the right thing for the country and oust the traitor. Silly me, taking for granted the patriotism of the party that loves to wrap itself in the flag!
As we head into the home stretch, let’s revisit the various outcomes I laid out in 2016, and calculate the 2020 odds. As I wrote then: “Les jeux sont faits. Remember, in gambling, the house always wins—unless the casino is owned by Donald J. Trump.”
1/ He is impeached.
This already went down. The Senate GOP and the Chief Justice allowed a sham trial to take place, and Trump was acquitted just in time to actively try to kill us all by his intentional bungling of the pandemic response. There isn’t enough time or political energy left to impeach him again, nor would the House or the Senate be able to physically convene to hold the hearings. This is not happening.
2016 odds: 3 to 1
2020 odds: 50 to 1
2/ He resigns (in disgrace).
I have long believed that Trump would resign before he ever appeared before the Senate in an actual impeachment trial. Alas, I did not foresee that the Senate GOP would allow him not to testify at all. At this point, Trump will only resign if Mitch McConnell and Rupert Murdoch order him to do so. If the poll numbers plummet more, they just might.
2016 odds: 3 to 1
2020 odds: 3 to 1
3/ He dies of natural causes.
Here’s what I wrote in 2016: “Whatever his personal physician may have suggested about his robust health, Donald Trump is a 70-year-old man, 30 pounds overweight, who sleeps less than four hours a night and subsists on fast food, and whose tangerine pallor is perhaps more indicative of liver dysfunction than tanning-bed mishap. After an exhausting 18-month campaign, he is now about to embark on what is the most stressful job there is. Would anyone be that surprised if he keeled over of Herod’s Evil at some point between now and 2020?” Trump is now four years older, 100 pounds heavier, and living through what has to be the most stressful period of his life. Herod’s Evil won’t get him, but The Rona—or a faulty ticker—might.
2016 odds: 10 to 1
2020 odds: 10 to 1
4/ He is assassinated.
I don’t even like to mention this possibility, but it’s occurred enough times in US history that it can’t not be included. So: Trump is in quarantine in the White House, surrounded by Secret Service and sycophants. This isn’t happening. And should not happen, ever, under any circumstances, to Trump or any other president.
2016 odds: 10 to 1
2020 odds: 300 to 1
5/ He is incapacitated and thus removed.
Maybe Trump has dementia, and maybe that dementia kicks into high gear in the coming months. Maybe he has a psychotic break, and whips out his tiny pecker on national TV. Maybe all the drug abuse catches up to him. Maybe he has a stroke, like Woodrow Wilson. Maybe he has surgery and winds up in a “vegetative state,” like his billet-doux correspondent in Pyongyang.
2016 odds: 20 to 1
2020 odds: 25 to 1
6/ He completes his term.
My money is still on resignation, but this is far and away the most likely scenario: Trump goes out as the lamest lame duck of all time, humiliated, ignored, and reviled, staggering out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue next January into the waiting arms of the New York State AG’s office. He spends the remainder of his life in distress, in court, or in prison.
2016 odds: 20 to 1
2020 odds: 2 to 1
7/ Something else happens that prevents him from serving four years as president.
Bill Barr abolishes the Constitution, a move upheld by a 5-4 Supreme Court decision; Trump becomes King Donald I. Or: the coronavirus mutates and kills us all. Or: the meteor comes. Or: We all wake up from a national nightmare to find that HRC is president, we all have excellent healthcare, the Clippers are playing the Bucks in the NBA Finals, and after a terrible season of Celebrity Apprentice that starred Sean Spicer, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Kayleigh McEnany, and the lush whose name I already forgot, the show is canceled; Ivanka quietly divorces Jared and starts dating Christopher Steele, and we all live happily ever after.
2016 odds: 300 to 1
2020 odds: 300 to 1
It feels like anything could happen in These Uncertain Times. But of two things, I am absolutely certain: First, if he runs, Trump will lose the election—bigly. Second, we will not yield until that happens. In November, we have an historic opportunity to take our country back from the forces of evil. And nothing—neither plague, nor voter suppression, nor Bill Fucking Barr—will stand in our way.
We shall prevail!