.@alexburnsNYT on why the Trump tweets about delaying the election shouldn't be taken literally and only seriously to the extent that it shows him as an isolated figure awash in a reality he's trying to avoid https://t.co/9J2OVZoNs1— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) July 30, 2020
I know the sky is falling and only the clever people understand that, but this strikes me as a much more thoughtful take on the guy who tried to start a suburban war in Portland and still thinks racists are both fine people and his loyal base.
For several years, it has been the stuff of his opponents’ nightmares: that President Trump, facing the prospect of defeat in the 2020 election, would declare by presidential edict that the vote had been delayed or canceled.Perspective is always helpful in these matters.
Never mind that no president has that power, that the timing of federal elections has been fixed since the 19th century and that the Constitution sets an immovable expiration date on the president’s term. Given Mr. Trump’s contempt for the legal limits on his office and his oft-expressed admiration for foreign dictators, it hardly seemed far-fetched to imagine he would at least attempt the gambit.
But when the moment came on Thursday, with Mr. Trump suggesting for the first time that the election could be delayed, his proposal appeared as impotent as it was predictable — less a stunning assertion of his authority than yet another lament that his political prospects have dimmed amid a global public-health crisis. Indeed, his comments on Twitter came shortly after the Commerce Department reported that American economic output contracted last quarter at the fastest rate in recorded history, underscoring one of Mr. Trump’s most severe vulnerabilities as he pursues a second term.
I especially like this bit:
Far from a strongman, Mr. Trump has lately become a heckler in his own government, promoting medical conspiracy theories on social media, playing no constructive role in either the management of the coronavirus pandemic or the negotiation of an economic rescue plan in Congress — and complaining endlessly about the unfairness of it all.
“So many dead and the economy in free fall — and what’s his reaction? Delay the election,” Mr. Weld said. “It’s a sign of a mind that’s having a great deal of difficulty coming to terms with reality.”
The timing of Mr. Trump’s tweet, as much as the content, highlighted the extent to which he has become a loud but isolated figure in government, and in the public life of the country. In addition to failing to devise a credible national response to the coronavirus pandemic, he has made no attempt to play the traditional presidential role of calming the country in moments of fear and soothing it in moments of grief.
Never was that more apparent than on Thursday, when Mr. Trump spent the morning posting a combination of incendiary and pedestrian tweets, while his three immediate predecessors — Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — gathered in Atlanta for the funeral of John Lewis, the congressman and civil rights hero.
As mourners assembled at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Mr. Trump had other matters on his mind, like hypothetical election fraud and, as it happened, Italian food.
“Support Patio Pizza and its wonderful owner, Guy Caligiuri, in St. James, Long Island (N.Y.).” the president tweeted, referring to a restaurateur who said he faced backlash for supporting Mr. Trump. “Great Pizza!!!”