Silently accused by thousands of Republicans of tainting the November mid-term elections, President Trump has to be weighing the personal and public cost-benefits of resigning now while he’s still ahead. It would be his most spectacular, imaginative, and unexpected showmanship on the nation’s political stage. It would top the worldwide publicity accorded President Richard Nixon’s precedent-setting resignation August 9, 1974.
Trump’s CEO experience and smarts have to make him aware that three dishonorable and deplorable reasons could drive him out of the White House before his first term is up: 1) impeachment; 2) an ego-crushing removal in under the 25th Amendment for being unable to discharge the “powers and duties of his office;” or 3) the utter humiliation of a landslide defeat in the 2020 election even by a third-rate Democrat.
MSNBC’s Joe (“Morning Joe”) Scarborough just predicted in a Washington Post op-ed that he won’t run for re-election in 2020 so “Republicans on Capitol Hill can relax” about those midterm fears.
Trump is also savvy enough to recognize that by resigning (after most primaries), he would avoid any of these ignominious fates. And, as President Ford said when Nixon resigned, the “long national nightmare” would be over. Ford pardoned him a month later from doing prison time for any Watergate crimes he “has committed or may have committed” while president.
So, aside from these three strong reasons for resigning, Trump has to be weighing at least 38 other solid ones from his point of view of events for leaving with respect from his voter base, opponents, and the rest of a worried nation and world. Too, the Gallup poll just gave him an upward nudge with a 39% approval rating. Getting out while the getting is good is, after all, what shrewd corporate executives do to cut their losses before a board of directors does it for them.
By contrast, Nixon’s approval rating had dropped to 24% the week he departed after the two years at ruinous taxpayer expense it took to pry him from the White House, thanks to pigheadedness, pride—and, probably no decent job offers. Although he caused a divisive national uproar and expanded the Vietnam war, Nixon started the precedent for future presidents to resign rather than be driven from office.
Nixon also wound up in Bergen County (N.J.), a pariah to politicians and social life, though he did produce nine books bought by a dwindling, diehard audience. He was seemingly tolerated only by a few world leaders when he thrust himself upon their hospitality as a self-styled foreign-policy “mandarin”. It’s scarcely the luxurious or respected exit Trump would ever choose.
Now, few seem to look at Trump’s situation from his perspective as a former corporate mover-and-shaker. In that world, a resignation is never unusual when a new CEO or senior executive recognizes early on that the job is a bad fit. High-powered, successful careers have narrow windows of opportunity or much longevity. They merely call up a head-hunter or drop a discreet hint in their network that they’re “looking” for something more challenging and rewarding.
Like those executives, Trump has been signaling for months he wants out and the sooner the better. In his view, dozens of practical reasons exist for returning to his sphere of knowledge and influence. Here are 20 of his more obvious workplace dissatisfactions:
- Yearning for the past of fun, freedom, and the sheer high of finding and closing major financial and real estate deals. Near his 100thday, a wistful Trump admitted to a Reuters reporter about life locked into the presidential “cocoon”: “I loved my previous life. I had so many things going. … I like to drive [but] I can’t drive any more.”
- An impossible quick-study to master history, foreign affairs, Congressional politics, and presidential duties whether approving the massive and minute annual federal budget or signing those 1,000-page bills of legalese designed by lobbyists and Republican party leaders. As Trump’s first wife Ivana just told the New York Post: “I don’t think he probably knew how much is involved of being the president. It’s so [much] information. You have to know the whole world.”
- Suffering unwanted fawning or directives from insufferable major donors and know-it-alls both inside and outside the Oval Office.
- Unending implacable animosity and daily fault-finding from both left and right media, especially lectures about how to be a president from The New York Times and Washington Posteditorial and op-ed writers. Perhaps the most aggravating are hectoring by self-important television commentators and talk-show hosts such as Stephen Colbert and Samantha Bee, or being lampooned on Saturday Night Live
- Being blamed for costing taxpayers millions on the Mueller probe and even millions more if it results in impeachment proceedings—and possible prison upkeep if a Senate trial convicts him of high crimes and misdemeanors. Bill Clinton’s impeachment cost taxpayers nearly $4 million in today’s dollars, and inordinate time spent away from running the country.
