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As Donald Trump fights to keep his job, he’s stopped doing it

It has been eleven days since Americans cast their votes in the US election, and more than a week since Joe Biden was declared the winner.Donald Trump’s campaign has still produced no evidence of widespread voter fraud, and its legal challenges are going nowhere.The facts here are not complicated. Mr Trump lost, and in the…

It has been eleven days since Americans cast their votes in the US election, and more than a week since Joe Biden was declared the winner.

Donald Trump’s campaign has still produced no evidence of widespread voter fraud, and its legal challenges are going nowhere.

The facts here are not complicated. Mr Trump lost, and in the end, it wasn’t particularly close. Unless some proof of unprecedented malfeasance suddenly materialises out of thin air, there is no path for him to overturn the result. None.

Yet the President remains in denial. Egged on by staffers, Republican politicians and media figures who share his delusions, Mr Trump continues to waste his final days in power fuming at news networks for reporting the obvious, and tweeting out misinformation in all-caps.

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That second tweet is wrong, by the way. Completely false. Didn’t happen.

Do we care that the President of the United States is telling blatant lies about his own country’s democratic process? I feel like that should at least register somewhere on the outrage scale.

How long must we spend indulging this preposterous tantrum, as though it’s normal for a 74-year-old man to behave so childishly?

When will it be acceptable to demand that Mr Trump suck it up, put his battered ego aside and get back to work?

Do we wait until his final frivolous lawsuit is struck down? Until next month, when the last state certifies its results? Until December 14, when the Electoral College meets? Until January 3, when the next Congress is seated? Or until January 20, when Mr Biden is sworn in?

You might detect more than a smidgen of frustration in my tone here. And yes, as someone who gives a damn about the US, I am frustrated. Because Mr Trump is so focused on a futile attempt to keep his job that he has stopped doing that job, at a moment when Americans desperately, desperately need leadership from him.

According to Johns Hopkins University, the US recorded more than 180,000 new cases of the coronavirus yesterday. Another record. More than six times the number of infections Australia has suffered throughout the entire pandemic, in a single 24-hour period.

The day before, it passed 150,000 for the first time. It’s been above 100,000 eleven days in a row. Infections are growing exponentially, and what always lags behind them? Deaths.

Well over a thousand Americans are dying each day, right now. The COVID Tracking Project reports 68,000 are hospitalised. COVID Exit Strategy rates the virus’s spread as “uncontrolled” in 47 out of 50 states.

Winter is weeks away, which means people will soon be clustered inside, where the virus is more easily transmitted.

With Thanksgiving approaching and no clear advice coming from the Trump administration, millions of Americans are planning to travel across the country to visit their families.

This is a disaster far beyond anything the US suffered earlier in the pandemic, and that’s saying something for a nation whose death toll is already at 245,000. It’s going to kill thousands upon thousands more Americans in the coming months.

And what is Mr Trump doing about it? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

You might have seen the President’s media conference yesterday, during which he talked up the success of Operation Warp Speed, which is his administration’s effort to accelerate the development and distribution of a coronavirus vaccine.

Earlier in the week, we learned that Pfizer’s vaccine had proven to be 90 per cent effective in clinical trials. That was, perhaps, the most significant piece of unambiguously good news anyone has reported in 2020.

And Mr Trump deserves his share of the credit. The US government has guaranteed Pfizer $US2 billion if its vaccine is effective, meaning the company was able to invest heavily in research and development, knowing there was a pay-off at the end of the process.

I really want to stress this. The news from Pfizer this week was fabulous, and the President should earn some praise for his administration’s role in facilitating it.

But even at this accelerated schedule, the vaccine will not be broadly available to the American public for months. Once approved, it’s going to healthcare workers and the most vulnerable populations first.

For the general public, we’re looking at something like April, well after the winter season. That’s not my guess, it’s what Mr Trump himself said.

The point here is that the vaccine will do practically nothing to protect the US against the virus for some time yet. For the intervening period, between now and whenever mass vaccination is achieved, the nation remains vulnerable.

The President has no plan for that period. He’s essentially going to let the virus spread unabated for months, as he waits for the vaccine to arrive.

“I will not be going to a lockdown. Hopefully the, the ah – whatever happens in the future, who knows which administration it will be, I guess time will tell – but I can tell you this administration will not go to a lockdown,” he said during that media conference.

“The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself. I’ve said it many times.

“When you look at what happens during a lockdown, I say it very loudly, it’s horrible.

“This administration will not go, under any circumstances, into lockdown.”

These are the same talking points we heard on the campaign trail a month ago, when daily infections were at 60,000 and Mr Trump kept insisting the US was “turning the corner”.

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By the way, that media conference was the first discernible piece of actual work Mr Trump had done all week.

It was the third time we had seen the President since his election defeat. First, on Sunday, he left the White House to play golf. Second, on Veterans Day, he showed up more than 20 minutes late to a service honouring America’s fallen soldiers.

In between, he found time to fire his defence secretary, Mark Esper, for no apparent reason beyond being insufficiently loyal.

That’s it. The rest of Mr Trump’s time was spent on media commentary and baseless claims about election fraud.

“Any suggestion that the President has given up on governing is false,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said this week, in response to US media noting his boss’s lack of productivity.

“Just as he promised, President Trump is fighting hard for a free and fair election while at the same time carrying out all of his duties to put America first.”

He’s not putting America first. That would involve developing some sort of plan – anything, really – to protect his constituents from the virus until a vaccine is ready and widely available. Instead, Mr Trump is focusing on his own personal grievances, as he always does.

People’s lives are at stake here. Until he leaves office on January 20, Mr Trump is responsible for them. That is the most basic duty of the presidency.

So yeah Donald, you lost. It’s rough. Get over it, and start doing your job.

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