Donald Trump’s endgame

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Now that Donald Trump has lost and it’s all over but the shouting, we’re seeing a lot of hot takes about how his final three months will be particularly full of drama and brinksmanship. This is possible, but I’m not sure I see it as the most likely outcome.

Don’t get me wrong. Trump will surely try to pardon himself and his family (or have Pence do it) on his way out the door. He’s not suddenly going to turn into a normal non-corrupt human. But look at these final months from his point of view.

Trump is arrogant enough that he surely believes he can beat the criminal charges in New York and somehow rebuild his financial house of cards. As long as he thinks he has a good shot at a happy ending on the golf course in Florida, why would he do something drastic and risky like fleeing the country or going down in a blaze of glory? Those options give him no shot at a happy ending. I don’t think he has any shot at a happy ending no matter what he does, but hope springs eternal for the desperate, and he’s delusional to begin with.

I believe Donald Trump’s final three lame duck months may look surprisingly like his first forty-five lame duck months. He’ll watch a lot of TV, go golfing, pilfer some more money, and focus on trying to best position himself against inevitable criminal charges, all while ignoring the job of president entirely – and then declare victory when his time is up and leave.

Of course we have to be vigilant. But let’s remember that we’re the ones with the leverage now. He’s just a guy who’s trying to figure out how to use the last bit of his presidency to set himself up in the best position possible to beat the criminal charges he knows he’ll face.

   

People in Donald Trump’s newfound position tend to be focused on stopping their own proverbial bleeding, at the expense of anything. The most troubling part is that even in the best case scenario where Trump simply runs out the clock by doing what he’s always been doing, he’ll be leaving another hundred thousand or more Americans to needlessly die in the pandemic. As has usually been the case with Trump, the bulk of his damage may be due to his extreme negligence, rather than any organized attempt at damage.

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