- Transformation from being a Boss-of-the-Year in business to the Boss from Hell in the White House. A sampling: outbursts of frustration and fury, paranoia, constant major and minor complaints on Twitter, cursing major media coverage, and raging about staff (“I hate everyone in the White House!”).
- High turnover of staff. By March, 39 essential senior staff had left the White House. No numbers have been reported about the lower ranks except for Trump firing the chief usher, vital for serving First Family household needs.
- Few remaining trustworthy staff and intimates. Too many have turned gossips or whistleblowers relating perceived views about his shortcomings to the media and personal circles.
- Enduring poor vetting by White House staffers of nominees and appointees for major administration and federal court positions.
- Being blamed for letting warhawks—in Congress, his Cabinet, both parties, multinational corporations, military-industrial-surveillance lobbyists—demand pursuit and financial support of unending wars instead of attention and spending on domestic needs.
- Refereeing Cabinet member differences, ambitions, jealousies, bloviation, greed, especially having to defer to military members’ experience. There’s also having to suffer those with ill-disguised contempt for his knowledge and expertise in their departments despite his nominating them to supply it.
- Putting up with Cabinet albatrosses from a dearth of candidates: the unctuous attorney-general Jeff Sessions, the war-loving, second-guessing National Security advisor John Bolton, and, now, legal advice from the pompous headline-seeker Rudy Giuliani.
- Accusations of taking excessive time off. In 2017, he fled White House and national chaos and foreign crises for 117 days of vacation, 90 of them playing golf.
- Hating to live and work in the White House. With a realtor’s keen sense and his sumptuous and comfortable other residences, he has called it “a real dump”. Despite its priceless location and furnishings, the White House has historic physical defects disturbing to residents, servants, Marines, Secret Service, and work staff. Aside from the misery of enduring D.C.’s summer heat and swampy humidity, it’s always been cockroaches, mice, ants, spiders, leaks, and clogged plumbing.
- Unending and tiring official travel in a noisy, nosey, overcrowded Air Force One headed for disagreeable or detested political or international destinations. Helicopter hopping has to be a safety concern, given Congress and state legislatures refusal to control sales of military hardware to civilians. Today, the possibility that drones and light aircraft could penetrate heightened White House security arean additional concern.
- Having to conceal reading and writing handicaps to the public: stumbling through speeches from a teleprompter, needing verbal briefings and whispered cues, or depending on crib notes when talking to dignitaries—or the indignant.
- Enduring hate-mail, death threats, and, hard by White House grounds, the activist bullhorns leading anti-Trump chants, and the would-be assassins still vaulting the White House’s iron fence.
- Worries about poisoned food creating a dependence on McDonald’s fattening fare.
- Little private life. The job’s daily complex and exhausting demands leave little time for social and family life in the White House or playing catch in the backyard with Barron and his friends.
- Emotional risks. Trump has to be aware of Nixon’s drunken night-time wanderings throughout the White House, talking to presidential portraits.
Other of these reasons for resigning now are no brainers. They are ones corporate officials rarely encounter in the privacy of corporate business and social life. But in the presidential goldfish bowl, even a sneeze “goes global” on YouTube, followed by speculation that death from pneumonia is not far off. Resignation would free Trump to live as he pleases and, into the bargain, end most outside distractions—mountains to mole hills—interfering with governing this country. Distractions are major and legion because of the nature of the presidency:
- Public pounding by the Democrats about his pre-electionbusiness activities with Russia and hounding by the Mueller investigation of pre-inaugurationactivities.
- Despair that fairly common business practices, uncovered and emphasized by that investigation, won’t be understood by the public and most media, in Congressional hearings, or by a grand jury. That the impact for financial protection he’s built for himself his family may be destroyed. Too, it has begun putting other relatives into an uncomfortable limelight: comparing the treatment of his in-laws now seeking citizenship to that of thousands of other immigrants either deprived of that right or deported under laws strictly enforced, started during Obama’s presidency.
- Fears of litigation involving past close relationships might lead to adverse and significant financial consequences.
- Spending time, energy, and millions for re-election to this thankless, mind-bending, and killing job.
- Using face time and energy helping ungrateful Republican candidates who regard him as a significant obstacle to winning the 2018 midterms and, thus, losing control of Congress.
