This is the funniest tweet of his career, although it must be that he meant it seriously. He can’t be doing absurdist jokes about his own “rigged election” allegations, right?
There are a few signs today besides Trump’s tweet that the White House may be starting to resign itself to reality. The campaign’s voter-fraud hotline, which was pranked mercilessly by lefties, is reportedly shutting down:
— Ben Siegel (@bensiegel) November 13, 2020
The plan for Trump to hold post-election rallies where he’d push voter-fraud propaganda may also be rethought:
2/ “… but I think there is growing understanding that there are money and execution issues. The campaign is trying to raise money for the legal fight and rallies cost a lot and don’t make any money,” the official says.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) November 13, 2020
There are other considerations involved in holding rallies. One is the near-term effect those events might have on the runoffs in Georgia, both financially (by drawing away resources) and politically. A “Republican close to Trump” said this week to Politico, “I’ve told the campaign his only priority should be holding onto the Senate. Frankly, he is losing credibility the more and more we have this fraudulent ballot fight.” They want him down in GA campaigning for David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler if only to signal to Republican voters that yes, they should turn out to vote on January 5 even though, ah, the president thinks the last vote in Georgia was rigged. Republicans may also be worried that the time is approaching — in theory — where they’ll have to start acknowledging that Biden is the president-elect, which will infuriate Trumpers in Georgia and elsewhere. Once that happens, the only person capable of bringing them back on the team and getting them to show up for Perdue and Loeffler is Trump himself.
The longer-term risk for Trump and the party is how a protracted “I was cheated” campaign might affect perceptions of him and the GOP if it plays out beyond the next few weeks and takes a coup-like turn, with the White House asking state legislatures to void their election results on fraud grounds. I made this point a few days ago but it’s worth repeating: The more destabilized the country is by this transition process, the less likely swing voters will be to roll the dice on a second Trump term in 2024. The best thing he can do for his chances then is to be cooperative now. And maybe he will be, sort of:
Just had heartfelt phone call w friend @realDonaldTrump who said he's a "realist" who'll do the"right thing" But he wants to see "what states do in terms of certifiction (etc)" He sounded committed to fighting for every vote & if he loses, talking more about all he's accomplished
— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) November 13, 2020
Even if he exits *relatively* quietly, though, he won’t be quiet for long. That’s another risk to the party. What if Trump remains so omnipresent in politics that he becomes a factor in the midterms, a moment when the out-party wants all the focus on the sitting president?
If Trump is campaigning, tweeting and generally just being himself, he’ll interject himself into the spotlight because ultimately that’s where he’s most comfortable and because the news media has been unable to ignore him since 2012. That might excite the GOP base, but it could also remind independent voters why they voted against him and excite Democratic voters. Trump’s trail of tweets and actions could also command attention and force Republicans to answer for him, even though he’s not in office.
At a minimum, a Trump presidential candidacy would be a distraction, but it could devolve into a liability for Republicans. It could come at an inopportune time considering a strong 2020 performance has put House Republicans well within striking distance of a majority, if the midterms are anything close to normal.
There’s not much the GOP can do about that, and in any case it’s several years away. What they can do right now is nudge voters to accept the election results, and gradually more of them are doing it:
“Sure,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican, said when asked if she considers Biden “president-elect.”
While Capito says there’s a “process” for legal challenges, she added that she hoped the process would resolve itself quickly — “inside a week or so.”
“It looks like a difficult mountain for the President,” she said of his legal case…
“I think it’s a very narrow road,” Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, a member of the Senate GOP leadership, said when asked about Trump’s chances at reversing the election’s outcome.
Sen. Kevin Cramer also told CNN that GSA should start the transition process for Biden. A “top Republican source” singled out the dates for certifying the elections in Georgia (November 20) and Arizona (November 30) as the moments of truth, believing that Trump would *probably* concede — or rather, accept that Biden will be inaugurated on January 20 — if his legal challenges fail to stop the certification. But Trump is an avid consumer of populist media and there’ll be lots of claptrap on those outlets with certification looming that he should try to get electors awarded to him by swing states notwithstanding the results of the elections there. If he’s serious about 2024, he’ll ignore that noise. But maybe he won’t be able to help himself, in which case all bets are off.
I’ll leave you with this as a gloss on the sorry state of our poor, divided, benighted country. Imagine Trump’s reaction when he sees the results!