By the time I hit the "Publish" button on this post, orange man bad will have miraculously turned into orange man gone. I've made no secret of my view over the past four years the Donald Trump was a man uniquely unsuited to the presidency.
An egotistical narcissist, Trump couldn't help himself when challenged on anything. He would lash out like a petulant child, usually on Twitter, and too often make a bad situation worse. "But he fights!" his devoted faithful would exclaim. Not all battles are worth fighting, and Trump seldom demonstrated that he understood that. Every slight, real or perceived, had to be answered.
Most politicians develop relatively thick skins quickly, if they're going to stay politicians for long. You can't go ballistic every time you encounter a political foe or a jab from a member of the media (the only industry extensively populated by the thin-skinned). But Trump never possessed that trait.
When you've made your name for yourself in recent years by saying "You're Fired!" you can become conditioned to believing that some form of that tagline is the solution to what vexes you. He demanded a level of loyalty to himself from his executive branch appointees, but never reciprocated.
Trump often behaved like a wannabe tyrant, but, thank God, was never focused enough to follow through. He was also often thwarted by the more conventional Republicans around him.
The areas where Trump did some political good for conservative positions were the ones he outsourced to others. Supreme Court justices Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, and Neil Gorsuch—although "But, Gorsuch!" lost a little luster after that horrendous Bostock decision—are poised to, at a minimum, rein in judicial lawmaking and hopefully eventually reversing some of the Supreme Court's worst excesses.
Trump gets credit only inasmuch that he listened to the Federalist Society on making his selections. Despite the fractured nature of the GOP post-Trump, there is unanimity among Republican senators that they will not gamble Supreme Court picks on lawyers without a reasonably well-known, public track record demonstrating their conservative philosophy.
The other positives are the diplomatic gains in the Middle East under the supervision of…Jared Kushner?! Trump finally did what presidents of both parties have promised to do for decades, but which always ended up unfulfilled when they left office: He moved the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
And what followed in that part of the world should prompt all the foreign policy wonks both in and out of government to seriously reconsider every one of their previous, strongly held and argued, beliefs about the political dynamics of the Middle East.
Arab countries started signing peace deals with Israel. The United Arab Emirates, Morrocco, Bahrain and Sudan. As a reminder, this is what we've been dealing with among the smart set for decades:
Listen to this & laugh at just how wrong the foreign policy establishment can be. ? pic.twitter.com/eQGNNSVVjB
— Stacey (@ScotsFyre) October 24, 2020
But sadly, these will most likely become little more than footnotes because…
Let's start with this.
Was there voter fraud in the 2020 election? Yes. There's voter fraud in every election. Hell, California practically made it legal.
Were election laws broken? Yes. Certainly. By some people somewhere.
Did partisan judges in several states make changes to the election laws and exercise power that was explicitly given to state legislatures by the constitution? Yes.
Did more legal voters cast ballots and vote for Trump rather than Joe Biden? No. Not even in those contested battleground states. Trump lost the electoral college, and that's the only thing that matters.
The level of conspiracy thinking required to believe that tens of thousands of votes were created, altered, lost, found or destroyed in strategic states and strategic precincts in order to deprive his Orangeness of the presidency is roughly equivalent to believing that the Russians changed votes to get Trump elected in the first place or that President George W. Bush was behind the 9/11 attacks.
To paraphrase NFL coach Dennis Green: "He was who we thought he was."
Trump is wealthy and famous enough to create an alternate reality for himself as an ultimate winner because he has surrounded himself with "Yes" men and treated to adoring coverage by many mainstream media idiots (read: Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, also CNN boss Jeff Zucker) who were hungry for the ratings boosts like Rep. Jerry Nadler at a Golden Corral.
At least, that was 2016. While the mainstream media idiots quickly reverted to type, Trump never was able to come to grips with the fact that the White House wasn't semi-scripted reality television.
The reality that Trump lost the election was one he never was psychologically equipped to deal with. This should come as no surprise when he insisted that even his 2016 win was tainted by a loss in the meaningless popular vote count.
So, he behaved horribly for two months. He harangued elected GOP leaders in battleground states, he filed lawsuits (which is his right) without any basis in fact (which is when you don't file lawsuits), and generally made an ass of himself.
And then came the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Trump hosted a rally within walking distance of the Capitol and told those assembled that the election was being stolen. He told them he'd walk down there with them and urged them to "fight like hell" to overturn the election, and "[y]ou'll never take back the country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong."
Yes. I understand that this did not meet the legal definition of incitement. However, it was an easily foreseeable result if you have more than two brain cells to rub together.
Are we at all surprised by what happened in the immediate aftermath? Five dead, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick.
Trump never cared about policy. He never cared about the Republican Party. He certainly never cared about the country.
In the weeks leading up to the Jan. 5 runoff Senate elections in Georgia, Trump used his now-defunct Twitter account numerous times to attack other public officials and spread unfounded allegations of election-changing voter fraud. He bashed the entire November election process as bogus. The fix was in.
And this helps get your supporters out in Georgia to vote for the GOP incumbents? Trump's bluster certainly encouraged Georgia Democrats to get to the polls.
And that megaphone that was your damn Twitter account? Used zero times to praise Kelly Loeffler or David Perdue. Used zero times to attack Jon Ossoff or Ralph Warnock.
Georgia. Georgia elected a Marxist, pro-Castro, pro-Jeremiah Wright guy who was arrested for interfering with a child abuse investigation. Georgia.
Can someone overdub this and change "practice" to "Georgia?"
In service of his ego, Trump has made Sen. Joe Manchin the most important person in the federal government. If Manchin caves on expanding the Supreme Court, or doing away with the legislative filibuster, then even Trump's meager accomplishments are for naught.
What the future of the GOP is post-Trump is difficult to discern right now. Some politicians (looking at you Sen. Ted Cruz) have tried to walk a tightrope in recent weeks hoping to hold onto Trump's avid base while not scaring away more sober-minded conservatives. I'm not sure that's the way hold the party together.
Though I'm no longer a registered Republican, I think Rep. Liz Cheney had it right when she voted to impeach Trump over his post-election behavior. She may end up paying a price for that in bright red Wyoming.
In the end, the GOP is still the only place for a conservative voter. It'd just be nice if they are able to not be Trump-crazy.