Nothing becomes Donald Trump's presidency like his leaving it

Nothing becomes Donald Trump's presidency like his leaving it
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In "Too Much and Never Enough," Mary TrumpMary TrumpFormer Rep. Will Hurd announces book deal Mary Trump: All of Trump's adult children 'need to be shut out' of politics Attorney says she'll try to depose Trump in three cases after he leaves White House MORE, a clinical psychologist and niece of the president, described her uncle’s fundamental personality traits. Donald TrumpDonald TrumpSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Georgia secretary of state withholds support for 'reactionary' GOP voting bills MORE, she indicated, believes that lying, spinning, obfuscating and bullying are not only acceptable; they are a way of life. According to her, he believes only losers apologize or display vulnerability. Incapable of acknowledging — let alone empathizing with — the suffering of others, Trump, she says, meets all nine criteria for narcissism outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Donald Trump, she concluded, will never change.

That’s from a relative.

When it became clear that Joe BidenJoe BidenKlain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' Senators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Overnight Defense: New Senate Armed Services chairman talks Pentagon policy nominee, Afghanistan, more | Biden reads report on Khashoggi killing | Austin stresses vaccine safety in new video MORE had won the election, Mary Trump predicted that her uncle, the president, would not concede or cooperate in the activities associated with a peaceful transition of power. The “kind of person who thinks that even if you steal and cheat to win, you deserve to win,” she wrote, “he’ll be having meltdowns upon meltdowns.” He will “break stuff,” issue pardons “that will demoralize us” and do these things “with a vengeance.”


In his final months in the White House, Trump is fulfilling his niece’s prediction.

Trump has abandoned even the pretense of doing his job.

The president is spending his time tweeting and retweeting false and definitively debunked claims that the election was rigged; he’s reportedly considering schemes to retain power (including a declaration of martial law, seizing voting machines, rerunning the election, and persuading state legislatures or courts to overrule voters); he’s settling scores — and playing golf.

Trump has not met with his own coronavirus task force for months. He has made no public statements about the surge in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and fatalities. He has not urged Americans to wear masks, to practice social distancing or refrain from traveling during the holidays. He has not been vaccinated. When Vice President Pence, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, or Surgeon General Jerome AdamsJerome AdamsThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden argues for legislative patience, urgent action amid crisis Biden to name nurse as acting surgeon general: report Judge drops case against former surgeon general over alleged virus restrictions violation MORE was vaccinated, he did not appear to assure Americans that Pfizer or Moderna shots are safe and effective. He has been silent about distribution of the vaccine, acquisition of an adequate supply of doses and criteria for deciding who gets vaccinated first. 

The self-proclaimed master of the art of the deal, Trump did not play an active role in the protracted negotiations that led to a $900 billion bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill. After the House of Representatives and the Senate passed the legislation — and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinOn The Money: Schumer urges Democrats to stick together on .9T bill | Collins rules out GOP support for Biden relief plan | Powell fights inflation fears Mnuchin expected to launch investment fund seeking backing from Persian Gulf region: report Larry Kudlow debuts to big ratings on Fox Business Network MORE praised it — Trump called the bill a "disgrace." He demanded an increase (from $600 to $2,000) in payments to low- and middle-income Americans, an amount Democrats support and Republicans oppose. He blasted allocations for foreign aid, the Smithsonian and the Kennedy Center for Performing Acts (that were in the budget his administration sent to Congress) that are part of omnibus appropriations bill for government operations and the military and unconnected to COVID-19 relief. A veto (that is not overridden) or refusal to sign the bill will have devastating consequences for millions of Americans as well as result in a government shutdown beginning Dec. 29.


Following revelations of a massive hack on government agencies (including Homeland Security, Agriculture, Commerce, Energy and State), deemed a “grave risk” to national security and attributed to Russia by the CIA, the National Security Agency and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Trump sent a Welcome to Fantasy Island tweet: “The Cyber Hack is far greater on the Fake News Media than in actuality ... everything is well under control. Russia, Russia, Russia is the priority chant when anything happens because Lamestream is, for mostly financial reasons, petrified of discussing the possibility that it may be China (it may!). There could also have been a hit on our ridiculous voting machines during the election, which is now obvious that I won big.”

On Dec. 22, Trump issued 20 pardons and commutations, many of them to cronies and political allies.

Trump pardoned former Rep. Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsPresidential pardons need to go Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Pardon talk intensifies as Trump approaches final 24 hours in office MORE (R-N.Y.), the first House member to endorse Trump in 2016, who pled guilty to lying to the FBI and conspiring to commit securities fraud; former Rep. Duncan HunterDuncan HunterTrust, transparency, and tithing is not enough to sustain democracy Presidential pardons need to go Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon MORE (R-Calif.), another supporter, who (after blaming his wife) pleaded guilty to using hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds for personal expenses; and former Rep. Steve StockmanStephen (Steve) Ernest StockmanPardon talk intensifies as Trump approaches final 24 hours in office GOP senator on Trump pardons: 'It is legal, it is constitutional, but I think it's a misuse of the power' Nothing becomes Donald Trump's presidency like his leaving it MORE (R-Texas), who was convicted of fraud and money laundering.

On Dec. 23, Trump pardoned political operatives Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneDOJ investigating whether Alex Jones, Roger Stone played role in Jan. 6 riots: WaPo Nearly a quarter of Trump's Facebook posts in 2020 included misinformation: analysis Federal prosecutors investigated Proud Boys ties to Roger Stone in 2019 case: CNN MORE and Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortNew York court rules Manafort can't be prosecuted by Manhattan DA Would Trump have gotten away with a self-pardon? History will never know Trump's pardons harshly criticized by legal experts MORE as well as Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerBiden to speak with Saudi king 'soon' as pressure builds for Khashoggi report Biden to speak with Saudi king ahead of Khashoggi report: report Former Trump officials eye bids for political office MORE’s father. Former U.S. Attorney Chris ChristieChris ChristieCancun fallout threatens to deal lasting damage to Cruz On The Trail: The political perils of Snowmageddon Ex-Christie aide cleared by Supreme Court in 'Bridgegate' scandal running for local office MORE, who prosecuted the case, said the elder Kushner had committed “one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes I ever prosecuted.”

More pardons — quite possibly including “preemptive” ones —  are sure to come.

“The worst thing” for Donald Trump “is becoming irrelevant,” Mary Trump maintains.

To root for him to make America “grate” again, however, is to root against honesty, empathy and democracy.

Glenn C. Altschuler is the Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies at Cornell University. He is the co-author (with Stuart Blumin) of "Rude Republic: Americans and Their Politics in the Nineteenth Century."