Every post about the ongoing count in Pennsylvania should begin with a reminder that Republicans wanted it this way.

We could have had a clean result last night in which the same-day vote and the mail ballots were all reported together. Republicans didn’t want that because they feared it would show a clear — if close — Joe Biden victory. So they forced election officials to wait until Election Day to start counting mail ballots, knowing full well that Trump would start screaming that he was being cheated as Biden began to gain on him in the day-after count.

And sure enough:

I don’t use this word lightly: This is evil behavior. They’re going to try to stop valid votes from being counted with no thought whatsoever for the civic consequences. If they fail, the country will be ungovernable. Some huge chunk of Trump fans, egged on relentlessly by the (ex-)president, will cling to the myth that Biden won in a fraudulent way so that they needn’t acknowledge that he’s the legitimate president. If on the other hand they succeed, the country will be ungovernable. Cutting off the counting of lawful ballots to engineer a second Trump term will be viewed as a coup, nothing more or less.

A normal human being would weigh all that and think, “If doing this would tear America apart no matter how it turns out then we shouldn’t do it. There’s no value in having a second term when the entirety of it would be devoted to managing the fallout from that.” But a pathological narcissist doesn’t care about that. He cares about winning, whatever it means for the country he’s in charge of.

Declaring victory before the votes are counted isn’t what you do when you think you’ll win and fair square. It’s what you do when you think you’re about to lose:

Maybe Biden should offer Trump a deal: We’ll agree to stop the counting in all states if you like. In that case…

Needless to say, it would be immoral to stop counting people’s lawful votes for any reason. I don’t think Team Biden would ever make a deal like that, even if they benefited from it. Team Trump would, without a shadow of a doubt.

In addition to being evil, this con job is also making things awkward for Trump’s allies, and as it escalates it’s only going to get more awkward. If Biden wins Pennsylvania, every elected Republican will have to take a “side” on whether they think he’s been elected legitimately or not, which is guaranteed to hurt them no matter how they answer. Meanwhile, as others have noted, Trump is potentially hurting his cause in court just in case a litigable grievance really does arise.

First up was Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor who actually served as a witness for Trump during his impeachment trial late last year. After lending some credence to the legal challenges that the Trump administration has been threatening, Turley pushed back against the president’s claims that he has somehow already won the election.

“He’s got to tamp down the rhetoric,” Turley told Fox anchor Sandra Smith. “That’s only going to alienate courts, it’s going to inflame people on both sides. He did not win these states last night. These states are still in play. There are ballots that will be counted.”…

Even before the election was “as thermonuclear as it is at the moment,” [Andy] McCarthy said the Supreme Court “did not want any part of this case.”

“And I believe that what the president said last night is going to play into the hands of the faction of the Court that would rather say, ‘Let’s sit back and let this play out and it may turn out that when all the dust settles, maybe we don’t have to make a ruling here.’” he added.

By pushing an obviously bogus cheating claim that draws a ton of public pushback, Trump’s going to leave courts more reluctant to rule his way on any legitimate ballot claim that might arise. They don’t want to look like partisan hacks or co-conspirators in a blatant attempt to get valid votes thrown out because the president can’t bear the thought of losing a popularity contest. He’s hurting himself here, just like he hurt himself with his COVID pollyanna-ism for so many months. If he had behaved just a tiny bit more like a relatable human on that, he might have PA, MI, and WI in his pocket already.

Here’s where this is headed, with Trump’s full endorsement. This is in Michigan, not Pennsylvania, but just wait.

Just as I’m writing this, CNN and other outlets are projecting that Biden has won Michigan. Others watching the returns in that state say the writing has been on the wall for hours. That’s probably why Team Trump is pulling this “we won Pennsylvania” gambit. They’ve run out of other Rust Belt battlegrounds. They need a comeback in Arizona, they need to win Pennsylvania, and they need to hold Georgia. And that state is a little wobbly too:

Remember that if Biden pulls the upset in Georgia, he won’t need Pennsylvania or Arizona. That’s the ballgame. Stay tuned.

Here’s Biden speaking this afternoon, taking care to say that he’s *not* declaring victory but expects to be the winner once the counting is done. Team Trump could have taken that position too. Why didn’t it?

Update: Not an honorable bone in his body. I’m embarrassed for the country and for the GOP.