Donald Trump may be having a little fun, even if his friends and foes, who are worrying about what happens on Nov. 8, are not. They’re not sure why he said he wouldn’t accept defeat, nor what, exactly, he meant. He hardly clarified his meaning to them the next day when he said he would accept the voters’ verdict “if I win.”
Therein, perhaps, lies a clue. If he wins, everything is moot. Of course he’ll accept victory, unless he channels the late William F. Buckley for a precedent. When Mr. Buckley announced that he was an unlikely candidate for mayor of New York City a half-century ago, a reporter asked what he would do first if actually elected. “Demand a recount,” he said.
Mr. Buckley, who could stretch erudition to the limit, was only kidding, poking fun at the long-shot notion that he could actually be elected mayor of Gotham. The Donald actually has a shot at being elected president of the United States, but he might have been having a little fun, too, at the expense of those who think there’s no room in a presidential election for humor or wit. He’s no doubt enjoying the hysteria.
He’s not likely to lead a regiment of rednecks and what in earlier years were called “the wool-hat boys,” armed with pitchforks, stones and baseball bats to march on Washington to punish someone for stealing the election. That’s not what Al Gore had in mind, either, 16 years ago when he would not accept the fact that he had lost to George W. Bush. He demanded further satisfaction, as was his right in the law.
Hillary Clinton and her Praetorian Guard, recruited from the ranks of the media, want the Donald to concede the election, not on election night when everyone but Al has conceded, but to concede it now. Several Praetorian troopers in the livery of Politico suggest that Sen. Mitch McConnell or Rep. Paul Ryan, or both, could do it for him. So far Messrs. McConnell and Ryan are saying nothing, and why should they? Despite everything the diseased organs of the media say, the nation can wait, as usual, until the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November for a verdict. It always has.
Even if they wanted to, Messrs. McConnell and Ryan cannot demand such a concession now, because hundreds of congressional races are still to be determined, and millions of the Donald’s friends are counted on to return a Republican Congress to Washington. The last thing the Republican establishment wants to do is to give those millions a reason to stay away from the polling booths. Many of them are already weighing whether such a Republican majority is worth saving.
So the Donald taunts and teases, keeping no one but the usual hysterics in actual suspense. Win or lose, he won’t break any windows on Pennsylvania Avenue. He even has a new hotel there with lots of windows. The media hysterics should take two aspirins and lie down until they feel better.