Mr. President: Spare us the rest

November 27, 2020 12:01 am

President Donald J. Trump, pardons “Corn” as the 2020 National Thanksgiving Turkey Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, during the annual pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey in the Rose Garden of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

Coronavirus claimed its highest daily number of U.S. deaths since May earlier this week, and the Texas National Guard was forced to deploy a team for the grim task of helping out with the morgues in El Paso

School districts around the country, including in Virginia, are debating whether to continue teaching online, or bring students back into the classrooms. Parents are split on which is the best route, fearing they’ll jeopardize their children’s lives during a pandemic that’s already killed more than 259,000 people in the United States.

A pair of hurricanes that deluged parts of Central America this month will, officials say, likely lead to more migration

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump responds to it all by playing golf. 

The man who routinely excoriated then-President Barack Obama for hitting the links has, just since Election Day, played golf at his own course in Virginia at least a half-dozen times. But tending to the affairs of state? Not so much.

He’s tuned out the most basic duties as commander in chief since he lost his re-election bid to Democrat Joe Biden. Besides Trump’s repeated lies about the vote-counting in several battleground states; numerous false tweets; and the campaign’s bumbling, failed attempts to overturn the results in court, he has neglected his job. 

So here’s a suggestion, Mr. President: Resign. 

Turn things over to Vice President Mike Pence for the nearly two months until Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, so the country will have an engaged executive at the helm. Stop the reckless interference you are choosing to do, often behind the scenes, that Biden will have to clean up. 

Do I expect the egomaniacal, publicity-seeking Trump to follow my advice? No. He wouldn’t even faux-concede the election until late Monday, allowing Biden and his team to finally start their transition.

Trump would be only the second president to resign, following Richard M. Nixon during the height of the Watergate scandal. Nor would Trump want to cede the spotlight he’s enjoyed — way too much — since he assumed the Oval Office nearly four years ago. 

“It would not be good for his post-election plans (both business and political),” David Barker, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University in Washington, told me by email Tuesday afternoon. “Given that he was refusing to concede as recently as 36 hours ago, it would be awfully strange to completely shift course and quit.”

Barker also noted Trump “certainly has lost even the faintest interest in doing the job (except to sabotage Biden – and that may be the other reason that he won’t).”

It’s as if he wants to burn the proverbial house down on the way out. Some patriot.

I should note Trump has overseen a few official duties since the election, but they’ve often been ceremonial. On Veterans Day, he made his first public appearance in nearly a week by visiting Arlington National Cemetery. During the virtual Group of 20 summit this past weekend, he did the bare minimum: hardly ever speaking, leaving early both days, and glancing at his phone during meetings, The Washington Post reported. 

I almost forgot: He did pardon two turkeys ahead of Thanksgiving, in an annual presidential tradition. 

Trump hasn’t spoken to reporters much in public. Aides have said the West Wing has been increasingly empty, according to news stories.

Other actions seemed designed to complicate matters for Biden; whether they’re in the best interests of the country are debatable. 

For example, he wants to halve the size of U.S. troops from about 5,000 to 2,500 in Afghanistan, and from about 3,000 to 2,500 in Iraq during his time left in office. Republican lawmakers and former U.S. officials have questioned or outright criticized the moves. It’s telling that Trump waited until near the end of his term to push through the pullouts, instead of when he would’ve had to face the consequences directly.

He’s threatened to veto a military funding bill unless a bipartisan provision rename military bases honoring Confederate military leaders is removed. Who says the Civil War is over? Of course, no one is surprised about whom Trump is fighting for in this conflict.

The toy that was the presidency has lost its allure for Trump. He should formally admit he’s disengaged now, and just quit. 

The country isn’t safe with a president who isn’t interested in the job anymore.

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Roger Chesley
Roger Chesley

Longtime columnist and editorial writer Roger Chesley worked at the (Newport News) Daily Press and The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot from 1997 through 2018. He previously worked at newspapers in Cherry Hill, N.J., and Detroit. Reach him at [email protected]