Breakfast with Bwana
By Anil Madan
It is a sad fact of American life that conspiracy theorists and naysayers emerge at every turn. Whether it is the assassination of JFK (or Martin Luther King, Jr., or Robert F. Kennedy), the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, vaccinations, the Super Bowl, even Presidential elections, there is an endless supply of maggots who emerge to proclaim some new departure from reality. So it has been with this election of 2020.
“When a politician says he is doing something “in the best interest of our Country” you can be sure he has his own best interest in mind…”
It must happen in other countries. The difference in the U.S. is that our robust communications infrastructure allows such undercurrent movements to take on a life of their own. Social media companies have only compounded the problem. Every wingnut has his day in court, so to speak.
It is one thing for loony supporters of a candidate, right-wing or left-wing, to spew conspiracy theories. It is quite another for a candidate to join the fray. When the candidate is the President, an entirely different level is reached. It was perhaps not unsurprising to anyone, but our President displayed a total lack of grace through the entire election cycle. Well, let’s be compassionate. It is difficult to say grace when served humble pie.
If a candidate cannot tell himself that he has lost, someone has to tell him. Someone had to tell Donald Trump that the flurry of lawsuits filed on his behalf was full of nothing but strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, not properly pleaded in court, and unsupported by evidence. And someone did. A federal judge in Pennsylvania did when he threw out the Trump campaign’s latest suit. And the judge noted that the claim on behalf of Trump, “like Frankenstein’s Monster, has been haphazardly stitched together from two distinct theories in an attempt to avoid controlling precedent.”
If there could be an indictment of lawyers for making bogus claims, this was it.
Someone had to tell Donald Trump that his legal team was a national embarrassment. And someone did. This time, it was former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a one-time presidential candidate, and longtime Trump suck-up. In fact, but a few weeks ago, Christie was prepping Trump for his second debate with Biden.
Call after call came from Republicans. It was time. Whether it was Republican voices that Trump could quickly dismiss, Peggy Noonan, Hogan, Mitt Romney, and the like or voices not so easily dismissed, the pressure was on.
As Georgia and Michigan certified their votes in favour of Joe Biden, on November 23, 2020, Trump finally cracked. Here are his latest tweets:
“I want to thank Emily Murphy at GSA for her steadfast dedication and loyalty to our Country. She has been harassed, threatened, and abused – and I do not want to see this happen to her, her family, or employees of GSA. Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good…
“…fight, and I believe we will prevail! Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”
Trump has capitulated.
The immovable object that is Trump’s lack of grace has met the reality, the irresistible force. And the immovable object moved. Perhaps ever so imperceptibly, but it moved.
When a politician says he is doing something “in the best interest of our Country” you can be sure he has his own best interest in mind.
We know not what more havoc Trump can wreak in the weeks ahead. But it is slightly comforting to think that he has his legacy in mind and this palliative approach to the well-being of the country may signal the advent of a modicum of grace.
* Published in print edition on 27 November 2020