The American Presidency: As Seen On TV!
Well, of course he wants to call it the night of... it's the season finale.
So of course it’s come down to this.
Our reality TV president, who was impeached for trying to get Ukraine to announce an investigation into Vice President Joe Biden on television after being elected by getting the FBI to announce an investigation into Senator Hillary Clinton on television, is staking his hopes and dreams of a second term on what made his first term: the promise of great television.
He’s looking for a moment, a bright, beautiful, shining moment when he will be winning “very strongly” and he’s hopeful that he’ll be able to catch that moment and yell “CUT! THAT’S A WRAP!” and strike up the band and the victory procession.
For weeks he’s been talking about how weird it would be to not know the winner on election night, as if 2000 didn’t happen, as if the counting of votes has ever been finished on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, because he’s a televisual president. His campaign was televised. His fame was televised. His wealth, his career, his reputation, was televised.
And so for him, the ritual of networks “calling” a race is what matters, just as the spectacle of prosecutors announcing an investigation is what he sought to goose his campaign over the top and sandbag his rivals.
So, of course it comes down to television for him. He doesn’t know or care about the actual laws governing the counting of ballots. He doesn’t care or know about the processes and procedures.
It’s bad TV. Event TV. Boffo, gonzo TV. That’s all he cares about. That’s all he has. At the end of the day, at the end of his last term, that's his only play.
Meanwhile, we’ve been voting. We’ve been marching. We’ve been showing up. We’ve been going to court. The GOP sued to throw out a hundred thousand some ballots in Texas… is that a move you make if you think you’re winning? It seems a risky gambit to me, in that it’s likely to alienate and aggravate voters, and for what, to get rid of 127,000 votes?
The GOP’s closing moves are why I remain cautiously optimistic that we’re going to see states go blue that were counted out as red in previous cycles. It’s not over until it’s over, that’s a lesson we learned in 2016 and it was a harsh lesson. But I have hope and I think I see signs of desperation and despair on the other side.