I sat watching in astonishment. The one who couldn’t bear to show up to concede was not, as expected, Donald Trump, but Hillary Clinton.
I thought the hard-core support for Trump had dwindled down to a hardy band of loyalists: Rudy, Newt, Chris, Sarah, Kellyanne, Omarosa, the kids, Melania — the woman who told him “If you run, you’ll win” — Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Matt Drudge, Ann Coulter, Jeff Sessions, Corey Lewandowski, Steve Bannon, Hope Hicks, David Bossie, Alex Jones, Bill Mitchell, Mike Pence and my brother, Kevin.
The Republican establishment couldn’t stand Trump. The Democratic establishment mocked him. The Republican nominee didn’t even really seem to have much of a campaign. He spent more on “Make America Great” hats than on polling. When I visited his campaign headquarters this summer, there were more pictures, paintings and cardboard cutouts of Trump around than Trump advisers. If you don’t count Newt Gingrich — and I don’t — only one major political historian, Allan Lichtman, had predicted that Trump would win.
But then the impossible happened. As Salena Zito had presciently written in The Atlantic: “The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.”
When the Apocalypse came at midnight and the TV analysts — even on Fox — were scrambling to reverse their analyses and justify their bad polling data; and the stock exchanges had to temporarily halt the futures market because it was falling too fast, and the world was spinning off its axis, I called my conservative brother to see what the heck was going on.