Coronavirus infections are skyrocketing. Unemployment is rising. Food lines are getting longer. And President Donald Trump is tweeting.
Happy Thanksgiving. This year’s holiday season is bringing Americans together, literally, despite the best advice and increasingly urgent pleas of experts, who worry that family gatherings will seed a surge-upon-a-surge of Covid-19 cases.
The solidarity that President-elect Joe Biden called for in a speech on Wednesday feels like a distant dream compared to the state of affairs in Washington, where Trump digs deeper into his bunker. The President is at once denying his election defeat and imploring loyalists to fight it. And the federal government and Congress are effectively AWOL, leaving millions of Americans to fend for themselves in the midst of a medical and economic catastrophe.
In this weird interregnum between Biden’s victory and Trump’s departure, the lame-duck President and the incoming one have taken remarkably, if unsurprisingly, different paths.
Trump is wrapped around the axle of his delusional bid to claw back a presidency that is receding from his grasp with each passing day. He lurches between grievance and pipe dreams, with no thought for the destruction in his path. Biden, operating in the world as it exists, has been scrupulously building a government-in-waiting. And in the two days since a Trump-appointee allowed the formal transition to begin, Biden’s team has begun to examine the rusted nuts and bolts of the beleaguered institutions he will inherit.
Biden’s reality and Trump’s fantasies collided on Thanksgiving eve.
The President attacked the courts, which have almost unanimously dismissed his outlandish claims, Democrats, with still more plainly absurd lies, and called — on whom, it was hard to say — to overturn the election results. A few hours later, he issued a pardon to loyalist Michael Flynn, his briefly tenured national security adviser who pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about conversations with Russia’s then-ambassador.
Afterward, Trump invited the Pennsylvania Republicans to the White House for a West Wing meeting, two sources told CNN. It is a reprise of a gambit the President tried with two leading Michigan GOP state lawmakers, who visited Washington last week, for a debriefing the President hoped would yield more fuel for his baseless claims of election fraud. But he received none and the Republicans quickly released a statement afterward affirming the truth — that they had “not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan.”