This is what it looks like when things fall apart

Drew Angerer/Getty ImageFormer New York City Mayor and current Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
  • At a press conference on Thursday, Rudy Giuliani’s hair dye dripped down his face while he spit conspiracy theories at a crowd of reporters who seemed (at best) embarrassed for him.
  • This is what it looks like when things fall apart.
  • Trump and his people have nothing but lame-duck power – certainly no evidence of voter fraud – but they will do as much damage to this country as they can with what power they have for as long as they are able.
  • Keep your head up. Wear a mask. Look out for each other.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
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On Thursday former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani — representing the President of the United States — took to television to decry the outcome of the 2020 election, spout conspiracy theories, and echo disproven lies.

One of his equally glassy-eyed fellows claimed that former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez — a man who died in 2013 — helped rig the 2020 election.

Giuliani sweat so profusely that his hair dye ran down his face. He visibly spit into the audience during a pandemic. He waxed philosophical about a favourite movie. It was like being stuck in a conversation with a drunken person at the dumbest country club.

It was pathetic, and that’s because things sometimes look pathetic when everything falls apart. This is the wail of ineffectual losers who feel their power slipping away. It’s a blustering, boobish bluff.

This doesn’t mean bad things won’t continue happening in our country thanks to the Trump administration. They will. With the power of the White House behind them, even buffoons this tragic can do real damage to our belief in democracy. And of course, there is the fact that our nation is in crisis.

The damage to come

President Donald Trump has fully abdicated his responsibility to care for the American people during the worst of the coronavirus’ surge. His public schedule remains blank, and negotiations for another stimulus package — which the American people desperately need — have stalled.

There is no better way to teach 300 million people that the government cannot care for them than by simply refusing to let the government do so. There will be unmeasurable consequences to this failure.

Refusing to help the public in times of great need creates a level of fear and uncertainty that triggers a kind of callous sense of self-preservation. That, in turn, kills altruism in a society, and altruism is how you keep a society together. If government isn’t useful in this kind of act-of-God public-health crisis, people may wonder, what is it useful for?

Tantrum transition

Trump — on his own and through his hapless surrogates — is throwing a tantrum. I use that word specifically because saying Trump is angry sounds too thoughtful, and it is time to stop paying any respect to this man’s constant keening over himself.

At first, the word in Washington was that Trump refused to take action on the coronavirus because he didn’t want to help blue states. Now that red states are being racked by the virus we can put that theory aside. On top of being hurt at our country as a whole for rejecting him, Trump is a preening, self-obsessed man who was always too small and cowardly to serve the people of the US. The rest of the world has been outpacing his skill for decades now, and this fresh reminder of his own limits is throwing him into a fit.

If you ever thought his anger was a righteous rage at elites and liberals, you were mistaken. Trump’s anger has always been about his own inadequacy. He’s the only person he has ever cared to do anything for. He does not care about his base, his party, or anyone else. And the longer he stays in office, the more he makes us like him.

Because of this weakness, Trump cannot handle any reality that does not make him feel like he has power. He’s primed his followers to feel the same way. He will never come around to actual reality. The more his comfort zone separates from fact, the more unhinged and irrational he and his cronies will behave — from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to Giuliani.

They will do things that don’t seem to make sense, like this strange exchange between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chair Powell. Mnuchin — a known Trump toadie who has always lacked the talent and experience for his office — is requesting that the Fed hand back $US455 billion in yet-to-be-used funding for programs meant to help businesses struggling through the pandemic. The money came from the CARES Act — the first economic rescue package passed this spring.

Mnuchin claims that this is to “redistribute” the money (a word we do not often hear Republicans use without derision). It also means that the incoming Biden administration would need to get the funds reauthorized by Congress for the Fed to restart the programs. Which, given the GOP’s recent track record of working with Democratic White Houses, is not exactly a guarantee. Given this fact, Powell — one of the few adults left in Washington with a relationship with this White House — disagrees with the move.

If this seems like it doesn’t make sense, that’s because it doesn’t have to. It’s a political game being played by a peevish man-child, and American businesses and workers are caught in the middle.

Mnuchin and the rest are acting on the orders of a petulant cry baby who will bawl and destroy things until he leaves office. In some cases — as in Mnuchin’s — this can be damaging. Things will be broken that President-elect Joe Biden will have to put together again.

But in other cases — and these cases are coming fast and furious — Trump will look utterly ridiculous. Many of those cases will feature Giuliani. He is a reminder that despite the wailing and gnashing and conspiracy-theory mongering, when it comes to actually overturning the election, we have nothing to fear from fools.

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