Donald Trump refuses to concede to Joe Biden. The worst word in Trump’s vocabulary is “loser,” and he’s not about to admit the word applies to him.
But Trump’s temper tantrums and lies about election fraud may be having the opposite effect of what he intends. He’s making himself irrelevant.
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Trump’s whole schtick was to make everything about him, flooding the zone with nonsense in an effort to make the media cover him. And for a long time, it worked like a charm. Every tweet, every offhand remark became fodder for endless analysis, moving the focus to whatever Trump wanted to float.
But since the election night, Trump has had to face a new reality. He’s a lame duck, and lame ducks just aren’t that interesting.
Moreover, Trump has chosen to remain largely out of sight at the urging of his advisors. Their thinking is that the legal challenges, which judges are throwing out with barely concealed contempt, should be front and center right now.
The problem is that Trump’s absence allows everyone else to start assuming we’re in a post-Trump era, where Trump isn’t the focus of everything. By staying out of sight, Trump is actually facilitating the feeling that the country is moving on from him.
The same is true of Trump’s endless Twitter tirades, the majority of which are slapped with warnings from Twitter. The mainstream media no longer feels the need to track all of them, unless Trump screws up and accidentally acknowledges he lost.
At some point, Trump’s narcissism will require him to appear in public again, but he’s already set himself up as beside the point. Even if his flurry of threatened executive orders and regulation changes come to pass, Biden will be able to undo many of them.
In fact, the media’s attention will no longer be on Trump. It will be on Biden — his cabinet choices, his political strategy, his transition plans.
None of this is to say that Trump will go the way of Sarah Palin. The president is in dire financial straits, and he will need to gin up some new venture to stave off the $400+ million in debt that he has personally guaranteed and that comes due in the next several years. Maybe it will be a new Trump news cable channel.
Whatever it is, though, Trump will never have the same clout as he did while president. He will always have his hardcore followers, and he will remain an outsized influence in the Republican party. But just how much of an influence remains to be seen.
In the meantime, Trump has entered the forgotten-but-not-gone phase of his presidency. He only has himself to thank for it.