18 November 2020
The Walk of Shame
by J R Thomas
It might be as well to begin by pointing out that Donald is still President of the United States and will be so until 20th January 2021. That’s another two months, folks, so those who constantly call for him to walk, head bowed, out of the White House need to brush up a bit on their basic constitution. Those who worry about his finger on that button, you’ve got two months under the bed to look forward to. Meanwhile, the President is spending time on the golf course and with his lawyers, but slowly he does seem to be coming to the view that he lost. Expect him to go, though perhaps not gracefully or quietly.
Certainly, Mr Trump is not so far cooperating with President-elect Biden’s transition team of officials, who would like to hit the ground running. Or in fact, stay at home not running. Rumours are that their immediate intents are to limit gatherings to a maximum of ten persons by federal law (currently the rules are determined at state level, which is kind of how federal government works) and enforce the wearing of face masks on the same basis. As The Donald has been resolutely opposed to this, it is not altogether astonishing that he is doing nothing to hasten it along. Transition from one administration to another has in recent years mostly gone smoothly and politely, though it has not always been so; the defeated President Hoover refused to speak to the incoming President Roosevelt, and in a more famous, if understandable, example, the incoming President Lincoln refused to have anything to do with the departing President Buchanan, who indeed was supporting the secession of various southern states, in the lead-up to the outbreak of the Civil War a few weeks later, on April 12th 1861. Not a great start to any President’s term of office.
Not one, incidentally, that should be expected next January. Joe is living up to his image as the great conciliator and is calming things down, and no doubt has Georgia on his mind. Not so much the manual recount of the presidential votes that is currently going on there, but on the Senatorial election in Georgia to be rerun in January next year. Georgia has some unusual rules on electoral success, meaning in effect that if nobody gets over 50% then there must be a run-off (Libertarian candidates prevented outright wins by either Democrats or Republicans). The state authorities have found 2,500 votes that somehow got omitted from the first count, and they are apparently two thirds Trump votes. Not that will make any difference as Mr Biden’s lead was about 14,000 votes on election day. Mr Trump’s lawyers are also looking at signature verification on some postal votes which has thrown up anomalies but again, not enough to give the GOP the state’s electoral college votes; and even if they did swing the state Donald’s way, that still gives Joe overall victory.
Georgia is a Republican state, at least in recent years, but the media think the Democrats have the advantage this time, noting Mr Biden’s (narrow) win there. Maybe; but maybe not; the GOP often do best in runoffs and are throwing many dollars at this contest. (Put it this way, nobody will be overlooking 2,500 fifty dollar bills left in a corner somewhere.) If they win, they control the Senate and the Biden/Harris programme will be very considerably stymied. If they lose, then the Senate is deadlocked 50 seats to 50, and Vice-President Harris will have a casting vote. That will not make life that much easier for the Democrats; there are numerous ways to use a deadlocked Senate to prevent things happening, and party loyalty is not that great – Senators can be very independently minded and have, especially the older members, a natural conservatism and constitutionalism. That would almost certainly mean that, for instance, increasing the size of the Supreme Court to overcome its current conservative majority would not get through. Wise Republicans may at this point be hoping that however the Donald concedes, he does it in a way that helps his party in Georgia.
So will Mr Trump go gracefully sometime soon? That would not be in the nature of a man who is at heart a street fighting bruiser, and whose business record is not that he gives up lightly. But the truth must be visible even to Donald: he cannot win and even if there has been a little electoral chicanery (and as we have said here before, nowadays it is a rare thing), nobody can seriously imagine that it has been on a scale that would reverse the result. The key state in that scenario is Pennsylvania, which Joe won by 72,000 votes. That is way beyond any fraudulent possibilities. Note though, that Jo Jorgensen, the Libertarian candidate, managed 79,000 votes, so those of us given to idle speculation can brood on where those votes would have gone had she not run in the Keystone State. Not for Joe Biden, we suspect.
But let us set an example to President Grump, and move smoothly on. To 2024, when all this must be done again. We can hazard a guess that the most likely contender for the Democrats will be Ms Kamala Harris. Though this is not guaranteed. The Biden/Harris effort was a pretty poor one and was a near run thing on the day. The Democrats ought to be looking very closely at why they did badly and failed to win back so many traditional supporters, including their further loss of support from both black and Hispanic voters. If their answer is to move further to the left, that could leave a very open field to the Republicans.
The big question, at least in his own mind, is will Donald Trump run again? He has been teasing that that is a foregone conclusion and that he will be back as a WINNER in 2024. But he will be 78 then, and whilst his health, stamina, and energy are impressive, will he really want to be in the Oval Office into his eighties? Wouldn’t starting his own media company be more fun? Or running his own chat show on Trump TV, perchance. More to the point, will the Republicans want him back? These two old men have produced a record turnout, it is true, but more because of an urge to reject the opposition than any inspiration of fine rhetoric and soaring dreams.
Here the media is once again causing confusion. The current story is that Mr Trump has an iron fist around the neck of the Republican Party and that he can direct its affairs into and beyond the next presidential contest. It is certainly true that everybody is being very polite to the outgoing President at the moment – not least, you might suspect, in case, however unlikely, he keeps his current job. But Mr Trump has little control over the party; American political parties do not really work like that, the system of open conventions and primaries for so many elective posts keeping them very fluid. Put your money on (comparative) youth in 2024, perhaps on Ted Cruz, or Nikki Haley, or Ron De Santis. Or some Governor you have not yet heard of but doing a great job, or an unfamiliar Senator even now on the first draft of her book of mid ‘20’s dreams.