Ready or not, here he comes. Despite the magical thinking of some shell-shocked liberal folk who kept imagining something — something! — would happen to prevent Donald Trump from being sworn in as president of the United States, today it happens.
How bad will it be? If we are lucky, Trump will merely be an uncomfortable embarrassment, like a drunk uncle who grabs the microphone during toasts at a wedding and won't let go. That version of Trump was on display the day before the inauguration at a big soiree at Washington's Union Station. There, House and Senate Republicans, party operatives, Cabinet choices and fat-cat donors listened to Trump ramble on and free-associate.
Still talking as if he is a candidate, not a president, Trump, once again, reveled in his election victory. He claimed that he worked harder than any candidate in any election — ever. He said his win was so huge that electoral maps showing the voting results by county displayed a sea of Republican red with just a few tiny dots of Democratic blue. (He chose to ignore the reality that those blue dots are America's cities with tens of millions of people, while the swaths of red are the country's wide-open spaces where there are more cows than people.)
Pointing out his Cabinet picks in the crowd, he insisted they were the greatest of all-time, with a higher collective IQ than any other group of Cabinet officers in history. (Really? Energy Secretary-designate Rick Perry, who wanted to eliminate the department he will run until he found out what it actually does, surely is a big drag on that IQ number.) Then he talked about the concert he had just attended at the Lincoln Memorial and speculated that both the venue and the crowd size were unprecedented. (Actually, that was wrong. In 2009, a similar inaugural show was held for Barack Obama at the Lincoln shrine. It drew an audience of 400,000 and featured megastars Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce and U2.)
Between his typically preposterous boasts, Trump introduced nearly everyone in the room, including his personal party planner. He also chided donors in the hall, without naming them, who had waited until after the election to make contributions to his campaign. Oh, and he talked about how his hair might get wet and turn into a mess if rain fell on his inaugural shindig.
If Trump would merely spend the next four years bloviating, pumping up his ego and tweeting out little lies, it would be sometimes entertaining, generally tiresome and occasionally blush-inducing, but the republic would survive. Unfortunately, that is not the only Trump we will get. We will also be saddled with a president whose business interests will entangle him in a web of ethical conflicts, a president whose campaign staff is being investigated by the FBI for its possible communications with Russian officials, a president who has assembled a Cabinet — brilliant or not — that is stocked with Goldman Sachs billionaires, servants of the oil industry and at least a couple of buffoons.
Scariest of all is the Trump who is incurious about intelligence briefings, who, in fact, has indicated he believes he already knows more about our complex world than the nation's intelligence agencies (which he has compared to Nazis). This is the Trump who has made loose talk about using nuclear weapons, who has disparaged American allies and has a boy crush on Vladimir Putin. This is the Trump whose ignorance, arrogance, vindictiveness and impulsiveness could lead to calamity.
Time for more magical thinking — or a good, stiff drink.