Donald Trump suggests November election isn't safe — but he's the one in trouble

Condemned prisoners don’t get to schedule their own executions.

After months of denial, Donald Trump has at last conceded that holding the November general election in the midst of a continuing pandemic could have deadly consequences.

Especially for him.

With even Fox News suggesting he’s in a double-digit hole and Republican donors diverting campaign dollars to endangered GOP senators, the president understands that his kleptocracy’s days may be numbered.

So Thursday, in a mischievous tweet his son-in-law Jared Kushner foreshadowed two months ago, Trump floated his apparent hopes for a stay of execution that would postpone the electoral reckoning scheduled for Nov. 3 indefinitely, or at least until he can arrange safe passage to some country that lacks any extradition treaty with the United States.

“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not absentee voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” the president asserted in a tweet posted minutes after his Commerce Department confirmed that the U.S. economy had embarked an unprecedented free-fall.

Our view: Donald Trump doesn’t decide whether an election will work. That’s up to voters.

But Trump has an idea for averting such an unprecedented electoral travesty: “Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote?”

Deja vu

In a country less numbed to presidential lunacy, the suggestion that Trump was contemplating an unprecedented suspension of the democratic process might have triggered the apoplectic outrage he hoped for. But Washington heard the president’s novel theories of executive omnipotence before, and his latest provocation elicited only fatigued derision from lawmakers in both parties.

“Never in the history of the country, through wars, depressions and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time, and we’ll find a way to do that again this Nov. 3,” Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told a television reporter in Kentucky, where McConnell faces a serious re-election challenge.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi limited her response to a tweet highlighting constitutional language that reserves to Congress the authority to reschedule a presidential election.

She didn’t have to spell out that neither presidents nor condemned prisoners can unilaterally postpone the reckoning a jury of their peers has ordained.

Sound and fury

This is as it should be. Trump’s extra-constitutional musings are revealing, and often disconcerting, but we should not let them divert our attention from the serious business at hand.

Governors have a pandemic to contain.

Congress has an economy to resuscitate.

And voters have a White House to exorcise.

It should come as no surprise that Trump has little enthusiasm for any of these enterprises. But  every moment he spends tweeting delusional fantasies is a moment he isn’t getting in the way of the grown-ups pursuing them.

Brian Dickerson is the editorial page editor of the Detroit Free Press, where this column originally appeared. Follow him on Twitter: @BRIANDDICKERSON

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