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Donald Trump Seems to Have Given Up. That Should Terrify Us

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | July 31, 2020 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | July 31, 2020 |


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Last week, during his first Coronavirus briefing in months, Donald Trump encouraged the use of a mask, and soberly suggested that things would get worse before they get better (he was right), and even cancelled the Florida portion of the Republican National Convention, although he also inexplicably wished Ghislaine Maxwell well. It seemed, for an hour anyway, that Trump might have actually started to give a damn about his reelection because, of late, the President is not really doing the things that a President should be doing three months ahead of an election.

I’m not saying that Trump has completely given up — it’s hard to do the things one normally would three months ahead of an election during a pandemic — but he seems defeated. A couple of weeks ago, he even said that Joe Biden “is going to be president because some people don’t love me.” Two days ago, lamenting his plunging polls numbers, especially in relation to Dr. Fauci, Trump said at a news conference, “nobody likes me. It can only be my personality, that’s all.”

In addition to all the self-pity, there’s a weird amount of inaction going on for a President running for reelection in the midst of the nation’s worst crisis in generations. The GDP dropped 32 percent in the second quarter, and enhanced unemployment benefits — the thing that has kept this economy somewhat intact over the last four months — run out today, and there is absolutely no sense of urgency on the President’s part to stop the economy from going over the cliff. The Senate has gone home for the week, and the President has just kind of shrugged. He doesn’t even seem to be involved in the negotiations.

The Trump campaign has something like $250 million in the bank, and with only three months to go, Trump is pausing his advertising spend, reportedly so that the campaign can regroup and reset, like it was supposed to do in Tulsa, and then again at Mr. Rushmore. Trump’s only message, at the moment, seems to be using racism to try and scare suburban moms — you know, like the wall of moms that have come out to protect protestors in Portland.

It’s like Donald Trump thinks that all he has to do is appeal to Ken and Karen to win the election. The man is low energy. He’s devoting more time to bragging about passing a test designed to detect dementia than he is even in attacking his opponent, Joe Biden, who is winning by default. All of this seems like the Trumpian equivalent of George H.W. Bush checking his watch during a debate against Bill Clinton, a sort of, “I’m over this” attitude.

All of this can only mean one thing: Donald Trump is going to put all of his eggs in the cheating basket. He’s going to spend the next three months attacking the election that he is losing, as he tries to delegitimize mail-in voting and draw a distinction between it the “absentee voting” that he and nearly everyone in his campaign does (there is no difference).

His hope is to not only undermine those mail-in ballots, but to decimate the post office, making those ballots less likely to make it in by election day. Trump hopes that, by winning on election day before the ballots from sensible people who can vote by mail roll in, he can declare victory and nullify results that come in via the post office, which is currently experiencing days-long backlogs of mail across the country. Why? Because a top Trump donor has been put in charge of the post office, and he has implemented new procedures that include “prohibiting overtime pay, shutting down sorting machines early and requiring letter carriers to leave mail behind when necessary to avoid extra trips or late delivery on routes.” The result is a two-day delay of the mail in many parts of the country, even for express mail.

What can we do about it? I have no idea, honestly. Draw attention to it? Most of all: If you plan to vote by mail, order your ballot as soon as possible, and return it the day after you receive it. Get them in early, and hopefully more states will start counting ballots before election day so that most mail-in ballots will be counted in election night tallies.

(With three months before the election, I am reverting to our 2017 trick of replacing all Trump headers with those of Kate Beckinsale, who is completely unrelated but far more aesthetically pleasing than Trump’s visage. Welcome back, Kate!)


Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.


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