David A. Graham: The totalizing logic of Trump
Since Election Day, Trump has focused on just two things: playing golf, and trying to claim victory in his contest against the Democratic president-elect, Joe Biden. With rare exceptions, such as the annual Thanksgiving turkey pardon, his schedule has been empty nearly every day.
Of the two goals, he has been markedly more successful in the first pursuit. His election-related efforts are sputtering: Trump has watched while state after state certifies election wins for Biden. He has watched as dozens of judges have punted long-shot lawsuits out of court. He watched as dye ran down Rudy Giuliani’s face in a news conference that was somehow both jaw-droppingly insane and jaw-clenchingly dull. Having exhausted nearly every option, the Trump legal effort has now resorted to recycling old, failed gambits. With the Electoral College meeting on December 14, the end is in sight.
The relevant description of Trump’s role is “watching.” The president has long been an obsessive TV viewer, but without a campaign to run and with no events on his schedule, there is less to distract him from the tube—and his gripes about Fox News and praise for the network’s smaller rivals, Newsmax and One America News. (Trump still knows where the audiences are, though, which is why he gave his first postelection interview, on Sunday, to Fox’s Maria Bartiromo; and Fox knows where its interests lie, which is why Bartiromo’s interview was embarrassingly deferential.)
Timothy Noah: The Trump you’ve yet to meet
For a time after the election, Trump was unusually quiet on Twitter. He is now back to feeding his followers a steady diet of false and misleading claims about the election results, though it is difficult to tell whether he really believes his claims, is just processing his grief, is simply taking advantage of a lucrative fundraising opportunity, or some combination thereof. Regardless, the president doesn’t appear to be taking any concrete actions to try to stop Biden’s inevitable inauguration beyond sending tweets and campaign emails.
That inaction is in keeping with how Trump has governed throughout his tenure. He never really wanted to do the hard work of the presidency, but was interested in the pomp of the office and the chance to be pundit in chief. As he enters the lame-duck period, only the punditry remains.
“The restaurant business is being absolutely decimated. Congress should step up and help. Time is of the essence!” he tweeted Friday night. Other than perhaps Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Trump has more power to make this happen than anyone else in the country—but rather than actually try to twist arms and force action on Capitol Hill, he’s just firing off scattered thoughts. (Maybe GOP senators will just ignore him. The refusal of many Republicans to publicly acknowledge Biden’s win and tell Trump to knock it off shows that they are still cowed by him, but their decision to mostly ignore his complaints demonstrates his shrinking muscle.)