- Enduring thousands of anti-Trump demonstrators whose ugly chants and profane signs spoil political rallies and public appearances, which block traffic everywhere, particularly the Mar-a-Largo grounds in Florida and his New York City home. Little enthusiasm undoubtedly exists for a July 13 state visit to Britain. It is readying millions for “epic street protests” so the President will see: “…that Londoners hold their liberal values of freedom of speech very dear,” as its mayor noted.
By contrast, Trump has to be considering all the pleasurable, exciting, and profitable reasons for release from such time-consuming, health-threatening, irksome, dangerous, and onerous burdens of White House toil. It would mean returning to the familiar, fulfilling, and challenging world of billion-dollar opportunities and lavish lifestyles of the powerful and wealthy drivers in world commerce.
- He has to be aggravated he’s not earning seven-figure salaries with princely stock options, feared and respected by employees, the fairly short hours of decision-making because of a trusted and competent staff. And being accompanied everywhere by a device triggering a nuclear wipeout of all living things.
His $400,000 earnings are paltry for 24/7 hours of overwhelming, non-stop domestic and foreign decision-making. He has to be supplementing job expenses with his own money because he’s only allocated $100,000 for travel, $50,000 for extra expenses, and $19,000 for entertainment. Who leads major corporations with such an expense account?
- He had to know before seeking the presidency that an ex-president’s severance package is a colossal departure from those of corporate executives. To prevent post-presidential poverty, as was the case with Jefferson, Grant, and Truman, a 1958 law provides a $207,800 annual pension and free, instant treatment at any military hospital. In the mercurial cycles of the financial and business world, if Trump should fall on hard times, those benefits—along with Social Security cheques—would mean survival, as most recipients know well.
Yet what corporate retirement program includes the largess, tangible or not, that Trump would reap as an ex-president:
- Lifetime Secret Service protection for himself and immediate family, a support staff, office space, travel funds, and franking privileges.
- He also gets a presidential library. It will store Twitter tweets, supportive documents, letters and photographs, golf trophies, YouTubes of rallies, speeches, travel events—and mementoes from admirers at home and abroad.
- Being called “Mr. President” for a lifetime.
- Long-term public fame. The positives are autograph requests, box seats at major athletic events, the best tables at the world’s finest restaurants, and ending sneers about his golfing handicap, or that he owns 17 courses—so far.
- Six-figure cheques for speeches at functions for Wall Street financiers, corporate tycoons, military-industrial leaders, construction kingpins, hospitality and recreation billionaires.
- The vengeful joy of turning down invitations from world leaders who either despised him or barred him from visiting (e.g., Great Britain) and accepting those from countries that genuinely liked and respected him.
Last, some of the most compelling reasons Trump may have to resign now involve returning to private and professional life. They would bring incalculable satisfactions, a few triumphs and some failures, but a world in which he’s most knowledgeable and comfortable and, now, willing to explore new vistas:
- Resuming person direction of his billion-dollar real-estate empire, perhaps adding hotels and golf courses even in Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. He also will benefit from vast business opportunities and easier access to capital from having been a U.S. President.
- Financing syndicated television programs and movies.
- Residuals from any documentary films (perhaps by Ken Burns) about his life and times.
- Hiring a ghostwriter to write a few books earning a few thousand in royalties and maybe having one (e.g., Resign or Be Fired?) make The New York Times best-seller list.
- Still being considered “hot copy” by worldwide media and, like Truman, able to issue blunt and honest views on everythingand, then, to chuckle at backlash headlines forced to include his name.
- Dropping weight and stress levels, making trimness great again.
- Going to church—or anywhere else in the world—only by choice, not political demands.
- Being able to drive a car again.
With this litany of good reasons, Trump could well decide “what’s not to like” about resigning before the curtain comes down and his audience leaves without applauding. He would be helping a desperately unhappy and overwhelmed future president, but right now, he would be serving—and saving—this country at the same time.
Barbara G. Ellis, Ph.D., is the principal of a Portland (OR) writing/pr firm. A veteran professional writer and editor (LIFE magazine, Washington, D.C.Evening Star, Beirut Daily Star, Mideast Magazine), she also was a journalism professor (Oregon State University/Louisiana’s McNeese State University). A nominee for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in history (The Moving Appeal), she contributes to such online websites as Truthout and Counterpunch, as well as DissidentVoice, Global Research, and OpEdNews—and is a political and environmental activist.