This ain't the intro, it's the entrée.
Happy New Year to all my habibis. Elisabeth and I had two weeks off and we both feel great. While I was off, I had the time to write this big, dumb, stupid swan song for the Trump Administration. Share it if you can/are willing to risk being attacked by the MAGA crowd.
I envisioned this as a shorter Jackal, but can we talk about the phone call? It is just too nuts for words. Probably the most alarming thing for me is how convinced Trump sounds of his own B.S. Pat Robertson, of all people, had a pretty astute observation of Trump a couple weeks ago: He said Trump doesn’t really lie because Trump simply creates his own reality and then lives in it. In other words, he lies and lies and lies and then believes his own lies are the truth. I’m sure there is some psychological diagnosis for that, but it’s pretty on point.
He is deeply convinced of his own victory, even though he began the 2020 campaign sowing doubt about the validity of mail-in ballots, which everyone predicted he would use as an excuse not to concede. But in the phone call he seems even further gone than I think most people would have guessed.
I’ll never forget something Timothy O’Brien said about Trump during the 2016 campaign. It was just after Trump made a veiled suggestion that someone should assassinate Hillary Clinton. He said that it was not a threat, but it was something Trump did when he felt cornered. Whenever he feels like he is about to lose, he lashes out and gets more and more extreme. During an interview on the subject with Don Lemon, O’Brien said:
It's not that it's just a pattern, it's that he's been doing this for about a part of 40 years which is he plays with sensationalist issues, he appeals to bigotry, he appeals to violence and he walks, right, he walks -- in a lot of scenario, the fact are -- and he walks things right up to that point and then he'll deny them later.
O’Brien knows Trump best because Trump sued O’Brien, who was then able to get into Trump’s records via discovery. A lot of what we know about Trump’s financials is thanks to O’Brien and his team choosing to fight Trump in court (he also wrote a fantastic book about Trump but you don’t really need to read it because Trump is about to exit stage left from our lives forever).
Anyway, the point is that Trump is flailing in every direction possible, and because he is a narcissist who cannot lose, there is nothing he won’t do to stay in office. Does that mean he will be successful? Of course not. But is it possible he will amplify white supremacists/Proud Boys/violent Gator Moms on Wednesday as they attempt to #stopthesteal? Of course he will.
O’Brien also had a fun tweet in 2016 that is relevant to this discussion:
Speaking of Wednesday, a lot of people are hyped up about whether or not Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and a host of other Republicans will be successful in their own attempts to #stopthesteal. The long and short of it is: Absolutely not. If you want an explainer, I will do a quick one, but if you don’t skip to the next line.
The main question is can a State’s slate of electors be rejected by the Congress? The short answer to that question is yes, but it is impossible in the current scenario. The rules say clearly that if there is an objection raised by a Congressman (say Matt Gaetz) and it is then endorsed by a sitting Senator (say Josh Hawley), then the House and the Senate debate for two hours about whether or not to “sustain” the objection and toss out the State’s electors. To have that happen you need a majority in both the House and the Senate. Since the House is controlled by the Democrats and they will not vote to throw out Pennsylvania, Georgia, or any other State’s electors, then that’s the ball game. But it’s also worth noting that a clear majority of the Senate has also said that they will not endorse the objections. The worst case scenario? The Nutcase Caucus in the House and Senate delay the certification of the election by about five days, if they object to every state and debate for two hours each (I think the math works out).
I know: What happens if they are somehow able to delay it all the way to January 21st, past the point where Biden is supposed to be sworn in? The answer is in the Constitution: Donald Trump and Mike Pence both resign on January 20th, and the Speaker of the House becomes the president. So, it is a bonkers scheme that even at its highest possible level of success would result in President Pelosi. All in all, Cruz and Hawley look like fools, especially after Trump’s disastrous phone call with the Georgia(n?) State officials. True brain galaxy thinking.
What’s gonna happen on Tuesday??? Off the bat: I am still in a fight with polls, so I am not citing them. My gut feeling tells me that given this election has had a heavier focus on it than pretty much any other special election in recent history, that drives turnout and it should help the Republicans win. It is possible that in a weird, midterm environment where Donald Trump is the president and Democrats are fired up and Republicans are a little sleepy, the Democrats pull out wins in both seats. But it’s hard for me to see right now. However, Nate Cohn has been monitoring early vote totals and thinks things look pretty good for Dems. And it’s always possible that Trump crying about voter fraud and rigged elections will depress GOP turnout, as we discussed here a couple months ago. In the words of Wyclef Jean: Say what, say what; anything can happen.
Have a great week everyone, and let’s take on 2021 as if we were a shaved Lion that looks like Mario Batali.