In the context of the Donald Trump presidency in the year 2020, this didn’t rank on the list of the strangest moments. But Trump’s surprise one-minute press conference at the White House on Tuesday wasn’t not weird.

“I just want to congratulate everybody,” he began. A day after his administration began formal recognition of the transition to a Joe Biden presidency, hours after Pennsylvania certified its votes for Biden, could this be a note of grudging graciousness?

Don’t be silly.

“The stock market Dow Jones industrial average just reached 30,000, which is the highest in history,” Trump went on. “That’s a sacred number, 30,000. Nobody thought they’d ever see it.” He noted it was the “48th time we’ve broken records during the Trump administration.” He left after 62 seconds, without taking questions.

Analysts speculated the certainty of Biden’s victory had moved the market to climb, so Trump wanted to run out and visibly claim a victory for himself. Victories may be hard to come by for him these days, but that doesn’t stop him from declaring them.

The pandemic’s death toll in the U.S. charges towards 260,000 amid widespread record hospitalizations, while Trump talks only about forthcoming vaccines. Roughly 12 million Americans left jobless by the pandemic will see emergency unemployment benefits end the day after Christmas, as Trump’s administration touts an economic rebound and limits the economic options of the next administration.

Then there’s the election, which Biden won by a large margin as verified in recounts, held up in court challenges, recognized (reluctantly in a self-pitying letter) on Monday by Trump’s appointed head of the General Services Administration, Emily Murphy.

Trump tweeted Monday night, seemingly endorsing the transition milestone: “We will keep up the good fight, and I believe we will prevail. Nevertheless, in the best interest of our country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.” It was as close to a concession as anyone expects Trump to ever make.

As if to prove it, by Tuesday morning he was tweeting that Trump voters who believe the election was stolen are “100% correct,” and retweeting a photo of himself beneath the phrase “I concede NOTHING!!!!!”

Five exclamation points, as if to make up in emphasis what the sentiment lacks in relevance. Trump’s concession is not required for Biden to ascend to the presidency. The transition protocols set in motion by Murphy are helpful. The certification of the votes in recent days by Pennsylvania, Nevada, Georgia and Michigan pretty much ended Trump’s long-shot attempt to convince state governments to overturn the will of the voters.

What scholars characterized as a coup attempt has failed.

Trump insists his legal challenges go on, but at this point he has lost 35 cases (and counting) while winning only one, and that one did not overturn any vote results. A Pennsylvania federal judge’s dismissal of one of Trump’s cases doubled as a response to his entire post-election effort to claim victory: “This is simply not how the constitution works.”

The judge’s words in response to Trumpian logic recalled the exasperated meme: That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works.

People have been shouting that about Trump’s approach to governing for almost four years. With shocking frequency, the acquiescence of the Republican party, the timidity of some opponents, and the cultish allegiance of his followers has led to the sobering conclusion that Trump’s way is how it works, now.

The U.S. constitutional system has long relied on guardrails built on good faith, unwritten norms and the capacity for shame of those involved. Trump exposed many of those checks to be vulnerable to shameless malice and apparent buffoonish incompetence.

During Trump’s often absurd post-election attempt to overrule voters, the continued deference of many members of his party led to fears he could be — well, if not successful, at least very damaging.

It’s clearer now he’ll be unsuccessful. Assessing damage will take time.

Tens of millions of Trump supporters believe the election was stolen from him. His clown-show coup attempt in the face of a decisive loss exposed vulnerabilities that could be exploited more subtly by a more sophisticated operation in a closer election.

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The Republican party remains captive to Trump and his base. They’ll wrestle with that immediately as some Trump supporters lobby Georgia voters to vengefully write in Trump’s name in the upcoming Senate runoff (thereby delivering control of the Senate to Democrats). They’ll wrestle with it in the future as he looms on the sidelines as the leader-in-exile of the voters they depend on.

As for Biden, he’ll now face the pandemic’s ongoing health and economic devastation, shattered international relationships, a long march back toward forward-looking policies on immigration, climate change, health care. There’s massive mistrust in government. There’s the deeply divided, and often angry, partisan cleavage of the American public.

But hey, the Dow index is high. Trump said it: Congratulations, everybody.

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