Clarence Page: What if Trump loses in 2020 but doesn't leave?
In a historic change of mind, President Donald Trump has found a reason to support reparations — for President Donald Trump.
The president retweeted this bright and, oh, yes, unconstitutional idea on Sunday after Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, proposed that Trump deserved an additional two years in office to make up for the time allegedly lost in the Russia investigation.
I have a counterproposal. I think the president should leave office two years early — as in, right now — to make up for the “executive time” that he reportedly has spent golfing, visiting his personal properties and watching “Fox & Friends” instead of keeping up with his daily intelligence briefings.
Just kidding. Falwell was just kidding, too, I am told. Trump? I’m not so sure.
“Despite the tremendous success that I have had as President,” Trump tweeted Sunday, “including perhaps the greatest ECONOMY and most successful first two years of any President in history, they have stolen two years of my (our) presidency (Collusion Delusion) that we will never be able to get back….
“The Witch Hunt is over but we will never forget. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
Could this be a sign that the president doesn’t expect to win four more years in office by the normal constitutional route?
As Trump’s and Falwell’s tweets went out, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was warning in a weekend New York Times interview that, even if the president fails to be re-elected in 2020, he won’t want to leave — especially if he loses by a narrow margin.
The party needs to “inoculate against that,” she said, by not only winning but winning “big” enough to convince Trump to step aside voluntarily, as every other sitting president has.
Pelosi didn’t sound like she was kidding at all. Similar fears that Trump would “poison the public mind” and “challenge each of the races,” motivated her in last year’s midterms, she said. In the end, Democrats picked up a net gain of 40 seats, their biggest gain in the House since the historic post-Watergate wave election of 1974.
She’s not the first to speculate about a Trump who won’t go away. When comedian Bill Maher floated that notion last year on his HBO program, not as a joke but as a serious concern, my personal reaction was, hey, don’t give him any ideas.
Yet Trump has said more than a little to feed the notion himself. In his final 2016 presidential debate with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, less than a month before Election Day, Trump promised to “totally accept” the election results, “if I win.”
Since he did win the Electoral College, Trump’s threat went away. But he went on to complain anyway, tweeting blame on some sort of a ghost-voting conspiracy for allegedly robbing him of the popular vote, “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”
“In many places the same person in California votes many times,” Trump said at the official White House event in West Virginia on tax cuts in April 2018. “They always like to say, ‘Oh that’s a conspiracy theory.’ It’s not a conspiracy theory.” Again, he offered no evidence to back up that claim.
Speaking at a fundraiser for the National Republican Congressional Committee in April, Trump cast suspicion on the close elections that Democrats won in 2018. “There’s something going on,” he said, telling his audience that they needed to “be a little bit more paranoid than you are, OK?” Again, he offered no proof to back that up.
And, requiring no proof are the jokes Trump has casually dropped about somehow extending his constitutional term in office. “Well, this is really beautiful,” he said, accepting a gift from the Wounded Warrior Project in April. “This will find a permanent place, at least for six years, in the Oval Office. Is that OK? I was going to joke, General, and say at least for 10 or 14 years, but we would cause bedlam if I said that, so we’ll say six.”
Right. I, too, have an award for the president. It’s a copy of a fine old song by Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks: “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away?”
It’s got a good beat and he can dance to it.
Email Clarence Page at email@example.com.
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