It was a couple of hours before airtime when I saw the presidential tweet with the eye-popping verb.
To be sure, the president said that “he won because the Election was Rigged.” And there was a swipe at the “fake and silent media.”
But Trump is a master messenger online. After a long week of insisting he hadn’t lost the election that the media and even some Republicans say he lost, he had to know the significance of putting the word “won” next to his opponent’s name. I immediately decided to make that tweet, and the digital explosion it triggered, the lead of “Media Buzz.”
Every major news organization posted a story on Sunday morning. Media liberals swarmed Twitter to declare that Trump had grudgingly conceded. He hadn’t, of course–there was the rigged election part–but I believe it was a signal. The president may never concede, but he was suggesting he wasn’t out of touch with reality, that he knows there’s a transition of power under way that he probably won’t be able to stop.
Perhaps Trump underestimated how many dogs would hear the whistle. It wasn’t long before he posted a semi-corrective second tweet about Biden: “He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go. This was a RIGGED ELECTION!”
When I asked senior campaign adviser Jason Miller about the first tweet, he said the president was speaking to “the mindset of the media that they’re acting as if Joe Biden has already won,” when the states haven’t certified the votes.
I’d just point out that the media were acting as if Trump had already won the election after they projected him the winner in 2016, long before the required state certifications, and his team didn’t have any problem with that. Obviously it’s not official. By yesterday morning the president was back to “I won the Election!”
My sense is that Trump stays wedded to the stolen-election narrative to lay the groundwork for his post-presidency, whether it’s as a Republican kingmaker, the head of a network to compete with Fox News or just as an all-around cultural force.
Andy McCarthy, a Trump supporter who often defends him in National Review, is taking heat for saying the president’s legal efforts have a “fatal problem”: in each battleground states, “there is always a mismatch between the impropriety alleged and the remedy that it could yield…
“I take no joy in that–I wanted Trump to defeat Biden. Legally, however, I don’t see how the Trump campaign is going to change the result in a single state, much less three states.”
There have been other hints of realpolitik breaking through, beyond such former officials as John Kelly and John Bolton slamming their ex-boss for blocking a transition. White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said yesterday: “Look, if the Biden-Harris ticket is determined to be the winner, and, you know, obviously, things look that way now, we’ll have a very professional transition from the national security council.”
The most urgent problem is the surging coronavirus, with America having been hit by a million news cases in six days and hospitalizations at record-shattering numbers. And yet the Biden team, including former Ebola czar Ron Klain, the incoming chief of staff, has no access to Anthony Fauci and the federal health agencies, even as they will have to find ways to distribute at least two promising health vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna.
That is fueling the already fierce media criticism of Trump’s insistence on contesting the race.
“Since the election was called for Biden,” the Washington Post says, “Trump has spent the past two weekends golfing at his private course in Virginia. And he has all but given up trying to manage the deadly coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 245,000 Americans and sickened millions more on his watch. Despite being on track to lose more than a quarter-million Americans before he leaves the White House, the president has not attended a coronavirus task force meeting in many months.”
A New York Times news story has this lead: “President Trump’s refusal to concede the election has entered a more dangerous phase as he stokes resistance and unrest among his supporters and spreads falsehoods aimed at undermining the integrity of the American voting system.”
As for the aforementioned president, he was back on Twitter yesterday, declaring that “Radical Left Democrats” were working with “the Fake News Media” to try “to STEAL this Election.” But he did find time for one posting on Covid-19:
“European Countries are sadly getting clobbered by the China Virus. The Fake News does not like reporting this!”
The world is getting clobbered, especially America, which is why it would make sense for the Trump and Biden teams to work together, regardless of who the current president believes actually “won.”