WASHINGTON—Time and long-shot legal maneuvers for Donald J. Trump to hold on to the presidency have been all but exhausted, and now, silently, in seclusion, he is facing the reality that he lost his reelection bid to former Vice President Joe Biden.
With Michigan and Pennsylvania set to certify Mr. Biden’s victory in those states at Final Call press time, mathematically, no way remains for the incumbent to get the 270 Electoral College votes for him to remain in office after Jan. 20. He has rarely appeared in public, and he has been uncharacteristically silent since Nov. 3.
On average, Mr. Trump spoke 48 minutes on camera, every day in 2020, according to Bill Frischling, who operates Factbase, a website that tracks all of his speeches and comments. The Washington Post reports that from Election Day until Nov. 22, Mr. Trump spent a grand total of 50 minutes on camera, and he took no questions.
Mr. Trump has spent a lot of time on the golf course, “aggressively doing nothing,” according to one analyst, as the coronavirus pandemic has spiraled past 250,000 deaths here. “I think he’s making quite a show doing nothing,” Washington Post critic-at-large Robin Givhan told this writer concerning Mr. Trump’s now frequent golf outings.
“Most presidents’ role is presenting a public face of order and control and reassurance. And this president has really been on his own private sort of lockdown since the election. The most that we’ve really seen him has been on the golf course or through Twitter,” said Ms. Givhan.
As Mr. Trump and his legal challenges are literally laughed out of court after court, even by Trump-appointed judges—of 36 legal challenges filed, 26 of them have been dismissed at Final Call press time—observers are literally running out of words to describe the bedlam surrounding Mr. Trump’s behavior.
“Bonkers,” is how the Washington Post Fact Checker described the president’s behavior. The Guardian called him “slimy.” His legal team was led by former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani—who had not argued a case in court for three decades, in charge of the effort to overturn the election. Mr. Giuliani was committing “grotesque ineptitude and corruption,” a “national embarrassment,” former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, said.
The Trump strategy may have played well in front of television cameras and on conservative talk radio programs. But it has been a disaster in court, where judges uniformly rejected the claims of vote fraud and found the campaign’s legal work amateurish. In a ruling Nov. 21, U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann—a Republican in central Pennsylvania—compared the campaign’s legal arguments to “Frankenstein’s Monster,” concluding that Mr. Trump’s team offered only “speculative accusations,” not proof of rampant corruption, according to published reports.
Not a single court has agreed with the strength of any of his cases, but that did not stop Mr. Trump’s team from firing off nearly two dozen legal challenges to Mr. Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania alone.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, turned down the request for an injunction by the president’s campaign. In his ruling, Judge Brann said the Trump campaign presented “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations … unsupported by evidence.”
The Biden victory was in large part powered to victory in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia by Black voters, many of them concentrated in cities such as Detroit, Philadelphia, and Atlanta where he received a significant share of their support. In 2016, Mr. Trump carried those states over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Since Election Day, Mr. Trump and his allies have sought to expose so-called “voter fraud” that simply does not exist in these and other overwhelmingly Black population centers. Ironically, in the legal briefs filed by Mr. Giuliani, the Trump campaign only wanted the presidential election results set aside, not votes on those very same ballots for other offices.
Such a plainly racist strategy to contest the election could erode Black voters’ trust in the entire election process. Fears remain that Mr. Trump’s allies will undermine democracy and disenfranchise Blacks and other non-White voters. “I thought, these are the ultimate executioners, if you will, put in place so that quietly they could take what belongs to us,” Frank McGhee, who has spent more than two decades working with Detroit youth and educating them on the electoral process, told Detroit’s FOX2-TV.
Mr. Trump renewed his attack on Detroit voters Nov. 19, the same day he invited two Republican election certifiers to a White House meeting. He tweeted, without evidence, “Voter Fraud in Detroit is rampant, and has been for many years.”
There is one drastic solution for which there is still time—just as there was time to rush a Supreme Court justice and several, even unqualified right-wing judges onto the bench, according to one political observer. That is impeachment.
“Realistically, his efforts to sabotage the election and to use and pass false information should be impeachable,” Dr. Clarence Lusane, professor of political science at Howard University told The Final Call.
“Trump is creating a terrible precedent for the country, and then when you add in the racial dimension of it, I think there is absolutely a basis for them to call for his impeachment,” said Dr. Lusane.
Black voters who are now being targeted for disenfranchisement have been the margin of victory for every Democrat elected to the White House since John F. Kennedy, especially in the races won by Presidents Jimmy Carter in 1976; Bill Clinton in 1992; Barack Obama in 2008; and now Joe Biden.
But Black concerns—the Black Lives Matter movement, education, housing, employment equality, and clean water—are frequently the last to be addressed by the political mainstream.
“Well, the fact of the matter is that for the past four years, the only people who were bailed out would have been billionaires, and to someone like Mitch McConnell that is established, and he is very happy with it,” Dr. David Bositis, a statistician who monitors issues of concern to Black voters as well as the Congressional Black Caucus told The Final Call.
“Now, there are some policies that Biden can pursue, policies that African-Americans are going to appreciate in terms of health care and potentially in terms of jobs. But, unless the Democrats take the Senate, there’s not going to be a lot of correction.”
What that means, Dr. Bositis explained, is that Democrats must win both the contested runoff Senate elections in Georgia.
Once again, Black voters will have to go to the polls in unprecedented numbers on Jan. 5, when the Rev. Raphael Warnock, pastor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, challenges Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler; and Republican incumbent David Perdue tries to hold off Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff.
Otherwise Democratic legislative policies which might benefit Blacks, and even Mr. Biden’s appointees requiring Senate confirmation may be held hostage by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Meanwhile, Mr. Trump is seeing his efforts to steal the election thwarted, even as he saw a repudiation in the popular vote—nearly 80 million votes for Mr. Biden compared to 73 million for the sitting president. He is spending more and more time on the golf course, ignoring his duties, ignoring the spread of Covid-19.
“It’s a stereotype certainly, this idea of the well-fed guy on the golf course,” Ms. Givhan said, “but he really seems to have settled into that. Well, you know, the thing that I find sort of strange is that when you see these photographs of him on the golf course, even when he’s driving around in the golf cart, he does not look like a man who’s delighted to be there.
“He has the same sort of grim scowl on his face as he might have if he were engaged in something a lot less entertaining. And so, it doesn’t seem like he’s there for the pleasure of it, but it seems like he’s there because it’s a convenient place, it’s an easy place to, to avoid the reality of his responsibilities,” Ms. Givhan continued