If Donald Trump loses the election, this is certainly plausible:
Imagine that on January 21st Kayleigh McEnany begins broadcasting regular press briefings from the Trump Hotel a few blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House; picture the 45th president hosting congressional leaders in a replica Oval Office reconstructed inside his hotel to plot GOP strategy and rail against the injustices done his supporters, using Twitter to stoke ongoing protests and MAGA-nation resistance across the country and touring to show up at boat parades and host his signature rallies. What if Trump wakes up each day attempting to explicitly—not just passively—undermine a Biden domestic policy at home and foreign policy overseas?
This scenario comes from a Politico Magazine piece by Garrett Graff that tries to imagine a Trump post-presidency, and it's more or less what I expect Trump to do, except for the replica Oval Office. (He'll set himself up in a replica office that doesn't look anything like the Oval, and he'll claim that it's much more impressive. I don't know how many members of Congress will actually show up, but I'm sure Matt Gaetz will be in regular attendance.)
But the next part of Graff imagined future seems much less plausible:
[Trump] could go as far as even appointing his own “shadow cabinet,” fundraising off his aggrieved fan base as they underwrite his most loyal aides like Mike Pompeo and Mike Pence, who would also be out of office alongside Trump and casting about for how to chart their own political future. They could hold their own political meetings, press conferences and appear every night on Fox to stir the national political pot.
Share the spotlight? Trump? Is Graff joking?
In everything he's attempted throughout his life, Trump has needed the assistance of subordinates who (unlike him) know what they're doing -- imagine how hapless his efforts to steal the election would be without the evil expertise of Bill Barr, Louis DeJoy, and a slew of voting-rights-averse Federalist Society judges -- but he's oblivious to this fact and continues to think of himself as a solo act. His fans feel the same way about him. Not only won't he have a shadow cabinet in his self-styled government in exile, I assume he'll never speak to Pence or Pompeo after he leaves office, or speak to any other aide who wasn't with him back in 2015 and 2016.
But I recommend the Graff piece because it runs through the many creative ways Trump can continue to be corrupt and degenerate as an ex-president. An example:
Intelligence professionals can envision, for instance, Trump standing on the world stage alongside his favorite global strongmen—say Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, Hungary’s Viktor Orban or Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro—bragging about his new joint development deals and the world leaders willing to host him even as they reject entreaties from President Biden. Think “Trump Tower Damascus will be a new start for my peace-loving friend Bashar al-Assad.” Or even imagine Trump, Rodman-style, turning up courtside at North Korean basketball games with his buddy Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang, just as Joe Biden turns up the pressure on the Hermit Kingdom’s nuclear program.
Graff also believes Trump could have a presidential library that's more like a theme park:
Trump could easily reimagine the very essence of such an endeavor, turning his presidential library into a for-profit arm of the Trump Organization that becomes a mecca for his devoted MAGA fans the country (and world) over—a “Trumpland” Florida tourist attraction to rival Disney, SeaWorld or Universal Studios, complete with regular guest appearances from his family members, live broadcasts from Trump’s own media endeavors and no shortage of Trump-branded merchandise. It’s not hard to imagine, at least in near-term years, attendance in the low millions—a potentially rich branding exercise.
In a country where there are "Trump stores" in many states, I have no doubt that the ex-president could attract many white heartland visitors to a venue like this.
But is Trump capable of getting something like this built? I could imagine plans so grandiose that the damn thing never gets built at all, just the way many of Trump's most excessive dream projects haven't been built. It would be hilarious if the guy much of America believes is the world's greatest builder became the first modern president who couldn't get his presidential library constructed. But I think that could happen.
Posted with permission from No More Mr. Nice Blog