Casey Seiler: Trump in the beanbag

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“If the president needs to take a few days or longer to absorb, ultimately accept — and I think he ultimately will accept — the outcome of the people, you have to allow that to happen.”

— Former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, on Fox News on Nov. 7

Great figures in American history, from the Founding Fathers on down, have given us inspirational words on the duties that accompany the abundant benefits of citizenship.

John F. Kennedy famously said, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” To be sure, he said it during the same period when he was, according to multiple accounts, imperiling his presidency by heedlessly conducting serial extramarital affairs, but still.

The events of the past week have once again reminded us that the highest responsibility of citizenship — above charity and maybe even military service — is the solemn work of protecting the feelings of our president after he loses an election.

Right now, Donald J. Trump is refusing to acknowledge what Ari Fleischer has referred to as “the outcome of the people,” otherwise known as the fact that — and I’m trying to be sensitive here — Trump will be obliged to pack up and leave the White House in a little more than two months. Will he have to give up the vast powers afforded to U.S. presidents? Maybe — but let’s take these things one step at a time.

The president is well-known to have what might be referred to as an exceedingly strong sense of self, making it all the more important that everyone around him — and that means you and me — should conduct ourselves in a respectful manner so the commander-in-chief can process things. It’s simply unfair to expect a U.S. president to recognize reality after a mere week or two.

Instead, let us all comport ourselves by taking the example of the minor players in the movie “The Truman Show,” in which Jim Carrey’s naif slowly comes to realize that since birth he has been the protagonist of an elaborate TV reality show. These background characters exist to tell Truman that his reality is good and comforting. When we elected a reality TV star as our president, we knew what we were getting into. It is, in the immortal words of Van Morrison, too late to stop now.

Some will grumble that preserving the president’s ego enables his refusal to provide President-elect Joe Biden with the resources necessary to accomplish an effective transition between administrations, and that the nation’s security is placed in jeopardy whenever an incoming president loses even a day of robust preparation for the task at hand.

I, for one, believe that sacrifice is the very soul of civic-mindedness. And if we weren’t able to handle a little risk in order to protect the president’s tender emotions, why did we go to the trouble of walking around maskless at his rallies so often?

What about Biden’s feelings, you ask?

Hey: He’s not president yet.

With Kennedy’s eloquence in mind, it is time for us to ask what we can do for our president in his time of need.

Above all else, we must avoid triggering him — primarily to spare his feelings, but also because he remains in charge of the nation’s thermonuclear arsenal.

Think of the president as an elderly maiden aunt at teatime who shouldn’t have to be reminded of the swain who jilted her 60 years ago.

So when someone makes a big deal out of the fact that Biden is the first Democrat without a Southern accent to win Georgia since the aforementioned Kennedy, it’s just mean.

When your friends around the firepit point out that Biden’s win in Arizona marks only the second time that a Democrat has won the state since Harry S. Truman in 1948 — a loss almost certainly related to Trump’s long history of insulting Copper State hero John McCain — call them out for being thoughtless.

Whenever someone bursts into the kitchen to loudly note that Biden is on track to amass an Electoral College tally of 306, the exact same number that Trump called “a massive landslide victory” when he racked it up in 2016 (albeit with fewer people voting), tell them they’re being hurtful.

You think it’s “fun” to note in public that Biden appears likely to win a national popular-vote margin of more than 5 million? Actually, it’s more than thoughtless — it’s rude.

Didn’t four years of trying not to mention the president’s popular-vote loss in 2016 teach you anything about empathy?

Some will point to the ancient folk wisdom that “Politics ain’t beanbag” to justify raising these points, and others.

But speaking as someone who spent endless hours of my childhood in a beanbag chair — playing Atari, reading comic books, watching bootlegged premium cable — I can assure you that it is a good and peaceful state of being.

Picture the president there next to me, staring at the tube. Doesn’t he seem happy, or at least peaceful? 518-454-5619 @CaseySeiler