The harmless-sounding term “lame duck” is used to describe a defeated or outgoing president whose successor has already been chosen. To my ears it never conjured a more sinister implication, that of a wounded animal, until now. The dark implication is made darker still when the animal is human. Such a wound becomes unsustainable when the human in question is also a malignant narcissist named Donald J. Trump.
We don’t know what Donald Trump is going to do with the final 78 days of his presidency should he lose the election in November. But one thing we can be sure of, he will not take his loss graciously nor with dignity. He’s going to look around for someone to blame and the last place he will look will be in a mirror. He will almost certainly blame his campaign strategists and other people in the White House. He will fault what he incessantly refers to as the “lame stream media.” He will even hold Fox News accountable for not remaining loyal to him. Above all Trump will blame the American people.
The people who believe that Trump will take his loss with grace and dignity don’t know what narcissists are capable of. Those of us who have seen narcissists in action or lived with them know and tremble. It will not be a tranquil time. Trump will decide with the reasoning of the psychopath that the American people have become “unworthy” of him, and he will punish them accordingly.
Perhaps the most famous example of a leader turning on his people for the alleged crime of unworthiness was Adolf Hitler’s so-called “Nero Decree.” Hitler ordered his armaments minister Albert Speer to destroy Germany’s infrastructure, ostensibly because he didn’t want the Allies profiting from Germany’s resources. While certainly true, the deeper psychological reason behind the decree was that Hitler felt, in the infinitude of his narcissism, that the German people themselves deserved punishment for failing Germany’s greatest leader, himself. The degree of the punishment needed to be commensurate with the greatness of the leader, in Hitler’s delusional mind.
In his tweets, with likewise unaccountable delusion, Trump still sometimes refers to himself as “your favorite president,” and has as recently as June compared himself favorably with Abraham Lincoln. He appears to believe that he’s ahead in the polls going into the November election. Ostensibly Trump expects another shocking victory equivalent to 2016. Do not underestimate the extent to which Trump has fooled himself. Narcissism is a powerful antidote to reality.
No one knows what form Trump’s vengeance is going to take should he lose on November third. I have no doubt that it will not be pleasant. To be sure he may need to do nothing at all for the transition to be painful and deadly. (As I write this, in the last 24 hours coronavirus has claimed the lives of 1,361 Americans.) Even so, brace yourselves for Trump’s vengeance. We can only hope that some of the men and women around him will prevent him from doing anything too destructive in his final 78 days.
Even so I find myself wishing that the Manhattan District Attorney had delayed leaking that Trump is under criminal investigation. It will make his willingness to cheat the democratic process going into the election and his vengeance for failing to win all the more terrible. As comforting as I find the news of the coming indictment, I also find it scary. The most vicious kind of wounded animal, the narcissistic human kind, just received another wound. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.