I have long believed that there is a real possibility that President Trump won’t complete his current term of office. My thought is that he will leave of his own accord, although there are clearly wild-card events that might cause this to happen involuntarily. Regardless of these hypotheticals, he almost certainly won’t run again in 2020.
The President just gave some very revealing interviews as part of his 100-day status review. In particular he told two separate interviewers that he really misses his old life, that he loved it and that it was far easier than his current job. Possibly other Presidents had similar thoughts from time to time, but few had such a different life to recall. For most of them, unlike Trump, being President was the culmination of a lifetime’s effort. Only Eisenhower comes to mind for whom this clearly wasn’t so, although a few Vice-Presidents who assumed office unexpectedly also were ambivalent about their new circumstances. Andrew Johnson and Harry Truman are good examples.
Trump is clearly not an introspective person but it will slowly seep in that this might be how he spends the rest of his life. And increasingly, he won’t like that prospect. He appears to be vigorous and active but he will shortly be 71 years old, an age when most of us look toward a life of more leisure than hard work. That is not how anyone would describe the Presidency even in the best of times.
His problem will be how to extricate himself without dishonor. Reportedly, the consequential pain and dismay of associates who have tied their future to his would not be much of a deterrent. On occasion, he has been ruthless in severing professional relationships that no longer serve his purpose. Governor Christie is a prime example. Moreover his family would no doubt be delighted, assuming that he doesn’t come across as weak or cowardly on leaving office voluntarily. The trick will be to find a plausible excuse. A medical reason would be the obvious one, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards unless a pure subterfuge is undertaken.
Of course I am not alone in this speculation about the President’s future. Odds makers in the United Kingdom have long had a betting proposition on this topic that has attracted many punters. Actually their hard-headed assessment of the likelihood of Trump completing his current term has slightly improved in recent weeks, but the odds are still only a bit over 50%. And the improvement relates mostly to receding chances of impeachment rather than other personal or programmatic factors.