President Trump’s grievous failure for months to ramp up testing and medical capacity to address the coronavirus has imperiled the country. The best-case scenario may be that “only” hundreds of thousands die. Meanwhile, the economy and daily life have ground to a halt. The stock market has lost all gains since he took office. (What he used to point to as evidence of his economic brilliance is now confirmation of his total incompetence.) Trump’s presidency is a failure by any reasonable standard, and things might get worse before November.

George Conway III urges Trump to resign, although he recognizes that the egomaniac is unlikely to follow his advice. There is, however, another way in which Trump might be able to able to garner a tiny bit of credit and also avoid the further humiliation of a Herbert Hoover-type defeat. (In the 1932 election, the president who presided over the Wall Street crash lost the electoral college to Franklin D. Roosevelt 59-472.) He might even be able to lift the spirits of the country and give the markets a shot of adrenaline and announce he will not run for reelection.

Before you dismiss this out of hand, consider that Trump uses the presidency to enrich himself and his family, but most of all to feed his insatiable ego. Confronted with a debacle he is unable to solve, a second term would surely be misery for him. His properties might lose even more of their value as his name becomes associated with catastrophe. (Imagine staying in the Herbert Hoover International Hotel.)

Without admitting defeat or failure — he’s a 10 out of 10! — he can announce he is going to devote himself full-time to the crisis for the remainder of his term, which will allow no time to campaign. (He cannot even hold rallies, the one thing that tends to satisfy the narcissist, at least temporarily.) He’s being heroic, forfeiting a second term to save the country!

And bluntly, his promise to leave might restore confidence to the markets. Business leaders, investors and consumers alike might welcome an election between Vice President Pence and former vice president Joe Biden. (He could quickly assign his delegates to Pence and forgo further primaries.) At least the winner won’t be a fabulist unable to comprehend the magnitude of the problem.

Trump could then claim credit for any economic stabilization between now and next January, and insist that because of his bold actions, he prevented more death and illness was avoided. He’s a hero, you see.

Now, only a world-class narcissist would take credit when those he insults (e.g., Democrats, the Fed, governors) work furiously to mitigate the harm he has magnified, but no one fits the bill of world-class narcissist better than Donald Trump.

Oh, and there is one more benefit to forgoing a second term: Either president-elect Pence or acting president Pence (should Trump decide to skip out after the election but before the inauguration) could pardon him. Surely he does not want to rely on the victim of his smear, Biden, to pardon him.

As Alice Roosevelt Longworth said of her father Theodore Roosevelt, “[he] always [wanted] to be the corpse at every funeral, the bride at every wedding and the baby at every christening.” Trump needs to be the hero in every crisis, even ones he caused. The way to do that might be to end his presidency at one term (as Hoover’s did), but leave with a cover story that preserves his massive ego.

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