So, what do you think Donald Trump is giving thanks for this year?
A) Peace and good fellowship throughout the land.
B) His thrilling campaign to overturn the election.
C) Melania’s new blond look.
I know, you’re hoping it’s going to be C. But the man is obsessed with his reelection resurrection.
“One thing has become clear these last few days, I am the American People’s ALL-TIME favorite President,” he wrote to his mailing list, a very large group of citizens who’ve gotten hundreds of missives along these lines since Election Day.
The all-important bottom line of this correspondence is that everyone should send Donald Trump $5 right away. And, of course, more is OK.
In his real outside life — the one he’ll be returning to in just a few weeks — Trump is definitely in need of those fivers. He owed tons of money when he first ran for office. Now a $400 million bill is coming due. And his prize customer, the Republican faithful, is looking a bit shaky. Republicans spent more than $23 million at Trump-owned businesses since he started his campaign for president five years ago. That’s more than 100 times as much as in the five years prior. And not necessarily a sum that will continue through his Mar-a-Lago exile.
Something needs to be done! And you cannot help but notice that currently, Trump’s one absolute prize Guernsey of a cash cow seems to be his postelection reelection campaign, “Save America.”
“Friend,” he asks in another mass email, “Will you allow the CORRUPT Democrats to try to STEAL this Election and impart their RADICAL agenda on our Country? Or will you step UP and DEFEND your Country?” It’s both a plea for cash and a reminder that when the nation looks back on the Trump era it will see a time when capital letters ruled the earth.
But if an eager reader decided to send “Save America” a donation to “protect the integrity of this Election,” it’s hard to know where it’d go. According to an email sent under Eric’s name, the money is earmarked for “legal teams in each critical state.” Which is certainly possible. Although experts say the money could also pay consulting fees for the kids. Or even the kennel fees for the family pet, if only Trump didn’t hate dogs.
(This last bit of information has nothing to do with Save America. It’s just a sneaky way to work in another reminder that Joe Biden has two shepherds, Major, who came from a rescue center, and Champ.)
Back to the money.
Our president does have trouble hanging onto cash, whether it’s his or ours. The guy who vowed to eliminate the national debt if elected is leaving office in a fiscal year that recorded the biggest one-year debt figure ever, $3.1 trillion. And during the entire glorious four years, the national red ink went from $14.4 trillion to $21.1 trillion.
The return of Trump to his business empire is not going to solve its problems. First, because he seems very bad at handling money, and second, because he doesn’t really intend to go back to a civilian life. If he did, history suggests he’d only succeed in building another tower of overdue bills.
While the alleged Trump agenda right now is overturning the national election results, clearly the real plan is to gear up for a comeback in 2024. It’s a pretty dramatic goal. There has been only one president in U.S. history who lost reelection and then ran and won four years later. That would be Grover Cleveland.
If you’re ever talking about Trump’s political ambition, be sure to refer to it as “pulling a Grover.”
Almost everything Trump does to challenge the election returns or raise money for his next presidential campaign can trickle over to something more personal and short-term. For instance, is he going to try to collect cash for a presidential library? That’s normal for a person in his position. Even though the first noun you connect with Donald Trump is not “contemplation” or “scholarly research.”
Or even “book.”
It’s become expected for former presidents to raise money for a place to display their memorabilia, host gatherings and sponsor research. But if you get a request for a Donald Trump Library contribution, do not feel compelled to follow through. Even if they offer you a free copy of Ivanka’s “Women Who Work” or Donald Jr.’s magnum opus on “How the Left Thrives on Hate.”
Short-term, of course, it’s perfectly OK to blot this out. Spend the holidays on the easy stuff. Biden’s dogs. Don Jr.’s career options. And the inauguration — how do you think Trump will behave? Defeated presidents usually go to see their opponent get sworn in. Even Herbert Hoover, who really, really resented Franklin Roosevelt’s victory, rode with FDR from the White House to the Capitol. Didn’t talk much, just sort of sulked and stared. FDR found other ways to keep himself busy as he rode through the rapturous cheering crowd.
But Hoover-Trump is not a great comparison. Unless you can imagine Donald spending his post-presidential career working on famine relief projects.
Trump certainly regards himself now as a once and future candidate, and a recent Politico poll showed 53% of Republicans are ready to vote for him in the 2024 presidential primaries. Twelve percent prefer Mike Pence and 8% opt for Donald Jr.
I hope Pence is aware that only 4% of his party regards him as a better potential president than Junior. Really, if you want to invest in the future of any Trump minions, I’d go for a line of Rudy Giuliani hair products.
Gail Collins is an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times.