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Opinion

Trump’s Legacy: an American Baghdad Bob?


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Oct. 04, 2021 - 1:00 PM

Trump’s Legacy: an American Baghdad Bob?

Marc Hyden is the director of state government affairs at the R Street Institute, and he is a long-time Georgia resident. You can follow him on Twitter at @marc_hyden.

While most former presidents spend their time writing memoirs, volunteering for charities and quietly working to redefine their legacies, former President Donald J. Trump has settled on a road less traveled.

He has eschewed his predecessors’ examples and seems determined to reject the relatively quiet life of an elder statesman.

Rather, he continues to loudly propagate outlandish claims of a stolen election. In doing so, he risks being remembered not for the roaring economy or COVID-19 vaccine efforts he oversaw, but for being America’s Baghdad Bob, and recent evidence of this comes from Arizona and his rally in Perry, Georgia.

For those who don’t remember, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf—derisively nicknamed Baghdad Bob—was Minister of Media and Foreign Affairs under the Saddam Hussein regime. He crashed onto the international scene during the American invasion of Iraq. Despite U.S. troops pouring into Baghdad and sweeping across the country, Sahaf uttered ridiculous falsehoods to the media.

With American soldiers nearby, he exclaimed, “They're not even [within] 100 miles [of Baghdad]. They are not in any place. They hold no place in Iraq. This is an illusion ... they are trying to sell to the others an illusion.” He spread a host of similar lies and claimed that the Iraqis had crushed the Americans. As a result, “Sahaf's nickname, ‘Baghdad Bob,’ now denotes someone who confidently declares what everyone else can see is false—someone so wrong, it's funny,” wrote the Atlantic.

Similarly, Trump has remained in what appears to be a constant state of election denial since losing his presidential bid almost 11 months ago. He’s blamed almost everything and everyone from fraud to voting machines, and from governors to secretaries of state, but he has yet to blame himself for the electoral rebuke.

Likewise, many of his staunchest supporters share conspiracy theories and keep seeking proof of widespread fraud. After over 60 elections lawsuits and many audits, including here in Georgia, nothing has demonstrated that there was any form of rampant fraud that would have swayed the election. Despite this, some have continued to press for further audits, including recently in Arizona, to find elusive evidence of a supposed grand conspiracy, but the truth is much simpler: Trump just lost.

This hasn’t stopped the 45th president. As the release of the Arizona voting audit approached, on September 24, Trump released this statement: “Huge findings in Arizona! However, the Fake News Media is already trying to “call it” again for Biden before actually looking at the facts—just like they did in November! The audit has uncovered significant and undeniable evidence of FRAUD!” That doesn’t seem to be the case. According to the Washington Post, the Arizona ballot review spokesman said, “Was there massive fraud or anything? It doesn’t look like it.”

A couple days later, Trump traveled to Georgia where he held a rally in Perry, took shots at fellow Republicans and spent considerable time bemoaning the election results. He claimed, “Now you have to remember that Georgia was decided by only 11,779 votes, so I only needed one more vote than that to win the election. But we have many, many more votes than we needed to win the election.” Three audits in Georgia appear to have thoroughly debunked that claim, but he continues to push this narrative anyway.

The bottom line is that Trump hasn’t been able to prove these assertions. Rather, all available and legitimate evidence demonstrates that Trump lost and our voting systems are safe and secure. Of course, there always will be some irregularities, and isolated instances of fraud are sure to happen in elections with nearly 160 million voters. But these are little more than a blip on the radar and have never been enough to influence the outcome of presidential elections.

Never one to shy away from the limelight, Trump has long been rumored to be preparing for another run for the White House. If he chooses to pursue this path, he’d be wise not to complain about the past but look to the future, but it’s just as likely that he is done with running for office. Either way, he may want to repair his image.

So long as Trump obsesses over silly election conspiracy theories and complains of a fraudulent election—claims that most Americans see as clearly false—he will ensure that his legacy is not like that of respected former presidents. Instead, he may be remembered as our very own Baghdad Bob. Certainly, that’s not what he wants.

Marc Hyden is the director of state government affairs at the R Street Institute, and he is a long-time Georgia resident. You can follow him on Twitter at @marc_hyden.