Our Q-i-A, lightly decorated, is located below.
What if he loses?
Why have we been waiting for months to inaugurate the president and how Trump came in
CNN: The presidential election is being held on the first Tuesday, after the first Monday in November. But the new president is in office until January. What is the reason for this gap and is it still needed?
KAB: The reason for this gap is in the peaceful transfer of power and it is absolutely necessary. Maybe now more than ever before.
I interviewed more than two dozen people who worked for Barack Obama and George W. Bush, and I was told on both sides that they had a smooth transition, which was important at a time when the country was going through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, Michelle Obama’s first boss, Jackie Norris, told me that “she will never forget the intense friendly cooperation and loyalty that first ladies and members of the first women’s staff have”. It was the same with the West Wing.
The dangerous way in which Trump’s campaign approached the transition is dangerous. To be sure of this is that no one on his campaign team took the time to put together a acceptance speech. They didn’t think they would win.
Trump won the election in part by saying he would “drain the swamp,” but there are basic responsibilities of the federal government that would be better equipped to govern if he had some level of institutional knowledge (Joe Biden is just the opposite). And that takes time, which means it takes months to contract and learn how things work.
In my book, Team Five, I wrote that Obama aides were told to draft thick manuals with instructions on how their offices work, including details as small as voicemail passwords.
This is from the book:
But Obama’s aides had no one to send carefully selected briefing books to.
Career government officials have waited in the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Trade and spreading bureaucracy to everyone. They wanted guidance – they wanted to know who their new bosses were and how their jobs would change in the Trump presidency – but they got nothing. In fact, some high-level employees waited and waited until, after a few weeks of silence, they assumed they were no longer employed and packed their offices.
How could Trump get out
CNN: Looking at Trump’s first term, what are some things we should look for in the post-defeat transition?
CNN: The United States is known for its peaceful transfer of power. Is there a precedent for the loser of the president or his administration to wreak havoc on going out the door?
KAB: Historically there have certainly been bitter defeats (see John Adams and Thomas Jefferson), but in modern times both sides have pointed to their ability to transfer power peacefully. During the 2008 campaign, Bush’s director of national intelligence, John Michael McConnell, arranged for Obama and his Republican rival, Senator John McCain, to receive a report on the thirteen most important national security issues. Once, during the last two months of the 2008 campaign, Obama and McCain found themselves at the same table in Roosevelt’s room, with Bush sitting between them as they discussed Congress for $ 700 billion to save a sickly sunken market.
Bush and Obama had sincere respect for each other. At the presentation of official portraits of George W. and Laura Bush in the White House in May 2012, Obama said, “President Bush has realized that saving our economy is not just a Democratic or Republican issue, but an American priority. I will always be grateful for that.” In contrast, President Trump allegedly did not invite President Obama to his portrait unveiled at the White House.
It is unlikely that Trump would somehow refuse to leave
CNN: Trump is not the kind of person who just walks away peacefully. What kind of things could he do if he wanted to throw a gear into a government machine?
KAB: He could have refused to leave, but I don’t see that happening. It was debated on the left, Bill Maher in particular, so that’s something people think. It’s hard for me to imagine
Trump is sitting on the steps of the Capitol with hundreds of thousands of people in the audience cheering for his departure.
Former presidents have traditionally quarreled with each other, even after being forced into office. After Ronald Reagan spoke at the opening of Jimmy Carter’s library, Carter said, “Now I understand more clearly than I ever had a reason why you won.”
Jimmy Carter apologized to George W. Bush at Bush’s dedication to the library because it was too strict for him, especially because of his outspoken criticism of the Iraq war. “Oh, shut up,” Bush replied. Can you imagine that happening to Trump and whoever succeeds, whenever that happens?
What if he wins?
Identification of embolized
CNN: No president has been removed, fired or re-elected. You can imagine that if he wins, Trump would feel more belittled than anyone else in history. How could Trump treat the office in its second term as the ultimate winner?
KAB: I think he’ll feel restless doing whatever he wants. When I interviewed him for my book, it was soon after the Mueller report was published and he felt like he had been released. He was honestly exaggerated and eager to talk about how he thinks he has done more than any president in history. So I can only imagine his reaction to being re-elected after he was overthrown. Much of what he spends his time manages only in the form of his supporters and if he is re-elected, it would prove the immense power of his constituents. I think he would criticize journalists and the so-called “deep state” even more than he does today. That wouldn’t be a good sight.
It is not a historical precedent for Trump
CNN: Is there another president who came to the White House unpopular and then won the re-election unpopular? Is there another double president divisible as Trump?
KAB: I think George W. Bush was incredibly separated, but not to that extent. His grades have been so taken away from going to office. And like Trump, he was elected without a popular vote. Bush followed his father’s leadership and remained largely on the sidelines. He watched as his grades were approved, for the absence really makes his heart. I can’t predict that Trump will stay on the sidelines.
Unpopular presidents and second term
CNN: What can we learn from other terms of the presidency that were not insanely popular at the time of their re-election and won in expectations (I mean Harry Truman here or Richard Nixon)?
KAB: If you look at Nixon and Watergate, winning in the small margin only made him more paranoid and irrational and led to his resignation. That example does not show well.
Trump and his successor GOP
CNN: We’re deep in assumption here, but I wondered, if Trump won, how he would treat Mike Pence, who was a loyal soldier during this first term. It’s hard to imagine someone with Trump’s sensibility on a reality show just passing the baton to someone like Pence, who undoubtedly lacks Trump’s flair for drama, as the next logical GOP candidate. What does history tell us?
KAB: Trump is not loyal to people just because they are loyal to him. I think he would treat Mike Pence well if he is re-elected because logically Pence would help him convince evangelical voters to stay with him. But I don’t think that loyalty would last long and Trump could support someone else if Pence runs in 2024. That wouldn’t turn into long-term support if it didn’t benefit him somehow.