Stop it. He’s not quitting.
Yes, everyone would love to believe the rumors sweeping Trumpland and the Washington media that it’s gotten so bad Donald Trump is considering quitting the race.
Never gonna happen. Donald Trump is in this thing until the last dog dies. It’s dumb wishcasting. If Trump is fucked, we all are—for at least the next four months.
Also, on my “cut it the fuck out” list are people already taking victory laps, picking out curtains, and preparing for a Biden Presidency when the election is several hundred years away. Trump’s numbers suck like an industrial sewage pump right now, but this battle is a long way from over, and evil finds a way, so eternal vigilance and no days off is the rule.
For all that, Trump’s world of hurt keeps getting more painful by the day. He doesn’t like the work. He doesn’t enjoy the day-to-day aspects of a job that demands responsibility and intellect, to say nothing of things like meetings, and reading, and thinking, and behaving like a grown-ass adult.
Oh, sure, everyone loves watching the Gorilla Channel, having their interior minister gas peaceful protesters, sleeping in a luxurious bunker and burning Air Force One’s jet fuel on the taxpayers’ dime, but the fun part lost its “Trump l’oeil” lustre a long time ago. Here’s what’s left:
The Campaign Donald Trump’s campaign is good at two things; hoovering up hundreds of millions of dollars from MAGA fans and spending them to move his poll numbers… nowhere. The vaunted Trump Death Star—seriously, the least felicitous nickname, ever—sharted itself last weekend in Tulsa, overpowered by a makeshift rebel army of K-Pop stans.
Donald Trump’s campaign is a chaotic swamp of blame-storming and rat-fucking skells, a slurry of scoundrels, money-laundering no-accounts, and dead-eyed miscreants.
After burning half a billion dollars and the Tulsa humiliation, Brad “Dead Man Walking” Parscale has the thousand-yard stare of a man who knows Ferrari payments ain’t cheap, and his future employment prospects are limited now that Trump’s lost faith in his digital mojo.
Boy Blunder Jared is not-so-secretly in charge, bringing his swaggering determination and fearless leadership to… oh, wait. He’s bringing his McKinsey failbot approach to everything he’s been named czar for, which is, well, everything.
Trump’s 2016 effort could afford to be a shambolic circus; nothing was on the line. He never expected to win and so the rotating cast of campaign managers didn’t really matter. Now, the fear is rising that the bet on a base-only election isn’t playing out.
For Jared and Brad, the vultures are circling the Trump effort, from Karl Rove and his merry band to the Ike Turner of Trump world, Corey Lewandowski. Steve Bannon and pro-am baby daddy Jason Miller are back in the loop. Trump got the band back together, but it feels more like a Team of Yokos than a working unit. They seem to spend the majority of their time talking shit about each other rather than running a campaign. You love to see it.
COVID-19 As Trump persists in his juvenile defiance of masks and social distancing, the pile of bodies keeps growing.
We’ll do it again this week; stare numbly as the numbers cross another “grim milestone.” They’re all grim milestones now, as the raging incompetence of Trump’s administration exacts its toll. The rush to reopen led to Trumpalike Republican governors following his lead. Now cases are surging again, and deaths will surely follow.
We thought 50,000 deaths was a shock, then 75,000 rolled over our screens. 100,000 passed and now 125,000 and the numbness of loss and the unreality of it looms over the world. We may well hit 200,000 before November, and he’ll blame everyone else.
Russia Trump would rather submerge himself in the lake of fire for a thousand years than talk about Russia again. It’s the subject he can never avoid, never fully wash out. It’s the dirty little secret at the heart of some mystery about Trump’s finances or personal life or something that will be solved by historians. We’ve seen already that Bill Barr will do his worst to cover up any truth, but Trump can’t help but tear off the bandage.
Whatever it is, it played out once again this weekend as the Times broke the news that the administration was aware of a Russian program in Afghanistan to pay bounties to murder American troops. Of course while this was going on Trump continues his subservient, ass-sniffing behavior toward Vladimir Putin. Like a dog.
He invited Putin to rejoin the G8, to visit the White House, and engage in his usual knee-bending to a geopolitical political rival. For all that Trump’s fans believe him to be an avatar of masculinity and martial strength, the idea of a Russian bounty program paying cash for the deaths of American soldiers doesn’t seem to bother Trump. His inaction screams for investigation and exposure.
White Power Black Lives Matter, but white power gets the retweet. Donald Trump’s racism is of course an ongoing feature, not a bug. Retweeting a man who yells “white power” at a—wait for it—golf cart parade at—wait for it—The Villages wasn’t a mistake. It was one more dog whistle mounted on a nuclear-powered air-raid siren for Trump’s base. Sure, the tweet was pulled down after Tim Scott demanded it, but it had its effect, and of course introduced the usual beliefs of outrage from Trump’s defenders, who always find themselves holding the shit end of the stick on the rare moments when he is forced to do the right thing.
Trump is feeling the pressure of a movement in this country to reform the way police deal with African-Americans, and his screechy defense of Confederate military base names and Confederate statues is narrowing his electoral path. Sorry, Don. Diamond and Silk aren’t getting you out of this one.
Look, there are a thousand things to hate about Donald Trump, a thousand reasons why he should be consigned to the dustbin of history at the earliest possible moment. There’s a catalog of his behavior that will stand as a warning to future generations to never let an authoritarian jackhole reality TV show host become a national leader.
But for all this pain, and for all his rising fear, Trump will never quit this race.
Even as he grows to loathe the burdens of the presidency more with each passing day, Trump realizes that without the power of his office (and the sword and shield of Bill Barr to protect him), every conceivable chicken will come home to roost. His is not a future in cosseted luxury but billion-dollar legal bills, the slow betrayal of everyone around him and the destruction of what remains of his vaunted brand.
Trump is trapped in this campaign, and we’re trapped with him. Desperate, pinned animals are still dangerous as hell. Don’t imagine for a moment there’s a limit on what he’ll do or say to win, no matter how bad it gets.