We have Anthony Scaramucci to thank for putting the current trope in orbit, that Donald Trump will resign sometime between now and the 2020 election, certainly by March. Dare we guess the Ides of March? That proposition would be made more delectable, if true, were it to include the simultaneous resignation of Mike Pence, triggering a Nancy Pelosi interim caretaker presidency. All rhapsodies of hopeful fantasy aside, I remain unconvinced.
Aren’t we forgetting something? Of all the multitudinous Trump diagnoses kicking around in the political stratosphere these days, for my money the one known by the DSM V as “malignant narcissist” is the one that chimes with the truest ringtone. Do I have to remind everyone that in order for a narcissist to resign he needs a reason? While there exist, and have existed since the very beginning, innumerable reasons for Donald Trump to resign, not one of them is necessary nor sufficient for Donald Trump. He doesn’t see reality the same we we do. That is to say, he doesn’t see reality at all.
But wait a minute, you might say, isn’t this the same guy who filed for bankruptcy six times? Yes it is, but filing for bankruptcy is quite a different matter from resigning the presidency. Besides which, one can still declare oneself a winner even after filing for bankruptcy. If you doubt that check out the history of CEOs who have done just that and walked away with, say, $20 million sticking out of their back pockets. The only president to ever resign the presidency most emphatically did not emerge a winner. Richard Nixon’s presidency will forever be joined at the hip with his resignation-in-disgrace. Donald Trump’s reputation as a “smart businessman” remained undiminished going into the 2016 election, notwithstanding his bankruptcies.
Trump is more hooked on the presidency than he is on adderall. His endless cycle of Nuremberg-style rallies, ego-stroking state occasions, military obsequies, endless press coverage, drooling, fawning, sycophantish devotees, deferences paid by world leaders, genuflecting members of the press, the smart salutes of Marine guards as he boards Marine One enroute to Air Force One, all of that is the narcissist’s dream. And it would all go away in a single application of his stroke-victim EEG readout of a signature.
For that to happen, Trump would need a reason to resign, and I cannot think of any. The question, “What if he is forced to resign?” is unhelpful. I cannot imagine a scenario where that could be true. You can’t point a gun at the president of the United States and order him to sign a letter of resignation. Even if you could it would not be legally binding. Besides, there is nothing in the Constitution that declares a president’s powers remain other than undiminished, no matter how much trouble he may be in with the press, the economy or the American people. And since the idiotic, ersatz decision that you cannot indict a sitting president has been given new wings of late by Robert Mueller, it would appear that the one place Donald Trump is safest is behind the double door of the presidency and his own evidence-free self-evaluation of greatness.
Do not pin your hopes on a Trump resignation. It’s a foolish dream that probably will never happen. If it does, wonderful. But we need to be realistic. There’s a monster in the White House, and all the wishful thinking in the world won’t make him go away any time soon.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.