(Trends Wide) — One benefit of never admitting that you lost a presidential election — although, of course, you did — is that you can continue to act like the president.
That’s exactly what Donald Trump is trying to do these days, overseeing a kind of shadow presidency for the Republican Party base in which covid-19 isn’t that big of a problem, they stole the 2020 election, and he was right about, well, everything else.
The latest example of the presidency from the shadows of Trump came on Wednesday, when The Washington Post reported that Trump had spoken with several of the relatives who were killed by a suicide bomber during the final days of the US military involvement in Afghanistan.
Those calls come after considerable controversy over President Joe Biden’s visit to Dover Air Force Base to assist in the removal of the bodies of the 13 US servicemen killed in the bombing. Several families refused to meet with Biden, while others confronted the president over his decision to end the war in Afghanistan after 20 years of US occupation.
As the Post reported on the calls the former president has been making:
“Trump has been critical of the way the Afghanistan pullout was handled, telling at least one family that he did not understand why Biden pulled the military out of the country before removing all civilians, according to people familiar with the calls that they spoke on condition of anonymity to reveal details of the private discussions. “
“Trump has recently been briefed by former officials, including former CIA Director and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, about what he did in Afghanistan as president and what they saw as missteps by the Biden administration, advisers said.”
Trump even sent a statement – through his PAC “Save America” - from the mother of one of the soldiers killed in the attack in which he suggested that her son “was killed by Biden’s point of view.”
It’s hard to overstate the difference between this type of behavior and that experienced by former presidents after leaving office.
The general rule of thumb for ex-presidents is to stay out of national affairs, knowing perhaps better than anyone on the planet that they are not aware of the full spectrum of an issue in the same way as the incumbent president.
As Dan Zak of The Washington Post recently wrote: “A post-presidency is its own kind of office, with a term limited only by death, and held at any given time by a few men, each with their own ideas on how to exercise a position. more abstract kind of power. “
George W. Bush returned to Texas, devoted himself to painting, and rarely offered comments – positive or negative – about Barack Obama. “I think part of having a full life is being challenged,” Bush said after leaving the White House. “They challenge me on the golf course, they challenge me to stay in shape, and my paintings challenge me … I’m happy.”
Obama, following his departure from the White House in early 2017, angered many liberals with his refusal to speak out against Trump and his efforts to summarily reverse many of the measures the 44th president had implemented for eight years. While it did eventually come out – particularly as the 2020 race heated up – with a more scathing critique of the Trump years, it still wasn’t enough for many who believed Obama owed the party and the country attacking Trump for four years. in a row.
Trump, who is never overly concerned with how past presidents have behaved, has not even acknowledged that Biden won the presidency fairly, let alone backtracked in terms of playing a public role.
He has promoted conspiracy theories about voter fraud (nonexistent) in places like Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin. It has suggested that Biden is doing a “horrible job” dealing with COVID-19. On Afghanistan, Trump has said that “never in history has a withdrawal from the war been so poorly or incompetently handled as the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.”
In short, Trump has continued to act as if the 2020 campaign is ongoing, which, to him, it apparently is. Rather than call for unity after a close race – a la Al Gore after the long recount in the 2000 presidential race – Trump has doubled and tripled the push for false narratives to a party base too eager to accept what he says without question.
That decision, unsurprisingly, has left the country divided – if not more – than we were already at the heart of the 2020 campaign.