Donald Trump’s False Victory Tour

How do you gown to declare faux victory? How do you convey the picture of popping out on high when the highest itself is shrouded in clouds and fog?

In the small hours of Wednesday morning, as information organizations warned that it may very well be days earlier than the election outcomes have been identified, President Donald J. Trump walked onto a makeshift stage within the East Room of the White House for his second within the highlight and introduced, primarily, that, so far as he was involved, it seemed like they’d received, and so they didn’t perceive why vote counting was nonetheless happening. He did so by stripping down a few of his typical stagecraft, turning what may need been a coronation extravaganza into one thing that seemed much more like a warfare room.

Against what looks like the now requisite military of American flags — not even one full row, however two — he arrived together with his spouse, Melania, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence and his spouse, Karen.

They have been preceded by the flotilla of Trump youngsters, who took their locations on the entrance of the viewers. They nearly all went darkish: Ivanka wore a black double-breasted pantsuit; Kimberly Guilfoyle, black capri pants and a high; Lara Trump, a navy pantsuit. Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, wore a black gown. The solely punctuation marks have been Tiffany, who wore a Republican purple pantsuit, and Don Jr., who was in vivid blue, to match the flags.

That had been a scene of somewhat shellshocked brightness, and not-quite coordination. This was more like a gold-chandeliered, stars and stripes bunker. It was accessorized with the implicit suggestion: We’re not going anywhere. We’re hunkering down and digging in. Take this thing to the Supreme Court, if necessary.

Black is a complicated political color, with its associations of elitism and funerals, doom and threat. It tends to be avoided by family members whose role it is to show the softer, human side of a candidate or leader; to surround him (or her), literally, in a hazy glow. But the creeping darkness mirrored the mood of the country and President Trump’s own dark accusations: of voter fraud and election thievery.

That’s an old presidential tradition, hearkening back to Eisenhower, who shed his coat at his second inauguration to stand unshielded (at least by wool) in front of the world. Kennedy did the same, as did almost every President after him, until Obama. It’s a little visual sleight of hand, a nod to old traditions and stereotypes of virility and strength and a certain internal heat. That guy doesn’t need a coat: He makes his own warmth.

Certainly, Mr. Biden has tried. Whether it catches fire as the last votes are counted, or is doused by the cold water of this divided country, remains to be seen.

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