Trump's kingdom for a horse

For a pro-Trump senator or representative, the ultimate loyalty test is whether he or she will introduce a bill to delay the election. Game on!

The thing about being in free fall is that you never know when you’ve touched bottom.

We have a coronavirus pandemic that’s killing more than a thousand people every day. That’s a real crisis.

The Commerce Department reported at 8:30 this morning that between April and June, the pandemic caused the economy to contract by one-third. As recently as three days ago White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow was telling Fox Business News that “economic numbers are still pretty good…. The V-shaped recovery and the 20 percent second-half growth is still very much intact.” The new GDP number puts to rest any discussion of a quick recovery from this economic calamity. That’s a real crisis.

Sixteen minutes after this news President Donald Trump posted a tweet that said mail-in voting will make 2020 “the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history.” Trump doesn’t like mail-in voting because he thinks it’s bad for Republicans. In fact, there’s little evidence that mail-in voting increases fraud or that it favors Democrats. So our judges will have to call that a phony crisis.

But Trump then went on to write, “Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

In one sense, that’s a phony crisis, because Trump lacks the power to delay the presidential election past Nov. 3. The Constitution gives that authority to Congress, and in 1845 Congress passed a law (see above) setting presidential elections on the first Tuesday of November (excepting months that begin on Tuesday).

But in another sense, it’s a real crisis. It’s sufficiently outrageous for any sitting president to suggest delaying the date of his re-election that when Democratic challenger Joe Biden said in April, “Mark my words, I think [Trump] is going to try to kick back the election somehow,” conservative commentator Henry Olsen wrote the following:

Accusations such as these are a staple of the anti-Trump fever swamps. For them, it’s not enough to point out the president’s inarticulateness, crude language and lack of judgment. It’s not enough to call out the president when they disagree with Trump’s policies. Trump-haters make the president out to be evil and intent on destroying America. This rhetoric is both unfounded and harmful to democracy.

Olsen’s probably feeling a little bit foolish today.

Trump can’t delay the election, but Congress can. Is anybody in Congress so loyal to Trump that he or she will introduce a bill to delay the election? I wouldn’t rule it out. Even if a member of Congress can be found merely to defend Trump’s suggestion without acting on it, that will be, uh, significant. If introduced, legislation to delay a presidential election would of course have no hope of making it through Congress. But seeing the idea edge closer to the political mainstream is a sure sign that the bottom is not yet in sight.

Update, 4:27: No takers in Congress so far. I’m not counting members who evaded the issue by pretending Trump said something different—as did, for example, Hogan Gidley, press spokesman for Trump’s own presidential campaign, who told the New York Times Trump was “just raising a question about the chaos Democrats have created with their insistence on all mail-in voting.” The Times’ Alexander Burns, accurately and fairly, said Gidley’s was “an obviously false paraphrase of the president’s tweet, one that minimized the gravity of what Mr. Trump had said.”