So this is how it ends. Certainly not with a bang, and not quite with a whimper either, but instead with a sort of loud angry whimper that’s half heartedly meant to come off like a bang.
Sitting at an inexplicably tiny desk yesterday, Donald Trump finally took questions for the first time since he lost the election. He ended up yelling “Don’t talk to me that way, I’m the President of the United States” at a reporter who dared to ask him about conceding. It was reminiscent of when the fictional President yelled “How dare you come into this office and bark at me like some little junkyard dog? I am the President of the United States” at Harrison Ford in the film Clear And Present Danger. That President was defeated and afraid of what was coming next, just as Trump is.
The thing is, Trump has never been particularly good at selling his strongman routine. Part of it is that he just can’t be bothered to put in the work required to give himself the upper hand. Awhile back, Trump yelled “You will never make it” at White House correspondent Jonathan Karl, apparently mistaking him for some rookie when in fact Karl was the president of the White House Correspondents Association.
But now Trump is just falling to pieces altogether. His “Thanksgiving” message yesterday consisted of tweeting “No thanks” at a pair of football players who had taken a knee, one of whom was white, in a reminder that the debate has completely passed Trump by.
Donald Trump seems desperate to find any minor points of leverage or suspense to keep all eyes on him, but those moments are increasingly slipping away from him. Yesterday he said that he’s made up his mind about whether he’ll attend President Biden’s inauguration but he’s not willing to reveal his decision yet, as if anyone cares. At some point a failed search for leverage merely displays as petulance. Trump is unraveling before our eyes, but instead of going out with a bang, he seems intent on simply humiliating himself.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report