The president has embarked on a half-hearted attempt at disputing the election, filing a flurry of lawsuits and toying with the idea of holding rallies. But he shows few signs of putting real effort into it, and spent the weekend practicing his putts, not fomenting a putsch.
A few Republicans congratulated Biden, notably George W. Bush and Jeb Bush, and Senators Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski, as well as some former elected GOP officials. (All of them have been either critical of Trump or pointed in their silence about him.) A few others have embraced the president’s bogus fraud claims, including Senators Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz, a handful of governors, and some representatives. Trump has also retained support from the conservative media, which are indulging his complaints. (Fox News’ non-opinion journalists, though, were relatively quick and decisive in calling the race for Biden.)
That leaves the rest of the party, including most current elected Republicans, sitting on their hands and hoping no one pays them much notice. Roy Blunt of Missouri, a top Senate Republican, did not quite measure up to his surname during an appearance on ABC’s This Week, in which he emphasized the importance of the election process and said it was “time for the president to turn this discussion over to his lawyers, time for the lawyers to make the case that they have, both in court and to the American people, and then we’re going to have to deal with those facts as they’re presented.” But he stopped short of following those facts to their obvious conclusion or calling Biden the president-elect.
David A. Graham: The damage of Trump’s voter-fraud allegations can’t be undone
One prominent Republican who initially endorsed Trump’s fraud claims tried to hedge a bit, perhaps realizing he’d headed down a blind alley. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy suggested on Fox that there was chicanery in the process, then claimed he’d only meant that Trump’s presence on the ticket had helped House Republicans. (No, that explanation doesn’t make sense to me either.)
The White House, including the president himself, has been uncharacteristically reticent. Trump has mostly limited himself to tweeting video clips of sympathetic commentators. His aides are either unwilling or unable to talk him into delivering a concession speech.The New York Times reported: “Several Trump advisers said that while they now wanted to give the president space to process the loss, they were exhausted after four years of tumult, and were eager for clarity about what would come next.” This is embarrassing, and it is more fodder for Daniel Drezner’s wise observation that staffers treat the president like a petulant toddler, but it also hints at the acknowledgment among many of Trump’s aides that it’s just a matter of time before it’s over.