Trump retires. Biden gets sick. Pence is fired. What if 2020 goes really crazy?

A high temperature and a dry cough.

You don’t have to get too ghoulish or think too much about this. It is just a statement of the obvious that if Trump or Biden were their elderly parents in the midst of a pandemic, it is likely that it will require them to stay home and avoid any unnecessary human contact. I wouldn’t urge people approaching the average life expectancy of American men (78.5 years) to run for president, even if they were careful about wearing masks (as Biden apparently is, and evidently Trump isn’t).

A rough transition

We must keep in mind that none of the Washington veterans we spoke with are seriously contemplating a constitutional crisis in which Trump is contesting the elections and refusing to leave power, despite the fact that this scenario is sometimes invoked on social media. and in other places.

But multiple sources find it plausible that if Trump loses, he could belittle the results as tainted by fraud or other irregularities. A former White House official who worked closely with Trump said: “That will be his raison d’être and for the rest of his life, we will never hear anything other than ‘was stolen.’ … He cannot admit that he lost, so how it will be comforted or justified is that it was stolen. “

A setting to take a close look at whether Trump decides to quit or lose the race: his use of the power of forgiveness to isolate allies and family members from any post-presidency legal evidence. A point of constitutional ambiguity: can a president forgive himself?

George Conway, husband of White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and who often publicly attacks Trump, predicted that if Trump loses he will skip the opening ceremonies: “I can’t imagine him attending the inauguration of Joe Biden because it would be the ultimate humiliation for him ” He prefers to blame other people, to claim that his elections were stolen, but he is [departing voluntarily] because he is a good boy [but in protest] he will not attend the inauguration. “

Trump triples

In a sense, this is the wild stage already underway. Under pressure, Trump relies on rhetorical issues that have worked for him before, only making him even stronger. His comments on July 4 denouncing a “new extreme left fascism,” and tweeting Monday calling for NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag, are illustrative.

In some ways, his reelection fights offer us a glimpse of an unknown Trump. A business partner who worked with Trump during the bankruptcies of the early 1990s said his firm never let anyone see him sweat.

“He would have been looking for the nearest building to jump into, and he remained optimistic the entire time,” said Steve Bollenbach, a lender-ordered financial fixer who helped Trump avoid personal bankruptcy and lasting business humiliation, he told the biographer. by Trump Tim O’Brien “I never suspected he missed a moment of sleep.”

That memory is quite different from the image of Trump returning from a disappointing crowd at last month’s rally in Tulsa Okla., When he was photographed without a tie, slumped and demoralized, when he left Marine One.

And POLITICO’s Michael Kruse has written that Trump generally goes back to old patterns, particularly the fighting spirit he learned from Joseph McCarthy’s lawyer and protégé Roy Cohn. “Divert and distract,” Kruse summed up, “never give up, never admit guilt, lies and attacks, lies and attacks, advertising no matter what, you win no matter what, all underpinned by a deep belief in proving myself wrong. Power of chaos and fear. “

That could be an interesting second half of 2020.