Assuming President Trump is true to his word and concedes the election once the Electoral College awards his job to Joe Biden, we can begin to ponder several questions.
Such as . . .
In addition to whether he attends the Biden inaugural, much less leaves behind a note of encouragement for his successor: how long Trump plans to stick around Washington, D.C., that afternoon.
In 1953, Harry Truman wasted little time getting to Union Station and a train that would take him back to Missouri. Nearly a half-century later, Bill Clinton headed to Andrews Air Force Base for an afternoon of reviewing troops, giving remarks and mingling with well-wishers (the Clinton’s were wheels-up about three hours after George W. Bush took the presidential oath).
Will Trump go straight to the air base and take off right away, or will he stick around for one more MAGA rally (hopefully, he doesn’t do the latter during the Biden inaugural)?
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A second question: will there be a Trump Presidential Library. If so, where?
Every former president dating back to Herbert Hoover has a library that bears his name (that includes the Obama Presidential Center, whose construction has turned out to be a Chicago-sized headache thanks to state and federal red tape).
Tradition dictates that Trump’s library would be placed in his hometown. But building such a structure in Manhattan? Or Palm Beach? Or the back nine on Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey?
Third, what’s Trump’s future on Twitter?
As the American president, Trump is guaranteed a slot on the social medium thanks to a rules-exemption for “world leaders, candidates, and public officials.” As a private citizen, the former president in theory loses that shield. Then again, do Trump tweets rise to the level of a lifetime Twitter ban?
Fourth, will there be a Trump book deal (we’re talking Donald, not First Lady Melania, who reportedly may pen her own memoir)?
The Obamas received a $65 million book advance. George W. Bush reportedly received $10 million for his 2010 book Decision Points. The Clintons were handed $29 million for two personal accounts of their lives and times.
Trump reportedly could make up to $100 million from book and television deals. Considering that a hardcover copy of Barack Obama’s latest memoir is going for nearly $24 on Amazon.com, how many of the nearly 74 million Trump voters in this year’s election would it take in order for a publisher to turn a tidy profit?
And that takes us to the big question: is there another presidential run in Trump’s future?
Here, I defer to my Hoover Institution colleague Victor Davis Hanson and his recent column that looks at Trump’s immediate options. That includes conceding the election once he’s exhausted his legal avenues, campaigning for the Republican incumbents in Georgia’s two Senate runoffs, and whether to pull the trigger on a 2024 comeback.
VDH writes: “In blunter terms, Trump may be forced to choose within days whether he wishes to emulate Andrew Jackson, the aggrieved victim of the crooked bargain of 1824 that denied him victory in that year’s presidential election. Jackson stormed back in 1828 to an overwhelming populist victory fueled by a righteously aggrieved following.”
He adds: “Otherwise, Trump would risk being reduced to the status of sore presidential losers such as Al Gore and Hillary Clinton. For all their media accolades, Gore and Clinton never really accepted their losses in 2000 and 2016, respectively. Despite their supposed magnanimity, Gore and Clinton turned even more bitter, shrill and conspiratorial – and ended up caricatured and largely irrelevant.”
Does Trump see himself as the second coming of Andrew Jackson (and, yes, Trump visited Old Hickory’s Tennessee home soon after his inaugural, laid a wreath at Jackson’s tomb and chose a portrait of America’s seventh president for the Oval Office)?
That only happens if, as Victor Davis Hanson speculates, the present “we wuz robbed” mentality still resonates with Trump’s base three years from now when the next presidential campaign begins in earnest.
It also depends upon whether Biden turns out to be the second coming of John Quincy Adams, the victor in 1824.
Where Adams’ presidency went wrong: the President hitching his wagon to Henry Clay’s “American System” – an industry-protecting tariff; the creation of a national bank; and federal subsidies for “internal improvements” (“infrastructure,” in 19th-Century parlance). In sum, it was grist for the Jacksonian mill of limited government.
But if Biden doesn’t overplay his hand – i.e., play into stereotypes perpetuated by his detractors? Then Trump is looking at some difficult political history.
There was no yearning for a Bush 41 comeback in 1996, just as minting “Carter 1984” and “Taft 1916” buttons would have been a lost enterprise. The other charter member of the modern presidential “one-and-done club” – Herbert Hoover – stayed out of party politics (I’m limiting membership to elected presidents, so Gerald Ford doesn’t qualify).
But Trump is different from those rejected ex-presidents in at least two regards. First, he’s still popular with Republicans (90% approval, per this November Gallup survey). Second, in his early post-presidential years, he likely can stay in the news as frequently as he’d like – the same luxury his predecessor enjoys, as Obama’s recent book-related media blitz demonstrated.
By the way, there’s another Jacksonian way for Trump to end his stay in the nation’s capital.
In March 1837, Andrew Jackson stood by as Martin Van Buren took the oath as his successor (it was the first time a president and a president-elect shared a carriage ride to the U.S. Capitol).
Jackson didn’t leave town right away. He met with media and political allies, even providing some colorful commentary (asked if he had any regrets, Jackson replied: “Only two. I regret I was unable to shoot Henry Clay or to hang John C. Calhoun”).
The following morning, Jackson boarded a train for Tennessee. Thousands of adorers showed up to send him off and the former president didn’t disappoint – removing his hat and bowing to the crowd as the train left the station.
There was no Twitter. There was no cable news.
But it was keeping in Jackson’s populist image.
Which perhaps is what Trump should be keeping in mind.
Source: Forbes – Business