President Donald Trump will leave Washington in 43 days. Trumpism, however, isn’t going anywhere.
Republicans who value their political careers — or their own safety — are finding it impossible to publicly admit the obvious fact that President-elect Joe Biden won the election by millions of votes. Georgia US Senate candidate Kelly Loeffler repeatedly dodged the question at a Sunday debate, following Trump’s false claims the previous night of a stolen election. In a Washington Post survey, only 27 of 249 Republican federal lawmakers acknowledged Biden’s win.
Local officials, many of them Republicans who nevertheless confirmed Biden’s state victories, have shown far more courage and integrity than Washington leaders. But the denialism comes with potential danger. An armed pro-Trump group showed up at the house of a senior Democratic official involved in certifying results in Michigan. And a Republican official in Georgia who helped certify the results there has publicly warned that the President’s rhetoric will get somebody killed. Trump is already calling for loyalists to oust former allies like Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, who put the Constitution before fealty to the President.
There are two theories about what happens next. Trump’s influence could ebb once he is deprived of his platform and politics moves on without him. Or, exiled to his gold-plated palace in Florida, will the former President still hold the GOP in his thrall, hinting he may run in the 2024 presidential primary and acting as a kingmaker in other races?
Even if Trump fades away, the corrosive elements of his creed — assaulting truth, undermining the integrity of elections, desecrating good governance, demonizing the media, and disdaining science and fact — will take years to flush out of American politics.
‘This surge is different’
Winter holiday gatherings are expected to only fuel America’s rising coronavirus case numbers. But this time, the nature of the surge is different, US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. “This surge is different than earlier surges, because it’s not about PPE. It’s not about testing. It’s really about health care capacity, and certain places are just being overwhelmed,” he said.
Making tennis great again
Picture the scene 50 years hence: A future president, overheating after a tough three-setter, seeks shelter from Washington’s pounding climate-changed heat in an elegant tennis pavilion, with marbled columns and a copper roof that looks remarkably like the White House itself.
That sweaty commander in chief will have outgoing first lady Melania Trump to thank for their respite from DC’s soupy summers. The newly unveiled pavilion represents one of her most noticeable legacy items as she prepares to leave the presidential mansion.
The tennis court is on the South Lawn, not far from former first lady Michelle Obama’s kitchen garden. Former President Obama had pressed it into service as a different kind of court — for basketball rather than tennis.
The announcement about the privately financed pavilion reflects the polarizing and enigmatic nature of the current first lady. When she posted on social media about the project in March, she was accused of tone deafness as the pandemic accelerated, as CNN’s Kate Bennett reported. She now risks committing a double fault by trumpeting its completion as Covid-19 lays siege to America’s health and economy during a horrific winter spike.
On the other hand, the often reclusive first lady is simply fulfilling a role adopted by many of her predecessors, updating and maintaining the White House and its facilities — as she did with another controversial project, overhauling Jacqueline Kennedy’s design for the White House Rose Garden. Unlike her predecessors, she will not be much remembered for social projects and other initiatives: Her “Be Best” campaign hasn’t made much of an impression. (Its partial focus on online bullying also raises inevitable charges of hypocrisy, given that her husband authors one of the world’s most incendiary Twitter accounts.)
But there’s little sign that Melania Trump loses sleep over what everyone thinks about her pavilion. In the words of the slogan daubed on her jacket during a notorious visit to detained migrant children, she may just be thinking, “I really don’t care, do U?”
‘A quarantine puppy’
Americans desperate for pets to cuddle through the lonely months of social distancing are increasingly falling victims to fraud, instead. The number of reported pet scams — mostly involving pups — has more than doubled since the pandemic began, costing victims more than $3 million nationwide, according to the Better Business Bureau. “A ‘quarantine puppy’ or other pet has proven to be a comfort for many people, but it also has created fertile ground for fraudsters,” Michelle Corey, the BBB’s St. Louis president and CEO, said in a news release.