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The one label Trump was desperate to avoid becomes unavoidable

As a candidate, Donald Trump told Americans we'd tire of all the winning. As his term ends in a half-hour, one wonders if he's tired of all the losing.
Image: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump gestures as he boards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, on Jan. 20, 2021.Alex Brandon / AP

According to Ivana Trump, the first of Donald Trump's three wives, she suggested naming their first born child Donald Jr., but the future president initially objected.

"You can't do that!" he said. "What if he's a loser?"

For Donald Trump, "loser" appears to be the single worst label anyone can apply to another human being. It is the insult to end all insults. He has a simple worldview: there are winners and there are losers. The former deserve respect, while the latter deserve contempt. "To avoid being called a loser, he will do or say anything," said Jack O'Donnell, who ran an Atlantic City casino for Trump in the 1980s.

It's against this backdrop that a recent Paul Waldman column comes to mind.

This was always his pitch, whether it was for a hotel or a seminar or the presidency: I'm a winner, and if you give me your money or your vote, you'll be a winner, too. By the time the marks figured out that they'd been had, he'd moved on to find other suckers to take advantage of. But now, Trump is not just a loser but a world-historical loser, the epitome of loser-dom, the loser by which all other losers will be measured.

The political indictment is as brutal as it is obvious. Trump lost the popular vote twice. He was impeached twice. Four years after his political party controlled the White House, the U.S. Senate, and the U.S. House, Republicans have lost all three -- a first for any modern president.

He faced a criminal investigation while in office, and appears likely to face several more in the coming weeks and months.

Trump is the first modern president to leave office with fewer Americans working than when he started. He's the first modern president whose approval rating never reached 50%.

Trump's banks no longer want anything to do with him. He has massive debts coming due, and no clear way to pay them.

Social-media companies see him as a threat to public safety. Other businesses are no longer picking up the phone when they see "Trump Organization" on the caller ID.

Oh, and did I mention that few wanted to attend his going away party this morning? Which he held after denying Americans a peaceful transition of power and lacking the grace to attend his successor's inauguration?

As a candidate, Donald Trump told Americans we'd tire of all the winning. As his term ends in a half-hour, one wonders if he's tired of all the losing.