So Donald Trump signed the relief bill. I guess someone finally convinced him that whatever he was up to (thinking he had leverage to make Congress not approve Joe Biden's electoral votes on Jan. 6?) was insane. So he's been talked down from wrecking America.
But he still appears to be intent on wrecking his party, as it seems obvious now that Trump wants the Republicans to lose those two Senate elections in Georgia, which is kind of a remarkable thing, because it's for the smallest and most pathetic reasons you could imagine.
Trump is a 5-year-old, and everything with him is 5-year-old simple. Caveman simple. And while he can probably think about something other than himself for up to four minutes and 52 seconds, in those next crucial eight seconds his brain will realize in horror that he’s gone badly off course and he will be seized by a panic that will abate only when his thoughts settle back on the only topic that really matters to him, himself.
Thus, he can’t think about the Republican Party, or the Senate under a Biden presidency, or anything of the sort. All he can think about is how Georgia affects him. And I think it’s obvious that he’ll be much happier if David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler lose, for three reasons, all of them having solely to do with his ego and vanity.
Reason one: He wants to screw Mitch McConnell. There’s nothing complicated or tactical about this. McConnell acknowledged that Joe Biden won the election. Therefore he must suffer. Boom. Caveman simple.
Reason two is even more petty: If he lost Georgia—which of course he didn’t, everybody knows he won by a massive landslide, OK? He was just betrayed by a RINO governor and secretary of state who are very weak people—but just saying for the sake of argument that if he lost Georgia, he sure as hell doesn’t want two inferior creatures like Perdue and Loeffler to win there, because after all they’d be nobodies without him, he totally made their careers.
Finally, reason three carries us deep into the rubble- and pumice-strewn landscape of the Trumpian psyche: He wants to see how true his people really are to him. He wants to test his shoot-someone-on-Fifth Avenue boast. He wants to know: If he makes these two Republicans lose, or at least contributes to their defeat by refusing to sign the relief bill that they both voted for and have been running around Georgia bragging about, will his base still adore him? It’s a loyalty test for his people, in other words, of the sort that all fascists demand of the herrenvolk from time to time.
These leaders pace their lairs in a state of near-constant suspicion that the people aren’t worthy of their nonpareil leadership. So they establish tests. It’s my guess that the Trump out-years, once they start, will be replete with such tests. And you know what? He’s probably right. They won’t blame him. They’ll love him all the more. Like those soybean farmers who got slammed by Trump’s China policy but voted for him in bigger numbers this time than in 2016.
Trump doesn’t care who runs the Senate if he’s not president. To the extent that he’s capable of a little strategery, he may well be thinking that he’d rather the Democrats have the run of the place in 2021 and 2022, and maybe even into the two years after that. They’ll be easier to run against. Or so he thinks, because he assumes that if Democrats control Congress and the White House, America will have descended into socialist hell by 2024.
It wouldn’t occur to him that by 2024 under Democratic control, American could also be a place with a pandemic well in the rear-view mirror, an economy back to normal, a higher minimum wage, expanded health care, many thousands employed in a large infrastructure program, a president who acts the way people expect a president to act, and so forth.
But all that is far away and hard to predict. What’s here and now is The Last (For the Time Being) Crack-Up of King Donald. What he’s been doing has been mildly amusing insofar as it’s become so much easier to watch him make an ass of himself now that we know he’ll soon be out the door. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that his dithering on signing this bill has been unspeakably cruel.
Americans are suffering and going broke and dying, and Trump is down in Florida in an over-the-top palace eating $80 steaks and playing golf. George W. Bush wasn’t my cup of tea, but at least he had the self-awareness to know that, after he’d sent Americans off to fight and die in a war, playing a game associated with private country clubs and $300 greens fees wasn’t a good look.
Trump doesn’t care. Again, it’s so Third World. I think it was Zaire’s Mobutu who defended his pelf by saying the people wanted—nay, demanded—to see that their leader lived in luxury. They all think it. And Trump thinks exactly like them. Golfing while people are being evicted? It’s just another loyalty test.
Perdue and Loeffler could still win. And while Trump’s behavior is disgraceful, at least it carries the upside of putting them, and McConnell, through torture. They’ve spent years inviting it.