“I’m not gonna make it,” a friend of mine wrote on Facebook recently. “I’m not gonna be able to live through this for four years.”
(She then added a emoji for emphasis. So you know she’s serious.)
I’m a bit more sanguine about things, but I think I’m going to make it through these next four years just fine. That may be because I’m increasingly convinced that the Trump administration is not going to last that long.
I’m not kidding.
The way I see it, there are three ways in which our Orange Overlord departs the Oval Office prior to the appointed end of his four-year term. I will review each of the possibilities in order of their likeliness, from least to most.
1. Trump could die in office.
The anti-Trump memes are becoming increasingly violent, with the Village Voice going so far as to use a picture of a target on Trump’s head as its cover photo. I think such images are reprehensible and irresponsible, and I’m increasingly unnerved by how easily and, indeed, eagerly anti-Trumpers resort to violence, as evidenced most recently by the UC Berkeley riots. Certainly there are plenty of vicious people who would be willing to put a bullet in the president’s head, perhaps more than ever before.
I don’t think they will succeed, however, mainly because the Secret Service has gotten really, really good at keeping presidents from being killed. They’ve learned the lessons of Dealey Plaza and/or John Hinckley and had several decades to work out the kinks. They also have better technology and better intelligence, and I think there’s a reason that there hasn’t been an actual attack on a president in three and a half decades. It isn’t because there haven’t been any willing assassins.
Trump could die of natural causes, too, and it’s not insignificant that he’s 70, overweight, and eats like crap. But all reports are that he’s hale and hearty and not likely to shuffle off his bulbous mortal coil within a four year time frame.
I put the likelihood of a Trump funeral prior to 2020 at 3.6%.
2. Trump could be impeached.
Yes, every president has critics that cry “impeachment” from the day they take office, and it’s usually an empty threat. But Trump is easily the most impeachable president in the history of the republic.
What people failed to realize during the Clinton impeachment was that the process of removing a president is 100% political. There is no objective legal definition of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” that are constitutionally required to oust a POTUS. Senate Democrats, early in the Lewinsky scandal, were drafting speeches calling on Clinton to resign, and had public opinion soured on Bubba, they’d have tossed him out on his ear.
But by the time Clinton was finally brought to trial on the Senate floor, it was clear that his party would pay no political consequences for overlooking his crimes. So Senator Robert Byrd could go on television and excoriate Bill Clinton for committing perjury, a felony, yet still vote to keep a perjurer in office. Yes, they knew he was a scalawag, but he was their scalawag, so they ignored the law and kept him in power.
Trump is nobody’s scalawag but his own. Large chunks of the GOP despise him, and they would like nothing more to see him sent packing. The fact that Mike Pence is a milquetoast, mainstream Republican waiting in the wings makes a Dump Trump interparty movement even more appealing. When – not if – Trump does something colossally stupid, embarrassing, and/or destructive that threatens to take the whole party down with him, the party will toss him overboard before he can lift a tiny finger to stop them.
I put the likelihood of a Trump impeachment at 25.3%.
That’s pretty high, all things considered, but it’s not the most likely scenario. No, the next one is where I’m putting my money.
3. Trump will quit.
I don’t think Donald Trump had – or has – any idea of how different being president of Trump Inc. would be from being President of the United States. When you’re both owner and president of a privately held company, everything you say goes. People cater to your every whim, and nobody has any ability to stop you from taking the company in whatever direction you choose, even if you decide to send it down the drain. It is a dictatorship, not a democracy, and it is the life to which Trump has become accustomed.
Winning the presidency is the ultimate ego boost, but being president isn’t nearly as much fun. You can’t just ban people from seven countries without some “so-called” judge weighing in. Trump frantically tweets every time he’s checked or balanced because he’s astounded that he can’t snap his fingers and make things happen. He’s going to become increasingly frustrated by how little of his grubby little agenda he’s actually going to get accomplished, and he has neither the patience nor the wisdom to endure the near-constant defeats that are in store for him.
He’s also going to chafe at the constraints of life in the White House, a building Harry Truman once called “the crown jewel of the American penal system.” For a man whose used to tomcatting around whenever he gets the urge, he’s going to find that there isn’t as much opportunity to grab things as he had when he was making that Access Hollywood tape. There’s no reason to believe that he’s been any more faithful to his third wife than he was to his first two, and the fact that she has no plans to join him in DC demonstrate that Melania knows precisely who she married and what to expect from her lecherous husband.
We’ve had leches in the Oval Office before, but the days of JFK being able to smuggle Mafia princesses into the White House residence are over. Clinton’s squalid affairs had to take place in bathrooms and cupboards. It’s really not the life to which Trump is accustomed.
I think the day will come – and not in the far future – where Trump decides he’s had enough. He’ll declare victory, hand the White House keys over to Mike Pence, and then kick Schwarzenegger out of the Apprentice chair and resume the life of decadence that defines who he is.
I put the likelihood of a Trump resignation at 42%.