It is not the least of ironies that in the week following Election Day, President Trump has conducted himself as many of his supporters have long advised him to do. He has left most comments to subordinates, especially lawyers, and repeated without bombast or unnecessary flourishes his belief that the apparent election result is compromised. He will assert his right and fulfill his duty to do all that he can to assure that all legal votes and no illegal votes are counted.
Trump has expressed confidence that should not be disparaged or mocked that such a result will sustain him in office. His opponent’s lead in Arizona and Georgia is in each case now about 10,000 and slowly falling. It is quite possible that the president will, without recourse to extraordinary measures, win those states. He won North Carolina and Alaska on Election Day, and only the perversity of the media withheld that fact from being acknowledged. The addition of these four states would bring his electoral vote total to 259, and reduce Joe Biden’s to 279. This makes Pennsylvania with its 20 electoral votes crucial.
The U.S. Supreme Court has already required that all ballots cast in the three additional days granted for reception of mailed ballots by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania be segregated and counted separately. Pennsylvania appears to have seriously violated the requirement of the election legislation of that state detailing that scrutineers of both major parties be enabled to verify all ballots. And as the Constitution provides that all elections be directed by the legislatures of the states, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision to authorize the three-day extension seems to be ultra vires to it, illegal and subject to revocation by the High Court. Given the fragile Biden lead in that state, it must be considered vulnerable and a flip would reelect Trump as president if Arizona and Georgia were in his column also.
There is a prima facie case for abuse of ballot-harvesting in Wisconsin, which Biden only won by about 20,000 votes, and, along with other irregularities, in Michigan also, though his lead there may be insuperable.
It has been an obvious element of the Democratic Party and media strategy to go through the elaborate pretense that the hostile networks can, unto themselves, declare the winner of the presidential election, and unleash upon the country the inexpressible joy of Trump’s enemies at the thought of defeating him—a bandwagon of public emotion and credulity that could push their spavined candidate across the finish line.
This may reasonably be considered the final chapter of the five-year campaign of almost unanimous media hatred and chicanery directed against Trump. The spectacle this past week of the media—almost all of the networks and leading publications’ principal personalities—throwing down the threadbare mask of professionalism and impartiality and jubilating at the thought of having helped defeat the president whom they have uniformly despised and defamed and denied any credit for his considerable accomplishments, has been a powerful and self-convicting confirmation of their dishonesty.
News anchors bursting into tears of unembarrassed happiness at the liberation of America, tempered only by wistfulness that since the president has received 72 million votes he has not really been “repudiated,” and the pompous and juvenile festivities of celebration in the midst of what purport to be newscasts have denied them any defense of professional integrity. The mockery of neutral coverage of the president and his critics, the endless repetition of the fake polls of affiliated organizations professing to have found a huge gap in public opinion in Biden’s favor and predicting landslides that did not occur, were capped by a premature declaration and celebration of victory unjustified by the law or the facts.
The president has set a commendable example of cool-headed self-restraint since the election. He received the news of the development of a 90 percent-effective vaccine against the coronavirus with satisfaction, and without gloating, which left his official and unofficial enemies floundering between happiness and suspicion. The egregious governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, complicit by his negligence in the deaths of over 30,000 residents of homes for the elderly in his state, was reduced to lamentations that, as the president still has more than three months to inauguration day, he might do frightful things with the vaccine. Even in what they conceive to be victory, President Trump’s enemies descend compulsively to the self-abasement of partisan back-biting.
The president’s most distinguished act this week has been the firing of Defense Secretary Mark Esper. His insolent and sanctimonious public statement at the height of the riots in Washington that he did not approve of the use of the Insurrection Act to deploy the Armed Forces, was an unpardonable affront. Obviously, if the president had invoked that statute, (as Thomas Jefferson did for all of New England towards the end of his time as president), Esper would have had the option to resign and express his disagreement. The president did not invoke an insurrection which in fact was being perpetrated by large numbers of urban guerrillas, vandals, arsonists, looters, and hooligans masquerading as civil rights crusaders, and coddled by local Democratic municipal governments.
There was no excuse for Esper to have made any public comment on such a hypothesis. It would normally be unjust to mind-read and impute motives to him, but it is impossible to imagine that he had any purpose except to separate himself from the president whom he served and who did him the honor of naming him to the great office that he held. He cannot imagine that anyone had the slightest interest in his views on that subject, other than those who would rejoice in the implications of such a public betrayal of the president at whose pleasure he served.
That it is no longer his pleasure is to the president’s credit. He should have no compunction about doing the same with the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Mark Milley, who embarrassed himself with gratuitous self-criticism for having accompanied the president and a large official group on a walk from the White House to the adjacent St. John’s Church which the “peaceful protesters” had almost burned down the night before. The director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, who smugly whitewashed the enormities of the Bureau in the Trump-Russia outrage could also be liberated to spend more time with his family without leaving the nation inconsolable, and the Augean Stable of the upper echelons of the FBI given a proper cleaning.
If Joe Biden finally wins the election and wants to reverse any of these moves, it would be an inauspicious start to what, in any case, promises to be an extended “gloomy winter” for America if he is presiding.