Donald Trump’s aides tried their best to explain to The Daily Beast’s Asawin Suebsaeng that POTUS really does have an agenda for a second term, but, as the headline says, his real reason is fear of becoming a one-term loser.
He doesn’t want to accomplish much of anything as a matter of policy. There is a war going on in what passes for Trump’s soul, and because he’s such a needy, turbulent 5-year-old whose life is a nonstop freak show, we are all inevitably sucked into that war, which is this: He wants to win, but he doesn’t want any of the responsibilities that actually come with being president.
He wants to win the election, that much is clear, because to him far more than most people, life is about winning, and if you’re an incumbent president and you lose re-election, you will be remembered as an all-time loser. No getting around that. Jimmy Carter—loser. George H.W. Bush—loser. There are more important reasons to want to see Joe Biden crush Trump in November, but very high on my list will be the joy of knowing that Donald John Trump will go down in history as a huge loser, especially if he gets trounced.
He also wants to win because as long as he’s president, he can’t be criminally prosecuted for anything. That’s surely his main motivation for winning. He knows the law is closing in from any number of directions. The Oval Office is one big insurance card against the multiple indictments that await him in a just world.
But he doesn’t actually want to be the president. Well, check that. He likes being called Mr. President. He loves people being obsequious to him. He seems to be OK with the White House, which he once regarded as a dump. He probably gets a mild kick out of knowing stuff that only presidents get to know, like Putin’s cellphone number and where the UFOs are kept. And of course he loves the power and the way he abuses it, which if we had a real Republican Party in Congress that was actually doing its job would have gotten him impeached and booted from office long ago.
But governing? He obviously hates it. Somewhere inside that cacophonous brain of his, he knows he sucks at it. I mean, he has to, right? He can’t possibly really think, for instance, that he’s handled the pandemic well. I’m not saying he feels bad. Most normal humans, who have consciences, would be laying awake every night going, “How in God’s name could I have said in late February that we had 15 cases and soon it would be zero? I’m going to go down in history as a total nutjob.”
Trump has no conscience of course, so I doubt he thinks that. Still, awareness of his complete inadequacy at every single aspect of this job must barge its way into his mind every so often. He shoos it away after a couple pesky seconds, but he knows. He wouldn’t have to yap incessantly about how great he is (“nobody’s ever done a better job than I’m doing as president,” he actually said that one, and he’s said many things like it) if he didn’t know deep down.
This is part of the reason he has no agenda. I mean, those aides who talked to Swin will cobble together something. They absolutely have to in light of that 62-IQ word salad Trump threw at Sean Hannity about his second-term priorities. But he doesn’t want to accomplish anything on behalf of the American people. And remember, he’s not alone on that. Republicans in general don’t want to do anything for the American people.
They had the presidency and GOP control of both houses of Congress for two years, and what did they pass? One thing. A tax cut. That’s the entire legislative agenda of the Republican Party. If they had anything else they wanted to do, well, they had two years to do it! Infrastructure—everybody talks about Trump and infrastructure. Why didn’t they do it in those two years? I think that particular failure falls more on Mitch McConnell than on Trump, because Mitch doesn’t want the government doing anything for anybody ever, whereas Trump merely doesn’t give a shit one way or the other. But even so, if Trump had wanted it, really wanted it, McConnell would have done it.
Trump is such an idiot that way that it’s just brain-melting. He wanted to win re-election? All he had to do, pre-pandemic, was be somewhat less of an asshole and pass an infrastructure bill. He’d have been cruising. Then, when the pandemic hit, all he had to do was try. He just needed to take it seriously in January and pretend he cared about something besides his ratings when 2,500 people were dying every day.
Which brings us to our final paradox. He wants to win, because to him, life is just one nonstop dick contest. But some dark and moldy part of him wants to lose, because he sure hasn’t acted like a guy who wants to win. Ignoring the virus; withdrawing federal money for testing; and now, making one last stab at taking away Obamacare—at a time when millions of Americans are losing their jobs and hence their employer-sponsored health insurance—are not the actions of a man who wants to win. They’re the actions of a tortured, unstable person whose mind is in a state of being constantly ravaged by warring emotions.
So that’s the war, and we have 17 weeks of it to endure. It will be amusing at times. But mostly it will be painful to watch, as he screams lies and fascist slogans to half-empty halls with millions of those little coronavirus balls dancing around in the fetid atmosphere, sensing that he’s headed for humiliating defeat, determined to burn the country down before he goes.