There was one thing that even Donald Trump’s harshest critics could never accuse him of: invisibility.
The outgoing US president held endless campaign rallies, argued verbally with reporters on the way to his helicopter, and spent so much time on the phone for Fox News shows that even meek presenters hang gently but firmly. He was the master at saturating each news cycle with his voice and image.
Yet two weeks after his defeat to Joe Biden in the election, Trump is effectively gone. missing in action. Day after day passes without a public sighting. He no longer gives press conferences. He has even stopped calling out the conservative media.
For critics, it is evidence of monumental anger as Trump contemplates his impending loss of power and departure from the White House. In his opinion, it is also an astonishing abrogation of responsibility since the coronavirus pandemic surge to new highs, infecting more than 158,000 Americans and killing more than 1,100 every day.
Amid the deafening silence, Trump’s only “proof of life” since Biden’s victory has been a handful of public events at the White House and a military cemetery, weekend outings to his golf course in Virginia, and a barrage of tweets that convey grievances and promote a baseless conspiracy. theories that the election was stolen from him.
“I don’t think we’ve had a president since Richard Nixon who is as far in the bunker and out of the country as Donald Trump is right now,” he said. Larry Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Policy and Governance at the University of Minnesota.
“Donald Trump has not only suffered a catastrophic political defeat, it is clear that he is also suffering a deep emotional breakdown. This behavior is even more erratic than usual and has been retired. It has been put into a form of psychological isolation. His emotional state is clearly abysmal. In the popular lexicon, he has lost it. “
Trump’s hermit status has proven irresistible to foreign comedians, historians and commentators. He has been compared to a tyrant in a fragile democracy locked in a presidential palace and planning an internal coup or a sudden flight across the border. Late-night TV host Stephen Colbert commented: “Well, the story has a happy ending for autocrats who lose and then retreat to their bunker.”
Michael Beschloss, a presidential historian, has used Twitter to post images of Howard Hughes, a billionaire who spent his last years kidnapped in dark hotel rooms, and Norma Desmond, an aging Hollywood star in the movie Sunset Boulevard. noticing that she “She spent hour after hour in the dark, watching movies of herself in the glory days, before her decline and fall.”
Beschloss also posted an entire series of tweets citing Citizen Kane, Orson Welles’ classic film about a media mogul whose political ambitions collapse in scandal. In one image, Kane’s newspaper bears the front page headline: “Fraud at the polls!” In another, Kane is trashing a room at Xanadu, his luxury estate in South Florida. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property is also in South Florida.
But on a more serious note Beschloss, author of books like Presidents of War and Presidential Courage, this week posed a question: “When before in history have we seen a president of the United States disappear from public view like this?”
Trump allegedly spends mornings in the residence of the White House bingeing on television. Then he goes down to the Oval Office in the afternoon, moving between it and an adjoining dining room that has a large television. He stays there into the night, consulting with lawyers in increasingly desperate efforts to reverse the election, even as Biden approaches a record 80 million votes.
However, the lonely president has not been entirely inactive. He fired his defense secretary and top election cybersecurity official, announced a troop reduction in Afghanistan and Iraq, and even reportedly discussed a possible military strike against Iran.
Kayleigh McEnany, White House Press Secretary, told Fox News without apparent irony: “The president is working hard, he’s working hard on Covid, among other things, reducing our number of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, bringing our men and women home.”
The coronavirus has spread across the country in recent weeks with a growing number of cases and hospitalizations and a world record for deaths of a quarter of a million. Trump, however, continued to hold election campaign rallies, ridiculed infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci and empowered adviser Scott Atlas, an outspoken critic of science-based public health measures.
Jacobs commented: “Here’s the captain of the ship who is missing, and the ship is really leaning badly to the side, taking in water as more and more people get sick and die. Not only is the president absent from office, he is fomenting a riot. There is no precedent in American history for this kind of unhinged behavior. “
Ronald Brownstein, CNN Senior Political Analyst, tweeted Thursday: “1,869 deaths in one day on the way to Thanksgiving. And the president, without a single complaint from his party, has gone AWOL, abandoning his responsibility to protect the country and leaving those in his charge to fend for themselves. What would happen to any military commander?
For many observers, Trump’s withdrawal is the overriding instinct of a sore loser. Biographers have recounted how he was raised by his father to be a “murderer” and regard losing as a sign of inexcusable weakness. The family attended a church whose pastor, Norman Vincent Peale, wrote the bestseller The power of positive thinking with the advice to “indelibly stamp on your mind a mental image of yourself as a winner.”
Trump cannot bear to be defeated, so he is “focused 24/7” on recasting himself as a victim before a possible 2024 comeback, he suggested. Gwenda Blair, author of The Trumps. “It’s that kind of increased Norman Vincent Peale positive thinking power: hold onto an image of yourself as successful, never let it go. Not only has he done that, but he’s absolutely built it his entire life. In his mind, he has never failed at anything and why should he start now? “
“He always had dad to bail him out before and his ability to bend reality has been validated for him over and over and over again. He survived six corporate bankruptcies, two divorces and each time he bent reality to be able to affirm that many people accepted that he was a success. The most successful unsuccessful guy ever. “
This time around, the result for America is a whiplash sensation: from all Trump all the time to a president who is conspicuous by his absence, denying reality even as a rostrum is erected in front of the White House for viewers to see the Biden’s inaugural show. Your obstruction of an orderly transition could hinder the pandemic response, they endanger national security and cause lasting damage to democracy.
Michael Steele, senior adviser to the anti-Trump group Lincoln Project and former chairman of the Republican National Committee, said: “Trump is a smug little boy who doesn’t get his way and doesn’t get his way, so he doesn’t want to be in public and does not want to play anymore. He wants to take his toys and go hide somewhere or create mischief in another way. “
Trump’s recent military shakeup was an attempt to distract from the cold truth of his defeat, Steele added. “He doesn’t want to be reminded of that. You’ll want to act and sound like you’re in charge. Well, it isn’t. He is the dumbest of the lame ducks and at this point as a country we just have to control ourselves and acknowledge that, as other bodies within our government are trying to do, and move on. “
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.