After those five frantic, all-capped words, there’s a note from Twitter that “Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process,” and if you “click to learn more” you are directed to the company’s “civic integrity policy,” which opens with: “You may not use Twitter’s services for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes.” (If you instead click “view” to see the tweet Trump’s quoting, it’s a plugged-up rabbit hole about supposed election fraud, leading to a tweet quote-tweeting another, since removed, tweet.)
Twitter probably could have blocked about 73.6 percent of Trump’s tweets from the last four years under this policy, but it put the hammer down now, and it put it down now for the same reason that Mitch McConnell and Chris Christie and Scott Walker and others are starting to jump ship. A very simple and straightforward reason that apparently almost everybody, to my surprised relief, endorses: You have to count the votes.
We’ve spent five years asking this question over and over and over: What is it going to take for Republicans to say enough? He called Mexicans rapists. He said a judge of Mexican heritage would have no conceivable reason to rule against Trump except his heritage. He spoke of “Second Amendment people” stopping Hillary Clinton. He fired the FBI director over the Russia investigation and admitted it. He committed an open-and-shut impeachable offense in his perfect phone call. He’s committed a dozen forms of what Republicans would call treason if a Democrat had done it, and every time Republicans shrugged: He was joking. He didn’t mean it. What he did was fine. What he did was great. This is a Democrat plot.
For five degrading years, the answer to the above question was basically never—the Republicans will never say enough. But finally, in the bottom of the ninth with two out and the bases empty and the home team down by a dozen runs as the fans (at least the ones wearing masks) headed for the parking lot, we have an answer: It will take Donald Trump, seemingly losing if the votes are counted, saying that votes in a democracy should not be counted.
This was no sure thing. And it still isn’t—we don’t yet know for certain, for example, that Republican state legislators in one of these states Trump loses by 20,000 votes won’t try to put forward a pro-Trump slate of electors. We aren’t out of those woods until the electors meet on December 14. In fact, we’re not out of these woods until we see Joe Biden say “so help me God” at 12:01 p.m. next January 20 and bump John Roberts’ elbow.
But the writing is on the wall. Trump’s lost McConnell, who must figure that he’s bled all he can out of that stone. He’s lost Christie, one of his most reliably feckless lickspittles. He’s lost Walker, whose tweet Wednesday was simple and devastating:
And most tellingly of all, he’s losing Fox News, or at least that portion of it that wants to pretend it’s still a news channel. It was such a delight to hear those Trumpies chanting “Fox News Sucks!” outside the Maricopa County elections center. Just like it was delicious to see Eric Trump and Rudy Giuliani hold that Hail Mary press conference in Philadelphia, Rudy flailing around and charging without any actual evidence that ballots could be fraudulent for this, this, and that reason.
As an old New York political reporter, I was almost touched to hear him invoke the name of John “Shut It Down” Sweeney, apparently Rudy’s top lieutenant in ferreting out this endless “Democrat” corruption. The former upstate New York congressman became widely known as the instigator of the infamous Brooks Brothers Riot in Miami-Dade in 2000; he’s less well-known, except to longtime Tomasky readers, as the guy who the following January had a minor but never-fully-explained auto accident near an upstate ski resort that took down power lines so that skiers were literally abandoned in midair in ski lifts.
All these lawsuits to challenge the vote, as the Beast has reported, probably don’t amount to much. And of course they kind of undercut their own case when their argument is stop the counting in Pennsylvania and Georgia because ballots may be corrupted but in Arizona they’re above suspicion and absolutely must be counted.
And Trump himself—locked away in the White House (dare I ask, the basement?), unmoored from his adoring crowds, needy ego unfed by the sight of those maskless thousands chanting to lock some heretical malfeasant or the other up, oddly and uncharacteristically not making IRL public statements—is like some mad king from an ancient Persian fairy tale who has lived a life of loucheness and lucre to which his court has unfailingly responded with sycophantic platitudes like “yes, your excellency” and “that’s brilliant, your excellency,” but who took things one fatal step too far and now sees the walls closing in.
It was repulsive enough to see him on Election Night use the East Room of the White House, where Franklin Roosevelt once lay in state, to make a statement that was not only political but borderline treasonous to our values. Since then, he’s become angry and wounded and befuddled by it all, confused enough by the laws of morality and gravity suddenly applying to him so as to tweet: “WHAT IS THIS ALL ABOUT?”