How likely is it that Donald Trump, if elected, would serve more than a few months of his term? How likely is it that he will even continue as the nominee much beyond the convention?
My opinion is that Trump is suffering from what I call “Attention-Seeking Deficit Disorder.” He doesn’t want to serve. He doesn’t want to be president; he wants the attention that accompanies the campaign. And now, I think he’s rather afraid that he might win. [Laughs] I don’t think he knows what he’s going to do as president.
— Lloyd Wright, the Democratic National Committee’s media coordinator during the 1964 race.
That quote appears in an interesting interview published on last weekend’s Politico Magazine, with the title “LBJ’s Ad Men: Here’s How Clinton Can Beat Trump–We talked to two of the geniuses behind the greatest ad campaign in political history. Here’s what they’d do in 2016.” The interview is by Robert Mann, author of the book Daisy Petals and Mushroom Clouds: LBJ, Barry Goldwater, and the Ad That Changed American Politics. (The other participant is Sid Myers, former art director at the campaign’s advertising firm.)
Earlier this week Trump was quoted as suggesting that he isn’t having very much fun anymore. I think this occurred the day after the judge in the Trump U. case ordered the public release of deposition transcripts and other documents from the litigation’s discovery process—information that, at least in my opinion, will be a death blow to his candidacy.
But also within the last two or three days, as Trump has spiraled into undeniable madness, I’ve seen articles such as one today by NYT Supreme Court correspondent Adam Liptak titled “Donald Trump Could Threaten U.S. Rule of Law, Scholars Say.” That article begins:
WASHINGTON — Donald J. Trump’s blustery attacks on the press, complaints about the judicial system and bold claims of presidential power collectively sketch out a constitutional worldview that shows contempt for the First Amendment, the separation of powers and the rule of law, legal experts across the political spectrum say.
Even as much of the Republican political establishment lines up behind its presumptive nominee, many conservative and libertarian legal scholars warn that electing Mr. Trump is a recipe for a constitutional crisis.
All of the quotes in the article are from libertarian-right law professors. But clearly, the expectation of blatantly unconstitutional conduct by Trump is hardly limited to that crowd.
Another article I read in the last day or two recounts the many statements Trump has made in the last few months that make clear that he doesn’t know even the basic contours of what each of the three branches of the federal government is charged under the Constitution with doing, and appears not to know that there is a separate of powers among the three branches under the Constitution.
Then there are those private conversations that Paul Ryan mentioned yesterday between him and Trump, which culminated in Ryan’s endorsement of Trump upon the stated ground that Trump would become Ryan’s puppet. Trump, Ryan said, will support Ryan’s fiscal agenda. And regulatory agenda. And Legal Movement agenda. Which is what most large Republican donors care about. Trump’s made it clear that the federal judiciary will be a branch of Koch Industries. And that almost certainly is a promise he would keep.
Directly or via succession. His own.
He’s assured Ryan that the Kochs, the securities and banking industry donors, and the pharmaceutical industry donors will control their respective industry’s administrative agencies, beyond anything that existed even in the Reagan and Bush II administrations. He’s done so publicly about the EPA. And undoubtedly privately regarding the others.
Ryan doesn’t trust Trump to keep his promises. But I think he needn’t worry, not because Trump himself actually understands what a promise is—he doesn’t—but because it will be Ryan and the Kochs who choose the vice presidential nominee. The person who quickly will become the actual or de facto presidential nominee or, if the ticket wins, president within a few months.
I think Democrats need to consider the possibility of this scenario, and start seriously educating the public about the Ryan fiscal and deregulatory juggernaut in store for the country if the Republican ticket wins. And they should recognize that the real ballgame here may be the VP candidate.
If Trump remains the nominee and is elected, how long will he remain in office?
I’m not sure whether this is a serious post or not.