A month ago, I entertained the same delusions shared by many never-Trumpers: that President Trump’s shenanigans would lead to summary impeachment, or at the very least he would suffer a humiliating reversal in the 2018 midterm elections, when the country comes to its senses and returns Congress to the Democrats.
The thought of Trump serving two presidential terms was too absurd to be considered.
I’ve changed my mind. I think a 2018 repudiation of Trumpism is far from certain. The whole idea that Trump might face impeachment, or become “bored” with the presidency now seems like nonsense. Of course he likes being president. Instead of being on TV once a week, he’s on every second of every day! Why wouldn’t he run again? And why wouldn’t he win?
This isn’t the world I would choose to live in, but it’s a world we may need to get used to. I can’t see any evidence that Trump has done anything other than deliver on almost every one of his hateful campaign promises. Sure the central press hates him, and is working long hours to bring him down, but they hated him well before he was elected, and it affected the election barely a whit.
Face facts: Trump is here to stay.
But what about Russia? I hear you say. OK, what about Russia? There is no evidence at all that Russia actually hacked one American voting machine in the 2016 election. Did Putin’s government despise Hillary Clinton? Certainly, but as Masha Gessen argues in a persuasive essay, they — like everyone — assumed she would become president.
Did Russian assets with connections to WikiLeaks hack John Podesta’s sloppily protected e-mail account? Probably. That would be just the kind of mischief/payback that would torment Putin and Trump’s shared enemy — Clinton. Did they act at the behest of the Trump campaign? I doubt it, and Gessen doubts it, too. She calls the so-far released evidence of Russian interference “plainly, laughable,” and I agree.
Here is another piece of magical thinking: that Trump’s tax returns will bring him down. Really? Do you think there will be a line item under “Outstanding Debts” that reads: “In hock to Russian mobsters and oligarchs — bigly!” Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns are doubtless the usual thicket of prevarications and evasions. His lawyers and the Internal Revenue Service, which he now controls, could easily spend seven years splitting hairs over whom he owes money to, and whether or not that affects his behavior.
How deeply do Trump’s supporters care about his purported tax fiddles, anyway? He, after all, is the man who declared well before nomination as a presidential candidate: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters.” Without actually shooting anyone, he proved to be right.
Here is the most painful part of all: More than any president in recent memory, Trump has fulfilled his campaign promises, one by one. Immigration crackdown? Yes. Environmental protection at a standstill? Check. Banks, Big Pharma, fossil fuel companies, and farmers seeing regulations and enforcement actions disappear overnight? Indeed.
Even Fortune 500 companies seem easily cowed by the presidential tweet machine and make much of relocating jobs into the United States. Trump’s preliminary report card: Mission Accomplished. Except this time it’s true.
“There is many a slip/twixt the cup and the lip,” the saying goes. Is Trump assured of smooth sailing for two, three, or even eight years? Of course not. An economic catastrophe, a foreign adventure gone wrong, or, God forbid, a wave of terrorism could pull the plug on his 24/7 video selfie.
But to assume that he will self-destruct is just wishful thinking at this point. He won one election unexpectedly, and there is nothing that says he can’t do it again.Alex Beam’s column runs regularly in the Globe. Follow him on Twitter @imalexbeamyrnot.