Just as the character played by Bruce Willis in “The Sixth Sense” didn’t know he was dead, Donald Trump doesn’t know he lost. I don’t know about you, but when I see Donald Trump I don’t see an outgoing president, or a lame duck president, or even a tired and tedious one-term president like the parade of one-term mediocrities leading up to the election of Abraham Lincoln. I see an ex-president. But then, ex-president is the thing Trump decided to become almost from the first day after his inauguration. Life handed Donald Trump his chance and he didn’t just blow it, he blew it every single day he was in office, and he started blowing it right away. He became an ex-president sometime in late January, 2017. From that point forward it was all over but the waiting.
Maya Angelou said it best. When someone tells you who they are, believe them the first time. When Trump took office he made it clear to everyone exactly who he was. Many in the media — and shame on them for it — refused to believe him. He was and remained throughout his term of office a petty, vindictive, hateful, lying, duplicitous, destructive little man, just like he said he would be from the very first.
The collective breath held by members of the media, waiting for the day Donald Trump would finally become “presidential,” was becoming increasingly blue-in-the-face embarrassing for them. Donald Trump, presidential? It wasn’t going to happen. Not ever. Donald Trump abrogated the presidency at the very beginning. He resigned the presidency just as surely and effectively as Richard Nixon did, only Trump did it at the very start of his term of office. The consequence was a ruin of inaction, bad decisions, divisiveness and stochastic terrorism.
Trump’s term of office was a one man rage-tweet marathon punctuated by golf games, television watching and junk food meals. It was a calamity that played out according to the dictates of the Constitution of the United States. No Constitutional remedy, not impeachment, not the 25th Amendment, not any inducement to formally resign, could dislodge him. We had to wait it out. And so we have. And the people have finally spoken.
But again, Donald Trump already told us who he is and, again, it’s time for us to start believing him. He told us before the election and continued to tell us shortly after the election that the election was rigged. And no, I’m not referring to this last election, I’m talking about 2016. He said then — and his pathetic narrative hasn’t changed since — that five million illegal votes were counted for Hillary Clinton and that he “really” won by a landslide. Donald Trump won’t permit reality through his door. When the facts don’t align with his wishes they become fake news. When circumstances say otherwise then it’s reality that’s got it wrong.
It’s time for us to finally admit to ourselves and everyone else that Donald Trump will never, ever, acknowledge that he lost this time either. Freudian slips aside, we are never going to hear the words “I lost and Biden won” from Donald Trump. Those among us with direct experience with malignant narcissists knew it already. The rest of us need to catch up. I will happily eat my proverbial linguistic hat if I’m wrong, but in no universe where malignant narcissists exist is Donald Trump ever going to concede.
The good news is he doesn’t have to. He’s gone no matter what he says. Frankly, I don’t care if he gets up tomorrow and says he lost by a trillion votes. It won’t matter because he doesn’t matter. He’s an ex-president, exactly what he decided to become way back in 2017.
You see, a President of the United States is a servant. Being president is the ultimate gilded indenture. It is a covenant with the American people to serve them, and a President makes that sacred covenant, “registered in heaven” as Lincoln put it, to the “best of [his or her] ability,” to “faithfully execute the office of president of the United States” and to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Donald Trump never did that job. Never. Not once.
Whatever Trump says from this point forward is irrelevant, a footnote to history. As I said, he ceased being president a long time ago. We’ve waited this long to see him out the door because we had to. The presidency was and remained for him a sinecure, glorified welfare, a destructive and deadly fishbowl retirement where he could occasionally play president on the world stage. Finally and at last, the long, national embarrassment is over.
It is my sad duty to inform you that Dick Waters, beloved husband of our sister and Palmer Report researcher Wrenda Waters, died of Covid-19 after a long and heroic struggle. I did not know him other than by reputation, and it is my distinct privilege to inform you that his was the reputation of a good and honorable and decent human being. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.