Meanwhile, Trump has also managed to wreck numerous opportunities that he could have easily turned to his political advantage if he had reacted to them in a non-depraved manner. Instead, he sought to pervert or corrupt them in ways that ended up backfiring.
When you view these things in one place, the true scale of Trump’s commitment to winning the election through corrupt means becomes a lot more striking. And, since many of them are doing great damage to the country, his sheer destructiveness also comes into much sharper relief.
Let’s take these in reverse chronological order.
Trump’s vaccine scheme implodes. The White House has now agreed under political duress to the Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines for vaccine trials, after trying to block them for weeks. The FDA timetable requires a median of two months to pass after participants in vaccine trials take their final dose, all but scuttling authorization before the election.
Trump had repeatedly tried to rush the process to boost his reelection. This made it politically more damaging: It forced many stakeholders (the biotech industry, administration scientists) to loudly demand an uncorrupted process, reverse-spotlighting his own corruption.
Trump blows up stimulus lifeline. Trump angrily terminated talks over a new stimulus package on Tuesday, only to abruptly reverse course and tweet out demands that Congress approve aid to the airline industry and direct cash payments to individuals.
Signing a big stimulus would have delivered a political boost. Trump knows this: He corruptly insisted on putting his signature on a previous round of checks. Now Trump has placed himself on the hook for killing desperately needed aid just as the economy further tanks, while also reminding voters of his tendency to try to make complex, consequential policy via erratic, ineffective, self-contradictory rage-tweeting.
Trump wrecks public goodwill toward himself. When he tested positive for the coronavirus, he might have seized the moment to admit error; to show humility and humanity toward its victims. Instead, he launched a display of megalomaniacal propaganda that cast his supposed personal triumph over the virus as a function of his alleged strength, insulting the dead and bereaved.
His cultish theatrics for supporters outside the hospital needlessly put others at risk. And now Trump is still resisting further protective protocols in the White House, even as the coronavirus spreads among his top advisers. All this just reminds Americans of his reckless handling of the virus all throughout.
Amy Coney Barrett implicated in coronavirus event. When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, observers proclaimed Trump had an opening to change the subject from coronavirus. But when Trump introduced his replacement nominee at last weekend’s largely mask-free White House event, it may have infected at least eight people with the virus, including two GOP senators.
This is the direct result of Trump’s depraved requirement that all Republicans treat the virus either as no biggie or as largely vanquished by his spectacular leadership, and that they act this out by shunning social distancing, putting their own lives at risk.
Efforts to corrupt vote-by-mail backfire. Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr have spent months telling all kinds of lies about vote-by-mail fraud, to lay the groundwork for Trump to declare victory just after Election Day, while seeking to delegitimize millions of uncounted mail ballots.
But the telegraphing of such corrupt designs has helped spur an enormous amount of early voting and early mail-balloting, in which Democrats have a large registration advantage, as Republicans warned would happen. Experts say this will help avert the massive mail-voting overload around Election Day that could have produced delays Trump hoped to exploit.
Trump’s “law and order” agitprop tanks. Trump’s top law enforcement and national security officials used their positions to lend official credence to largely manufactured impressions of a full-scale, organized, violent leftist terror threat, in keeping with Trump’s campaign narratives.
But a Department of Homeland Security whistleblower helped disrupt this effort by revealing that higher-ups had pressed for the manipulation of intelligence to bolster that story line. And polls have since shown Biden favored on crime and safety, surely because voters grasp that Trump is actively working to foment violent civil conflict.
“Hunterghazi” flops. Trump and his propagandists spent months teasing major revelations about Joe Biden’s son Hunter, while openly banking on a transparently phony GOP Senate investigation to manufacture illusions of Biden corruption.
But that probe’s final report was a buffoonish bust. And all the hype only drew more attention to the profound corruption of demanding such blatant perversion of the congressional investigative process.
Which brings us to … impeachment. Let’s not forget that Trump’s zeal to manufacture such Biden corruption led him to try to strong-arm a foreign ally under extreme duress into announcing investigations that would validate those narratives, for which he was impeached.
That’s a reminder that Trump has been working to place the levers of government at all levels at the disposal of his reelection campaign for upward of two years now. In retrospect, the Ukraine scandal set the template for all the corruption that would follow — and for his accompanying string of miserable failures to get away with it as well.