Trump strolls by himself in the White House lawn. It’s already dark. After a while he goes back inside and into the Oval Office. He sits at his desk.
Trump – I could’ve been more forceful. Melania’s right. Why wasn’t I? That’s my ghosts coming back to haunt me. Moral beacon, she says. Hmm. How do you do that? There’s no way in hell that I’ll ever fill those shoes. I don’t see it. I can make us some money, that I can do, but moral beacon?
I think I can win this trade war, I’m pretty sure about that. And I’m sure I can get most NATO members to pay up their share of defense spending. And then there’s the tax cut. That’s made a lot of people happy. And tax receipts may be even higher because of it, it’s happened before. Not that I haven’t pissed off a good share of folks, too, but that’s part of my shtick.
He now looks at the portrait of Andrew Jackson on the wall to his left. He gets up and goes to stand before it. After a moment, he crosses to sit on one of the chairs by the fireplace.
Trump – Not everyone has been a great president. I’m sure I won’t be the worst.
Do I like Putin? He’s a smooth operator, so I do like him. But Melania’s point is that, in the clutch, I blinked. And she’s right. Being the president, I can be bossy with everyone under me. I can say whatever I want and get away with it. From here on out, and for the rest of my days, I’ll have a security detail protecting me and I’ll be able to say what I damn well please. Not that that’s ever stopped me.
So why did I hold back when the reporter asked the question in Helsinki? Did I want to be nice to Putin? Yes. Does he have something on me? No. He does not. But my deepest fear is that the hacking was more extensive than it’s been determined. And if that is so, then the argument that Putin swayed the election becomes stronger. Even if it can’t be proven. And he could say that he put me in the White House.
He shifts his weight on his seat.
My failing has been to not have been willing to publicly accept that possibility. If Mueller ever came out with evidence of larger scale Russian machinations, then my election, and that of all Republican office holders, would be tarnished with the stain of illegitimacy. Cries would rise for me to surrender my post to Hillary. Of course, I wouldn’t do that because there would be no proof. But I would go down in the history books as the interloper president.
He gets up and returns to his seat behind his desk.
Trump – I’ve liked it up here. It’s been stressful but it’s been a lot of fun. Deep down I’ve always felt that I got in on a fluke. Lost the popular vote by a good margin… which I’ve tried to blame on the undocumented.
I can come up with some good ones, can’t I? I’m feeling comfortable in the gig and wouldn’t want to give it up. They’ll have to kick me out. I don’t see how.
He pivots his chair to look out the window.
I can see why Putin wouldn’t want to show his hand. He knows I’m insecure in my position… yep… he knows that… and he would like to work it to his advantage. He can just keep denying he knew anything and, in the meantime, do all he can to cover up the evidence so Mueller can’t get to it. Whatever that might be. But he could bring it out at any moment, if he so wished. He wouldn’t dare show it to me, though… no, he’s too smooth for that. But who knows what he’s capable of.
He sits back and runs his fingers through his hair.
Trump – Would everything I’ve done be invalidated? Good question. Everything I’ve done being erased. Wow. As if I’d never done anything. The legal battles would be long and arduous, since every election would be contested. The whole country would be thrust into a crisis.
He leans forward, elbows on knees, lacing his hands. He’s tired. He looks at his watch. It’s 10 pm. He gets up and stands by the window, looking out.
Putin had never interfered with an American election as he did in mine. Not that we know of… not on this scale. But he saw the debates, the chaos and free for all, and he saw his opportunity. He must’ve said, ‘I can fish in troubled waters’… and he threw in his hook. I suspect it had my name on it.
He crosses his arms.
I could do what Melania is saying, do a complete turn around and embrace the Mueller probe. But I’m scared. Scared they will find something… and I can’t get that monkey off my back.
A knock at the door.
Trump – Who is it?
Melania – It’s me.
Trump – Come on in.
She steps in and goes to his side. She circles his waist with her arm and leans against his shoulder. They both stare out the window.
Melania – Pretty night.
Trump – Yes.
He puts his arm around her shoulders, presses her to him.
Melania – What have you been thinking?
Trump – Legitimacy.
She says nothing, then rubs gently the back of his neck.
Trump – I got in, somehow, but something is missing.
They remain standing for a moment.
Melania – Let’s go to bed. It’s late.
Oscar Valdes. Oscarvaldes.net. available on anchor.fm, apple podcasts and buzzsprout.