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Will he or won’t he do the right thing?
Bob Franken
Bob Franken is an Emmy-winning journalist. - photo by File photo

Finally, Jan. 20 will be upon us -- after months of sulking, Donald Trump will be skulking out of the White House, having exhausted every tacky legal artifice that he and his fellow nutcase Rudy Giuliani have thrown into the path of the reality that Trump was blown out in the election.

All that remains is whether President Trump will attend the inauguration of his successor, Joe Biden. As always, Trump was petulant: “I don’t want to say. I know the answer, but I just don’t want to say.”

How juvenile is that? The Trumpster never scored high on the maturity scale, particularly when he wanted to drag out the anticipation. Well, let’s end that suspense by not letting him anywhere near the ceremony. His presence would only extend the embarrassment. Actually, if he was capable of embarrassment, he wouldn’t want to come. 

The last time around, you will recall the empty spaces on the mall and the Obamas and so many others from the higher echelons of the U.S. government sitting there stone-faced as the incoming president appalled everyone in attendance by describing their handiwork in dystopian terms, referring to “carnage,” as in “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

He is oblivious, of course, to the widespread feeling that he has made the carnage worse, culminating in the deadly debacle of the COVID pandemic, aggravated because he and his people were in over their heads. He cannot accept the fact that the citizens have rejected him as chief executive, as opposed to embracing Joe Biden. He has repeatedly insisted that he lost only because U.S. democracy doesn’t work: “You have a fraudulent system. Fraudulent voting and fraudulent votes.” 

Presumably he and his family will hightail it to Florida by the time his successor takes the oath of office. There they will stew about how the “fake news,” the “enemy of the people,” started on day one of his presidency when they underestimated the crowd in attendance. All that those scuzzballs had were pictures and video of the large empty spots and other factual evidence to back up their reporting. They didn’t fall in line even after his press secretary, Sean Spicer, wearing an ill-fitting suit, went to the podium and chewed the correspondents out for accurately portraying the crowds as smaller than Barack Obama’s.

The reporting had sent Mr. President into such a rage that when he visited the CIA the next day, he was still steaming. “We had a massive field of people. You saw them. Packed. I get up this morning, I turn on one of the networks, and they show an empty field. ... And they said, ‘Donald Trump did not draw well.’”

Actually, Donald Trump might take comfort at the size of the crowd this time, because Joe Biden is planning a much more modest event, making huge allowances for the lurking coronavirus. Trump, who by now is so easy to figure out, will be gloating about the smaller gathering, not thinking, even for a moment, about the “American carnage” that resulted from what history will call “Trump’s virus.”

Joe Biden will spend most of his first period in office undoing what he can of the mess the previous administration left. Donald Trump will be making sure no one forgets him, in his quest to return in 2024. The best thing that could happen to him is that he is forgotten.

Bob Franken is an Emmy Award-winning reporter who covered Washington for more than 20 years with CNN.

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