Donald Trump or Bruce Springsteen?
Here’s a recent headline you may have missed
Not about another non-debate or the Supreme Court or the latest grim viral toll, nor about the latest hurricane or wildfire. This one is about Trump’s plans for November 4.
At a rally in Georgia on October 16, our ̶F̶e̶a̶r̶f̶u̶l̶ Fearless Leader suggested that if he loses the election, he’s outta here:
“Could you imagine if I lose? My whole life — what am I going to do? I’m going to say, I lost to the worst candidate in the history of politics! I’m not going to feel so good. Maybe I’ll have to leave the country, I don’t know.”
The famously thin-skinned Donald, who loves to dish out humiliation to those who fail to fawn on him, has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to accepting criticism, let alone responsibility. But losing to Joe Biden? That just might prompt him to turn his back on the country he purports to love.
Trump’s been building up to this declaration by threatening his supporters in individual states with emotional if not physical abandonment. On October 1, he told the crowd at his rally in Duluth, Minnesota, “If I lose Minnesota, I’m never coming back. I don’t care — I’m never coming back.” To which Amy Klobuchar had a succinct response: “Goodbye.” But he’s made similar remarks in Iowa, Ohio, North Carolina, and even his second-home-state of Florida.
He’s not the only one shopping for one-way tickets
Throwing voters into a choice more painful than deciding whether or not to hug their anti-masker uncle at the next (awkward) family event, should the Current Occupant win the election, we stand to lose The Boss. Bruce Springsteen, rockstar legend and American icon, says he’ll be on the next plane to Australia if all the polls are as wrong as they were in 2016 and Trump pulls off another victory. Mötley Crue drummer Tommy Lee likewise has an exit strategy, a perk of having been born in Greece, should Trump win:
“Dude, I swear to god if that happens then I’m coming over to visit the UK. I’m out of here. I’ll go back to my motherland, go back to Greece and get a house on one of the islands.”
Could the stakes in this election get any higher?
But Trump’s just kidding, right?
I suspect he’d say so, if he thought it was to his advantage. Nothing makes his day like mocking people for taking him at his word. But as Jonathan Chait points out in his October 17 article in New York Magazine Intelligencer, Trump doesn’t really make jokes. Not in the way normally socialized humans do, anyway. His jokes exist to mask his unease or to lash out at those he sees as his tormentors (an ever-widening pool).
As others have noted, it’s quite possible it’s not so much humiliation at losing to Joe Biden that would turn Trump into an expatriate as it is the prospect of him landing in very hot water once the shield of the presidency is torn out of his wee hands. Chait writes,
“Perhaps one thing on the president’s mind is the developing criminal case against him. He faces serious legal jeopardy by prosecutors in Manhattan and New York State for what seems to be, on its face, fairly cut-and-dried criminal fraud in his private business dealings.”
So who knows if he’s kidding about leaving the country, just like who knows if he’s serious about refusing to commit to a peaceful transition of power in January? One of the more glaring norm-busters of the Trump reign is that nobody knows if he means anything he says — or that he is completely comfortable with saying and meaning one thing at one moment, and its utter opposite the next. Still, when certain of his themes begin to repeat, such as sidestepping any disavowal of white supremacy extremists (i.e. “stand back and stand by” to the Proud Boys) or dropping hints that he’s never going away, it’s wise to take heed. He is, after all and like it or not, the President.
For now. The Department of Justice does not charge sitting presidents with crimes as a matter of policy. But that policy doesn’t apply to former presidents, and we can safely assume that under a Biden administration we won’t even be able to spot Bill Barr in the rearview mirror.
So where would the Orange Refugee go?
Bruce Springsteen and Tommy Lee, both of whom inspire vastly more confidence in their words than the Current Occupant, have their respective havens chosen: Oz for The Boss, some lovely Greek isle for Mr. Lee.
But for The Donald and presumably, at least some of his family? Where might he go that is suitably appealing, would welcome him, and most especially does not have an extradition agreement with the U.S.?
There are actually many countries that do not extradite to America. But in terms of continents, Trump’s options are limited. Forget Europe, except for one tiny corner that we’ll get to in a minute. Most of Latin America, same thing (not that he’d want to be on the wrong side of his own wall anyway). Australia and New Zealand? No dice.
There are lots of non-extraditing nations in Africa to choose from: Angola, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, Sudan, and many more. But we all know what Trump calls those countries. He could consider Indonesia, Micronesia, or the Marshall Islands, but I doubt the golfing would be up to his standard.
Afghanistan is out for obvious reasons. Ditto Syria. China’s a no-go, and North Korea is too weird even for Trump. The Middle East is problematic, although Saudi Arabia seems to have the right attitude about both The Donald and women. Not sure Ivanka would be on board with that choice.
Of course you’ve already thought of Russia. But really, even in that vast nation is there room for both Putin and Trump? For all Donald’s adulation of Vlad, could he really handle playing second fiddle? And once he’s no longer so useful, why would Putin want him hanging around anyway?
Back to that tiny corner I mentioned
There is one place where Trump might think about claiming sanctuary: the Vatican. It’s tiny, sure, but it’s kind of in Italy, right? They have wifi and Twitter and probably Diet Coke. Best of all, the Vatican does not extradite.
And just on the offchance that it should one day occur to Trump, the Vatican would make an excellent place to seek forgiveness.
We can hope. But hey, Don, if it comes down to it, I’ll help you pack.