Trump: Now in the final act of King Lear

Trump: Now in the final act of King Lear

So here we finally are, said Jonathan Chait in NYMag.com, at the “Führerbunker” stage of the Trump presidency. The New York Times and Axios.com are reporting that President Trump is alarming even his closest aides as he unravels and rages in the final days of his presidency, bitterly denouncing erstwhile allies like Mitch McConnell and Bill Barr while listening to the “toadies” who continue to indulge “his delusions that he can still overturn the election.” At a four-hour Oval Office meeting last week, Trump huddled with unhinged loyalists Rudy Giuliani, lawyer Sidney Powell, and former national security adviser Michael Flynn and seriously discussed Flynn’s plan for Trump to declare martial law in key swing states and have the military “re-run” the election. This proposal for a fullblown coup triggered a loud argument with saner aides like White House counsel Pat Cipollone, but Trump continued to talk about appointing the widely mocked conspiracy theorist Powell as a special counsel to “investigate” voter fraud. These insane ideas “may not be implemented,” said Max Boot in The Washington Post. But the fact that a defeated president used the Oval Office to discuss staging a military coup “marks a new low.” Even after everything he’s put us through, Trump “saved the worst for last.”

There’s no need for “alarmism,” said David Greenberg in The Washington Post. Thanks to the resilience of our “democratic institutions”—the courts, state election officials, the Electoral College—Trump has “no moves left to play.” His discussion of martial law was a “temper tantrum,” not a serious attempt at a coup. There are some things a president shouldn’t even discuss, said Byron York in WashingtonExaminer.com, and “having the military intervene in a U.S. election” is high on that list. But Trump often says outrageous things, and he’s “shown repeatedly that his talk is just talk.”

“It’s not surprising that Trump would disgrace himself after an election loss,” said Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru in NationalReview.com. His refusal to accept bad news has been a defining feature of his administration. What is more alarming is how many elected Republicans have “held their tongues even when the president began to actively and explicitly seek to overturn an election result not to his liking.” By enabling Trump’s attack on democracy itself, they’ve set “a terrible precedent for future elections,” especially close ones. Trump’s King Lear–like “descent into madness” was predictable, said Peter Wehner in TheAtlantic.com. But the fact that 18 Republican attorneys general and 126 House members signed on to a doomed lawsuit to overturn the election demonstrates that Trump has “turned his party into an instrument of illiberalism and nihilism.”

Trump’s cultlike base truly believes “the lie of the stolen election,” said Rosie Gray in BuzzFeedNews.com. These tens of millions of Americans live in “a parallel universe” of separate facts and conspiracy theories, with a separate media ecosystem that feeds their paranoia and anger. Talk to people at any Trump rally—some of them armed—and you’ll hear earnest predictions of violence, secession, and civil war. First, though, we have to worry about the next three weeks, said Jack Holmes in Esquire.com. A “degenerate narcissist” still commands our military and the awesome powers of the presidency until Jan. 20, and he has made it clear he will seek maximum vengeance before he’s forced to leave. What “deranged and dangerous stunt” will Trump pull next?

 

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