The Deflation Of Trumpism Begins With Election Defeat
When Pennsylvania was called, the world heard a quick boom, followed by the pffffffffft of a deflating presidency. Suddenly, the angry, paranoiac tweets that used to scare so many because, after all, Donald Trump was president, lost their menace.
The air was escaping even before Joe Biden was declared winner. Come Thursday evening, ABC, CBS and NBC felt free to cut away from Trump's rant about voter fraud "stealing" his reelection. The Trumpian power to dominate coverage was clearly fading.
Just weeks ago, the pro-Trump New York Post was peddling a crazy story about incriminating emails on a laptop allegedly owned by Biden's son Hunter and left at a computer repair shop. The shop owner later said he was legally blind and not quite sure that the man who left the mystery laptop was actually Hunter Biden. One of the writers who composed the Post story refused to put his name on it.
As soon as Trump lost, the tabloid dropped him faster than a boring headline. It published an editorial urging Trump to "stop the 'stolen election' rhetoric." The Post no longer had use for him. Sayonara.
Despite it being over, Trump family members continue to send out several email appeals a day for money. "Contribute ANY AMOUNT IMMEDIATELY to stand with your favorite President and to DEFEND the integrity of our Election." Send $5. Send $20. The grift goes on.
Think there's not a personality cult here? My favorite email purportedly came from Eric Trump. "My father wants to see a list of Official Election Defense Fund donors TODAY," he wrote. "Will he see YOUR NAME?"
Imagine the glory of having the great man acknowledge your puny existence.
And what is the fate of Trumpism? Can someone else lasso the populist passions Trump ignited and run with them for political gain? Certainly not anyone we can identify today. The cultural resentments — not all lacking some basis — will endure. But not every ambitious politician can whip up the public the way Trump could. As Republican pollster Frank Luntz points out, Trumpism was built around a person, not a philosophy.
Trump actively helping other Republican candidates seems unlikely. He's not one to do things for others.
Trump did have a genuine talent for oratory, for entertaining in the keep-repeating-the-line Vegas style. It sometimes sounded funny even when it wasn't. He was a genius at making himself the center of national conversation, prodding the public with electric shocks of outrageous claims whenever minds wandered elsewhere.
Ivanka, Don Jr. and Eric have none of that flair. As much as the Trump fandom tried to weave fantasies of a Trump family dynasty, the kids are quite ordinary.
The big parade float that was Donald Trump cannot be reinflated in four years. For one thing, he's now a loser. Whereas others can overcome loss, Trump has crafted his whole mythology around some magical power to win. And in the cognitive department, he hasn't been aging well.
Trump will soon have to deal with his troubled real estate empire. He owes over $400 million, which comes due soon, and several properties are failing. The only business he made serious money in was show business, and his TV phenomenon, The Apprentice, is done.
Then there are his legal problems, notably investigations into possible tax fraud of major-league dimensions. And wait till his former advisers turn themselves loose with their memoirs. Suffice it to say, Trump will have distractions in the months and years to come.
Face it: This one-man show is about to close. If, as they say, journalism is the first draft of history, it's time for the second draft. Historians, take it away.
Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.