Donald Trump is unwaveringly campaigning against the US election. But the man who stages his presidency as a show has a new problem: the audience turns away.
It has now been a month since US election night and the 30 days in Washington were dominated by Donald Trump’s adjustment disorder.
Because the tender ego of the loser in the election should not be harmed, the recognition of the result, the process of handing over power, and even some state affairs were slowed down in the capital. The result: Not only the president himself, but also the capital and nation have been stuck in a strange limbo for a month – and somehow I am too.
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And yet a great development is taking place behind it that is significant. If you take a closer look, you can see how Trump’s power is beginning to shrink.
Don’t get me wrong: Donald Trump is of course still president – and even as a lame duck he can still move or do a lot in the last few meters if he wants to.
But his power is not only fed by his office, but also by the attention he has always been able to attract like no other. And this second source of power is just drying up a little more day by day. This does not apply in the parallel world of his disciples, who are moving even closer to him in the face of alleged electoral fraud. I speak of his attention from the general public.
It started shortly after Biden’s victory was declared on November 7th. The next president came to the fore, the bad loser continued to come to the fore every day. The tweets got less attention, the hustle and bustle of Trump slipped further back in the evening news. There was also a corona escalation that the incumbent president simply does not want to comment on.
Trump is still ubiquitous, but no longer as powerful. Often times this month I have the impression that I am watching the larger than life Donald Trump shrink and shrink and shrink.
Everyone has their own way of dealing with this new reality. This is a challenge for the media, which have not only revolved around him for four, but five and a half years.
Stephen Colbert, the most poisonous of the great American late-night comedians, takes a bizarre approach: He still talks non-stop about Trump, but no longer mentions him by name. If he shows newspaper reports in his monologue, the excerpts from the president’s surname will simply be T ****.
I also notice it in myself: the last time I was in the White House, I was almost a little shocked when suddenly a marine stood in front of the door to the West Wing. He always takes a position there when the President is in the Oval Office. Oh, I thought, he’s coming to the office after all!
Because Trump has been in the White House for a month. Hardly any appointments, no trips, except for a wreath-laying ceremony and a few rounds of golf. The commander-in-chief is currently in charge of the remote control and telephone. Around the West Wing it is noticeably emptier than usual.
As I had just left the complex, Trump surprisingly published a video in which he spent 46 minutes talking about the alleged election fraud.
Back at my desk I looked at the work that began with the sentence that it was “perhaps his most important speech”, but quickly made it clear that the President was only ruminating over and over again the same unsubstantiated or long refuted allegations that I had already heard from Rudy Giuliani and Co. have heard several times. I struggled to hold out 45 minutes of Trump distortion.
Of course, I stuck to it anyway, that’s my job, and compared his claims with the facts. (If you have a need, this way please.) It was interesting that CNN did not show a scene of the president’s most extensive appearance since the election – the station would not have dared to do that recently. The speech did not appear on the front pages of the big papers on Thursday. Trump, the attention magnet, is losing power.
The interplay between Trump and the media, when it comes to the story of a supposedly great election fraud, is now often limited to the President distributing video clips from the niche broadcasters OAN and Newsmax, which further weave his fantasies.
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Of course: Americans and the global public are still staring at his tweets and appearances, here with horror, there with ecstasy, but on almost all sides with a certain fascination. But the urgency is decreasing. Corona is raging, a new president has been elected, but while I scroll through Trump’s tweets while writing, I only discover messages about alleged electoral fraud. This show is a bit off.
The fact that the president wants to steal the election by all means is no longer the biggest story in Washington. That sounds crazy, but I think that’s a good thing.
Donald Trump will also use the last 50 days of his presidency to sabotage and test borders. He could pardon those around him – and possibly himself. He will put a few more obstacles in the way of Joe Biden, maybe want to steal the show on the day of his inauguration by announcing a candidacy for 2024 – the addiction for attention is growing after The withdrawal that is now beginning will probably have a full impact.
Of course we will continue to look at what the president does power. But it is okay if we pay less attention to what he does says.
In my opinion, that was always the biggest mistake in reporting on Trump: that the public jumped at every provocation by Donald Trump. That much more was paid attention to what he says and less to what he does.
The first month after the election shows that a new challenge is waiting for him and for us a chance: to take Trump seriously without playing every stolen game, like the fairy tale of the stolen election.