Trump appears to be defeated -- now comes the scary part
Trump's planned tariffs on steel and aluminium have triggered fears of a trade war. (AFP / MANDEL NGAN)

Donald Trump will not go in peace. He will not go with dignity. He will not go without committing crimes, or at least attempting to do so. For 75 long agonizing days, Trump is still the most powerful person on the planet.

Noise will dominate today’s news cycle. Aside from the numbers themselves--which ultimately may wind up with the delicious irony of a 306-232 electoral vote loss for Trump, the same margin by which he won in 2016--the nation will hear about recounts and skirmishes and court challenges and lots of nuances about process.

None of that is cause for alarm. People are always emotional after bitter elections. Virtually all tight election results are subject to recounts, often by law. Network calls of victory do not constitute an official verdict: The arcane processes of certifying elections are the fine print of democracy. Stuff takes time.

The great threat today is the unprecedented horror of having a mentally ill man-- suffering from narcissistic personality disorder-- fully in possession of the levers of power while he grieves, rages or otherwise fails to process reality. Mary Trump, the president’s niece with a doctorate in clinical psychology, is just one among thousands of qualified mental-health experts to worry aloud about his fitness of mind.

Perhaps the largest understatement ever coming out of Trump’s mouth-- an uncommonly believable one--came July 19 when he told Chris Wallace of Fox News: “I’m not a good loser. I don’t like to lose.” He essentially repeated that in one of his rants this week.

But it’s a waste of time for commentators and pundits and politicians to recoil in horror about Trump’s words. It’s not his words -- however troubling -- that pose a danger to the nation and the world.

It’s what Trump might do, or attempt to do, in the next 75 days.

No one’s talking about it, but what do you suppose Russian President Vladimir Putin is thinking about his protégé’s defeat? You think the former KGB killer -- actually he’s still a killer in his current job -- is just shaking his head and moving on to the next thing? I don’t.

I would not want to be someone in Russian intelligence tasked by Putin with having gotten Trump reelected. That person’s relatives might already be sorting through his or her effects. But it’s unimaginable that Putin is presently sitting around idly out of respect for America’s peaceful transition of power.

Stated another way, Putin has 75 days to make use of his useful idiot. Anyone thinking Putin won’t do everything in his power to take advantage of that short window has set a new standard of naivety.

The same might be said of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, who will not be exchanging love letters with President Joe Biden. The dictator apparently played Trump like a fiddle and represents every bit the threat--probably more--that he did four years ago when President Barack Obama tried to warn his witless successor about North Korea.

Putin and Kim are just the best known of the autocrats with whom Trump has found common cause. So, while NATO partners and other allies might breathe a sigh of relief that America might return to normalcy and regain the respect of the international community, who knows what nasty deals Trump will be making with what nasty people between now and January 20?

Remember, it is widely known that Trump needed to turn to foreign lenders and benefactors after his repeated financial disasters rendered him largely unbankable in the U.S. You think Trump, Jared Kushner and others in his inner circle aren’t on their speed dials trying to cut deals while Trump still has the power to deliver great treasure to those foreign interests?

It is highly unlikely that much of what can go wrong behind the scenes for the next 75 days will make it to the news. Rest assured it will hardly be the stuff of presidential news briefings or Tweets.

But the whole world knows that Donald Trump is facing an avalanche of criminal and civil lawsuits the minute he is no longer protected by an Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) mandate that inoculated him from criminal prosecution. Never has a president exiting office had more to lose as a consequence of his departure.

On the other hand, when Trump exits the White House--with or without a military escort--he won’t be leaving behind his Twitter account of 88.4 million followers. At least for the short run, he’s hardly leaving the world stage or American politics. In fact, he’s reportedly plotting to start his own television network to punish those leftists at Fox News.

Maybe someday, the dilemma for America will be determining how to provide lifetime Secret Service protection for a federal inmate, since Trump does enjoy that privilege under the Former President’s Act of 2012, which reinstated the permanency of that protection. That was signed into law, ironically enough, by President Obama.

But it’s pointless right now to be speculating about what might happen in the long-term future.

America and the world should be very concerned about the next 75 days.