Under very different circumstances, yesterday could have been Donald Trump’s coming-out party. He made the Fourth of July all about him. He forced the military to put on an authoritarian display at a civilian event that even the Generals publicly pushed back on. This is what dictators do, once they’ve managed to completely take over, and they want everyone to know it. The thing is, that’s not the position Trump is in at all.
Donald Trump, ever the narcissist, and an increasingly delusional one, may manage to convince himself that last night’s event is a sign that he’s taken over and that he now has absolute power. But back in the real world, every single sign points to the opposite. Trump’s approval rating is in the gutter. As things stand now, his odds of winning a second term are within a rounding error of zero. He never got his border wall, and he never will. His concentration camps didn’t remain secret like they were supposed to, which means he won’t get away with them.
In fact, while this guy has done an extraordinary amount of damage, he hasn’t “gotten away” with anything. He doesn’t have a clue how to keep himself in office after 2020, and he has a near-automatic prison sentence waiting for him back in New York the minute he’s no longer in office. His lifetime of financial fraud, including the fact that he’s always been broke and has never been anything close to a billionaire, is in the process of being exposed. Trump is being dismantled as we speak.
So what’s Donald Trump doing about it? What’s he doing to try to find a way into contention in the 2020 race? What’s he doing to try to fend off his prison sentence? What’s he doing to try to salvage a dying presidency? He’s throwing himself a parade that isn’t even really a parade. He’s at his absolute weakest point, with nowhere to go from here, and so he’s pretending he’s infallible and beloved. He’s wasting his time on nonsense at a time when he has precious little time left to figure out how to save himself. He’s not even trying to avoid his own dark fate; he’s just trying to convince himself it isn’t coming – and that may be the best thing America still has going for it.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report