Having run successfully for public office 13 times, I can readily understand why President Trump is having a hissy fit. My political mentor once reminded me that “winning isn’t everything, but losing is nothing.” Trump doesn’t like to lose, and according to his niece Mary Trump, losing was never allowed in the Trump family.
The idea of being one of only 10 presidents who ran for re-election and lost must really be galling. In the private sector, Trump had numerous ways to avoid losing. He franchised his name to be put on dozens of buildings, with no liability. He filed for bankruptcy several times, and in almost every case emerged with no obligations to his creditors. There are dozens of ways to come out a winner in the business world, but in politics, you either win or you lose.
I am among those who really don’t care whether Trump concedes his loss and calls President-elect Joseph Biden. History tells us that it’s the right thing to do. But it wouldn’t bother me at all if Trump didn’t show up on Jan. 20 for the Biden inauguration. My thinking about the departing president is colored by four years of Trump and everything he has done and stood for.
At this moment in time, well over 1,000 Americans are dying each day of Covid-19. Hospitals in so-called red states like Texas and Montana are running out of ICU beds, and the president is doing absolutely nothing. There is a coronavirus task force headed by Vice President Mike Pence, but its hands are tied because the administration doesn’t want to do anything.
Weeks ago, we learned that more than 500 children were separated from their parents after being picked up at the Mexican border as part of Trump’s crackdown on immigration. Biden called the situation a “national disgrace,” but the man who could do something about the tragedy, Trump, remains silent. I still remember then Attorney General Jeff Sessions pledging to enforce a “zero tolerance” policy on immigration in which children would be separated from their loved ones, and no one tried to stop him.
I recall that after the protests and violence in Charlottesville, Trump uttered his famous words that there were “very fine people on both sides.” I have continuing visions of the president sending comforting signals to the white supremacy crowd while they were holding torchlight parades demeaning ethnic minorities. I haven’t forgotten his slandering of the late Sen. John McCain or his cruelty toward a Gold Star family.
Over the years, Trump has reserved his greatest hostility for women. At his news conferences, he has gone out of his way to insult women reporters with taunts and mean-spirited comebacks. No president in American history has been accused by so many women of sexual assaults.
No president since Richard Nixon has refused to make any of his tax records public. “They’re under audit,” Trump has said, ad nauseam.
He made many promises back in 2016 to win the support of the country’s voters. His pledged that he was going to “drain the swamp.” Four years later, a number of his close associates and campaign advisers have been convicted of federal crimes. Lobbyists have been given open access to the operations of the administration, and many have become federal officials.
Generals with admirable war records have been recruited to serve in Trump’s cabinet, and have been showered with insults when they chose to leave. Prominent corporate executives have been treated in the same ugly fashion. The conflicts of interest created by Trump’s family businesses have frequently made headlines, with no effort to curb their excesses.
Jan. 20 isn’t that far away, and it will be a happy day for those of us who have wished for a new occupant of the White House. There’s no need for Trump to bother attending. His absence would be noted, but not missed.
Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column? JKremer@liherald.com.