As Trump’s stage set is struck, his disastrous plot plays out

Trumpists don’t seriously believe the nonsense their hero is peddling. It’s essentially a TV show to them.

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Seventy percent of Republicans claim to believe the presidential election was stolen. “You couldn’t possibly be that gullible in real life,” writes Gene Lyons. “Not and be allowed to leave home without a minder.”


As I write, it’s impossible to guess how this sitcom ends. Boss Trump’s comic opera coup attempt has clearly failed, as even Emily Murphy, the hapless head of the General Services Administration, was forced to concede. Once Pennsylvania and Michigan certified that Trump had lost both states, she really had no choice. The formal transition to Joe Biden’s presidency has begun.

President Vladimir Putin will be disappointed. Discrediting democracy is Job 1 for the Russian dictator. Peddling phony claims about voter fraud and election rigging is right out of the Kremlin playbook. It’s become unfashionable to say so, but that’s the biggest reason Putin invested in Trump to begin with.

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After the fact, Trump pretended he’d ordered the GSA to act, a falsehood so transparent that hardly anybody bothered to contradict him. Amid the avalanche of gigantic lies, absurd errors and preposterous conspiracy theories advanced by the White House and its crackpot legal team since the election, it seemed hardly worth contesting.

Nevertheless, Trump vowed to fight on, predicting ultimate victory. He may even believe it. He was probably listening to Rudy Giuliani, even as that stalwart confessed on Fox News that he’d exaggerated when he claimed that “the city of Detroit probably had more voters than it had citizens” — a hallucination immediately endorsed by his White House client.

See, it turned out that Rudy was looking at the numbers from a bunch of precincts in rural Minnesota rather than urban Michigan. Try to believe that Trump’s attorneys actually submitted an affidavit in federal court seeking to invalidate a presidential election in one state based upon statistics from another. Is it any wonder Trump ally and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie described his legal team as “a national embarrassment”?

For the record, the city of Detroit has 670,031 citizens, of whom 250,138 voted in the 2020 presidential election. Of those, 12,654 voted for Trump, marginally better than he did against Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The other 94% supported Joe Biden.

Somebody called Rocky De La Fuente also won 204 votes. So at least Trump didn’t finish last in the Motor City.

In other news, Trump attorney Sidney Powell kept threatening to “release the Kraken” — a legendary beast from a monster movie — by way of proving her bizarre theory about how Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez and ubiquitous supervillain George Soros supposedly conspired to create computer software to steal the election. Never mind that Chavez has been dead for seven years.

No matter, since Giuliani fired the nut. See, Powell had also intimated that several name-brand Republicans, among them Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, were in on the vote-stealing scam. And that would never do.

Powell had to go.

So if you’re one of the reported 70% of Republicans who claim to believe that the election was stolen, this is the quality of the evidence you’re buying. You couldn’t possibly be that gullible in real life. Not and be allowed to leave home without a minder, that is.

Which only reinforces my conviction that many Trumpists don’t seriously believe the nonsense he’s peddling. It’s essentially a TV show to them. One day Sidney Powell is the heroine of a prime-time miniseries, the next day she’s gone. A has-been, a used-to-be, a trivia question. A one-time contestant on “The Apprentice.” A former Trump henchman, like Michael Cohen or Anthony Scaramucci.

You remember The Mooch, right? He was White House communications director for 10 whole days in July 2017. Then he criticized Trump and got fired. Anyway, I think it was The Mooch I heard on CNN predicting how the Trump presidency would end, although it could have been Cohen. Although only Cohen is a felon, they have similar New Yawk accents.

Anyway, the gist of it was that Trump would never, ever concede defeat. He simply can’t deal with failure. “I think he is having a nervous breakdown over the embarrassment of losing,” Scaramucci tweeted the other day. “Doesn’t know what to do with himself.”

Rather than face reality, he predicted, Trump would announce a holiday visit to his golf resort at Mar-a-Lago and never return to Washington. Rather than face Joe Biden and shake his hand like a man, he’d simply pull a disappearing act. Hirelings would be brought in to haul his stuff out of the White House — gold-plated toilet and all.

OK, that was a cheap shot. I actually doubt that the Trumps had their gilded plumbing fixtures moved from Manhattan to Washington. But I do confess to finding them vulgar and ridiculous, like everything else about Donald J. Trump; a lout’s idea of class. If that makes me an “elitist,” so be it.

Some say he’ll announce his 2024 candidacy, effectively paralyzing the Republican Party. Could be. He can’t long exist without publicity. But four years can be an awfully long time for an overweight 74-year-old has-been.

Gene Lyons is a columnist for the Arkansas Times.

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