PowerPoints Aren’t an Insurrection

Was Donald Trump serious about refusing to relinquish the executive reins to Joe Biden?

No. Perhaps in his own Aqua Net-bathed head Trump was determined to go down fighting, shredding Article II along the way. But, to quote Kierkegaard, if purity of the heart is willing one thing, Trump’s heart just wasn’t in uprooting two hundred years of peaceful power transference. Why? Because of Microsoft.

No, no, I’m not referring to the Windows-powered microchip we all have installed in our deltoid muscles courtesy of the wonderful and generous Bill Gates. (May I recommend purchasing the Surface Pro 8 tablet-laptop hybrid for all of your loved ones, including your aging Peke with cataracts, this Christmas season? For some reason, I can’t keep my mind off Microsoft’s vast array of technologically superior products ever since I got my vax jab courtesy of Mr. Gates’s magnanimity. Odd.)

I’m referring to the yoke of every nine-to-five office mule: PowerPoint. Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows surrendered an email to the congressional committee investigating the January 6th Capitol attack that included a PowerPoint presentation featuring multiple schemes to thwart the Electoral College certification. The PowerPoint itself was labeled “Election fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN.” And, if you haven’t guessed by now based on Trump’s revolving-door administration and minimal accomplishments in office, the “options” were not the brainwork of nefarious geniuses.

“[VP] Pence seats Republican Electors over the objections of Democrats where fraud occurred” is one of the bulleted contingencies. Recommendations, also bulleted, include “Declare National Security Emergency” and “Foreign influence and control of electronic voting systems,” the latter of which isn’t a recommendation but a description of an unsubstantiated issue.

NB: Many journalists, after spending six years blowing up every sensational Trump rumor, are forbearing from making too much of the PowerPoint, even declining to verify its authenticity. Philip Bump of the Washington Post wrote an entire jeremiad on why his paper is refraining from treating the screenshots as real, despite his near-peers doing the converse. Susan Glasser of The New Yorker called the slides “absolutely chilling.” Even Bump’s Post colleague Robert Costa has all but assured verity of the PowerPoint. I’m going out on a very thin, tottering, half-drooping limb, in treating it as legit because it’s of a piece with the Trump brand: gimcrack, devoid of substance, two decades past its use-by date.

Along with his raging band of superfans who overran Capitol Police to slightly delay the certification process, Trump wasn’t working with a full, erm, slide deck to secure a second term. The days before January 6th, his bumbling apparatchiks scrambled to scrawl out memos—Memos! Good golly Hitler, memos!—justifying why Vice President Pence should cease from certifying Biden as the winner. Jenna Ellis, who plays a lawyer more on Twitter than real life, penned a couple documents containing legalese for why Pence should beg off the entire process because Trump felt cheated. In one Ellis memo, she asserts that an 1887 law dictating terms of summing Electoral College votes is unconstitutional, and Pence, as proctor of the ceremonial counting process, should simply declare a prorogation.

Why the Congress would go along with Pence’s dismissal is an unelaborated point, kind of like the syllogistic meme.

  1. Pence pulls a Cartman, whines, “Screw you, electors, I’m goin’ home!
  2. ??????
  3. Trump is declared president once more

About as solid a plan as resuscitating Atlantic City with a facsimile Indian mausoleum doubling as a gambling resort.

The Jan. 6th investigative committee continues putting the screws to Trump staffers to wrangle evidence of a dastardly plot to not only deny Joe Biden the presidency but overturn our very republican system. Yet all we’re seeing in the surrendered evidence is a bunch of sloppy, weakly argued rationalizations for upholding the certification count. The entire ruckus reeks of high school laziness. Trump was the teacher and his desperate retainers were students who faffed around all semester and rushed to throw something together within Microsoft’s Office suite the night before.

We’re being led—tugged, shunted, wrested with every ounce of rhetorical strength the left can muster—into believing that a bunch of cut-rate schemers nearly brought our country to ruin. Media pot stirrers continue to suggest we were on the verge of Roman disaster—and that a Trump-led overthrow is inevitable. John Heilemann of Game Change fame claims “[there are] 30 million people right now who are ready to take up arms” to put Trump back on the throne, like Royalists in the Vendée. That many of these neo-Legitimists are now left to molder in a dirty DC dungeon doesn’t assuage Heilemann’s concern. That many more are bound for gaols across the country is of no moment.

Americans have largely forgotten about January 6th because they recognize from the gross of available footage it was a fracas of incompetency that was more Woodstock ‘99 than Kristallnacht. And Trump’s inner circle was even less coordinated in their half-baked contrivances to hold onto the saddle. If politics is, as Indira Gandhi said, the art of acquiring and holding power, then Trump, after four wasted years in the Oval, was running the Knoedler Gallery of ruthless realpolitik.

The head of our government being stymied by his own ineptness to break constitutional precedent is a great thing. It proves our government can still function as intended by the Founders. May we always have presidents as maladroit, lazy, and ineffectual.

When the chips are down, bet on America inertia. Comfort in stasis is our highest virtue.

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Taylor Lewis

Taylor Lewis writes from Virginia.

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