But there’s a great deal that really does need doing. The pandemic is the most obvious example, but Anthony Fauci said on Sunday that the president hasn’t attended a meeting of the White House Coronavirus Task Force for “several months.” Trump was slow to acknowledge the seriousness of the pandemic, because he worried that it would imperil his reelection. The conclusion of the election could free him from those concerns, except that Trump hasn’t admitted that the election is over.
The president could also focus on persuading Congress to pass some sort of economic-relief bill to mitigate the damage caused by the virus. Businesses are failing, state and local governments are going broke, and 12 million Americans could soon lose unemployment assistance. The federal government is also funded only into next month. The president could have more effectively worked to solve these problems before the election, when he had more political muscle to use on recalcitrant Republican senators, but any effort now would be better late than never. For Trump to want to do this, though, he’d have to care about the condition of his fellow Americans, especially those who didn’t vote for him, and he’s shown little evidence that he does.
Setting aside national priorities, Trump could also be making partisan moves. He could concentrate his efforts on helping the Republican Party maintain its hold on two Senate seats in Georgia, for which there are runoffs in January. The Trump-friendly conservative columnist Byron York reports that Republicans in Congress want to see the president doing more in those races. “Republicans from Mitch McConnell down are telling Trump he has the opportunity to leave the Republican Party in a stronger position in Washington than any GOP president since Ronald Reagan,” York writes. But Trump doesn’t really care about the institutional Republican Party; all he cares about is himself. (York notes the one talking point that could sway Trump: It’d be a good way to screw over Biden, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.)