President Trump is right in saying that the 2020 election was rife with voter fraud. I think he is quite likely right, although no one knows for sure, in alleging that absent fraud he would have been re-elected. But his conduct has nevertheless become indefensible.
I don’t have a problem with senators like Ted Cruz voting against accepting the report of the Electoral College, which will lead to debates among Senators and Representatives about voter fraud. Still, for the reasons articulated by Tom Cotton, were I a senator I would vote to accept the certified tallies. And the ultimate result is a foregone conclusion: Joe Biden will be our next president. Some of the theories now floating around, e.g. that Mike Pence magically has the right to declare the next president–a superpower hidden somewhere in the Constitution, until now–are delusional.
At this point, it is blindingly obvious that Trump has no pathway to victory. To the extent that Democrats committed or enabled voter fraud, they have done so successfully. There never was a plausible way to challenge the certified results in any state in the 60+ days between the election and the inauguration. Whether fraud occurred, sufficient to reverse an apparent result in any state, is a complicated question of fact that would require months, if not years, to litigate fairly.
Battles in support of election integrity needed to be fought in advance of the election, not afterward, when it is too late. But the Trump campaign, for some unfathomable reason, was seemingly unprepared for the foreseeable prevalence of voter fraud. Even when the election was over, Trump scrambled to put together a legal team. To the embarrassment of us all, his legal effort was apparently led by Rudy Giuliani, Sydney Powell and the evidently non compos mentis Lin Wood, although in truth the campaign couldn’t even keep straight who its lawyers were. The result was a fiasco.
Trump’s post-election comments have become increasingly unhinged. I won’t cite chapter and verse–the tweets are too numerous–but will just note this one, issued an hour or so ago:
I hope the Democrats, and even more importantly, the weak and ineffective RINO section of the Republican Party, are looking at the thousands of people pouring into D.C. They won’t stand for a landslide election victory to be stolen. @senatemajldr @JohnCornyn @SenJohnThune
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2021
To say that Trump’s comments are incoherent is to be too deferential. What on God’s green Earth is his point? His backers “won’t stand for” the election to be stolen? (As has been alleged, but not proved.) So what are they going to do about it? Start a revolution? Fight in the streets? This is insanity, lending credence to the Democrats’ most bizarre fantasies about having to drag Trump out of the White House–fantasies that I, for one, am almost beginning to take seriously.
In Donald Trump’s dwindling world, canny conservatives like Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn, and staunch conservatives like John Thune and Tom Cotton–I am not sure how Cotton escaped being hashtagged on Trump’s tweet–are “RINOs.” I dislike that term in general, but applying it to the senators in question means that Trump is in a boat by himself, or with a handful like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley who are willing to fight a futile rear-guard action on his behalf before bailing out.
In my opinion, Donald Trump has been an excellent president, easily the best since Ronald Reagan. I have voted for him twice and supported him, once he got the nomination in 2016, through thick and thin. But his recent irrational conduct has undermined his legacy and, sadly, has given credence to the attacks that Democrats have levied against him, almost always unfairly, since he announced for the Republican nomination.
The sad reality is that our president has gone off the rails. The best thing he can do from now until January 20 is nothing. No speeches, no tweets. Fights over election integrity are critically important and will continue for years to come, but for now, Trump’s irrationality is making those fights harder to win, not easier. Mr. President: Give it up. Please.