Donald Trump’s Tweet Thursday morning “just asking” about delaying the presidential election might be a shark bump ahead of him devouring democracy, but it seems much more likely it is the pathetic last gasp of a desperate, losing politician: The moment where Trump publicly came to grips with the fact that his reelection campaign is swirling down the golden toilet.
There’s no cavalry coming this time. No V-shaped recovery, vaccine, “hidden voters,” or any other deus ex machina that might miraculously allow him to make up the precious time and opportunity he has squandered for the last three-plus years. Changing campaign managers isn’t going to shake things up, and there won’t be a convention “bounce” to help, either. It just might all be over but the shouting. In his toothless threat this morning, Trump is admitting that the news isn’t fake and the polls aren’t bogus. That he’s going down in flames. Bigly. And this is also Trump trying to prearrange a scapegoat—in this case, mail-in ballots—for when he is assigned to history as a very bad one-term president.
If this is Trump conceding to the apparently inevitable, it’s also a dangerous time. People who are forced to finally admit imminent defeat are prone to outbursts and desperate behavior. When those people are the president, and especially this president, things can get dicey.