Ever since Donald Trump transitioned from reality television to reality reality, with each outrageous step his detractors have erroneously proclaimed his career’s demise. As a candidate, he said American POWs aren’t “real heroes” and was revealed to have crudely bragged of sexually assaulting women. As president, he has cozied up to a notorious foreign dictator and told blatant whoppers about his popularity. Political opponents and media voices – Democrats but also Republican dissenters like me – seem baffled at his invincibility.
Television programs “jump the shark” when their increasingly outlandish plots (such as a 1977 stunt in which The Fonz from Happy Days waterskied over a shark) fail to sustain their viewership and undermine their relevance instead.
But Donald J. Trump will never jump the shark. I believe he will be president until he dies – or gets bored. And given how much fun he’s having, don’t count on his getting bored any time soon.
This supposedly unfocused, befuddled president knows what he’s doing. His wiliest PR strategies sometimes draw the least notice. When Trump’s allies silenced Elizabeth Warren on the floor of the Senate, they got what they wanted from the inevitable Democratic outrage: an amplified voice for their ideal bête noire – a smug professorial female Massachusetts liberal. And when campaigning for restrictions on Muslim immigration, there’s no better way to convince the media to re-run graphic stories and horrific footage of past terrorist attacks than by alleging they had never done so.
Trump’s “inevitable” fall from power, they say, will come in one of three ways:
One: He’ll be impeached.
Under a Republican Congress, Trump’s high crimes and misdemeanors would have to be awfully high and awfully mean before discussions of impeachment could even begin. Most GOP legislators have incorporated Trumpism into their political outlooks and identities, and even those who haven’t will resist taking down a man who is implementing policies they’ve long yearned for.
And Trump is too savvy to take blatantly unconstitutional steps right away. His deliberately gradual style, with trial balloons and changes in focus, means members of Congress won’t draw a line lest they be implicated in not having stopped the president earlier.
Members of Congress are loath to attack Trump because their constituents won’t let them. Online and in public forums, Trump supporters brook no dissent, particularly against self-described Republicans and conservatives who question this president’s fitness for and performance in office. (Don’t believe me? Look at the comment section below this very article.)
Which brings me to:
Two: His own people will turn against him.
Liberals frequently claim Trump bamboozled working-class voters with unrealistic economic promises, but as soon as they start losing their health insurance they’ll turn against him. That is perhaps a sociology professor’s fantasy of why voters picked Trump, but they were really rejecting a broken political system in which Democrats and Republicans lied to them and blacklisted some of their cherished opinions. Hillary Clinton encapsulated the America they despised, with Trump’s frank style a refreshing contrast.
Thus, worsening health care and bleaker job prospects – if they even happen – will not dampen enthusiasm for this president. And if Trump does see his support among Republicans and the white working class erode, and he can’t solve the problem with bread, he still has circuses in his arsenal. The biggest one?
He can arrest Hillary Clinton.
Such a step – consistent with his repeated campaign promises – will thrill voters who despise Democrats, and many will fall back in line.
Three: We’ll surely have a new president in 2021.
The 2020 presidential election has many possible results – including a landslide Trump victory. But one result that simply will not happen is this Tweet from @realDonaldTrump:
The American people have spoken. Dems won fair and square. Disappointed, but I congratulate my opponent, will work to smooth the Transition.
President Trump refused to accept the results of an election he WON. Does anyone seriously think he’ll roll over when people start claiming the whole country rejected him? I’m certainly not saying Trump will be some sort of African-style dictator, impulsively seizing permanent dictatorial power. Quite the opposite. If an unfair election thwarts the clear desires of the American people, a democracy-minded president has to dispute its results on behalf of the voters, doesn’t he?
A Trump defeat could create an unprecedented Constitutional crisis, with partisans on both sides insisting that fairness requires their candidate to be president. Should such a crisis come to pass, I’m betting on the side with guns.
Opposing Trump isn’t futile. His detractors can keep holding rallies, lobbying legislators, and telling all their friends on Facebook just how upset they are. They can even write strident opinion pieces, like I just did.
But waiting for Trump to finally cross a line, so the robust American system can restore national equilibrium? Not going to happen. This presidential shark has too many teeth.
David Benkof is a columnist for The Daily Caller. Follow him on Twitter (@DavidBenkof) or E-mail him at [email protected].