In my work as a lawyer, I often find myself sitting with CEOs waiting for a verdict. So, I write statements for everybody to use if we lose. Someone once noticed that I never draft victory statements. Winning is easy: The system worked, and you smile for the camera.
It's losing that requires hard work. Losing with dignity is like aging with dignity, which is very nearly impossible. It's personal.
I can understand why President Donald Trump is having a difficult time accepting defeat. What I can't understand is why the folks around Trump aren't engaging him to discuss something way more important than all his losing lawsuits — what he hopes to do in his last two months in office, how he wants people to remember his final days.
This is one disappointment that simply cannot be fixed. There is no deal to be made. His lawyers are skirting around Rule 11, which provides sanctions for sham lawsuits, by making claims with absolutely no evidence to support them. None of these lawsuits would change the results of the election — even taken together. And to date, the only suit they've won is one about where poll watchers will stand in the next election in Pennsylvania.
In Pennsylvania, Republicans have been trying for months to convince courts that ballots postmarked on Election Day but received within three days after should not be counted. A number of states have similar rules, but Trump must have done better there. Pennsylvania has kept these ballots separate, and apparently, there were fewer than 10,000. It doesn't matter. Joe Biden is leading in Pennsylvania by 45,000 votes.
In Arizona, the Trumpers have a poll worker who says he saw other poll workers helping voters press the button to submit their ballots, another who claims that he saw 80 instances of poll workers giving confusing instructions and two voters who claim they weren't told they had a chance to fix their ballots. No one claimed that a poll worker pressed the button without the voters' consent. All told, the two lawsuits might affect somewhere between 82 and 122 votes, which hardly amounts to systemic fraud. One of the poll workers has since recanted. Biden is leading Trump by 17,000 votes.
In Michigan, which Biden won by 147,000 votes, two Republican efforts to halt vote counting because Republicans were supposedly excluded from the process were rejected by two different judges, both of whom pointed to the fact that the Trump team failed to give any details of who was excluded and where, and had "no evidence to support accusations of voter fraud."
In Nevada, the Trumpers tried and failed to block the state's most Democratic-leaning county from using a machine to automatically verify signatures. As proof, they offered up a 79-year-old legally blind woman who claimed her ballot was stolen — except it wasn't. Election officials had spoken with her at the polls and personally verified her signature. The Trumpers also announced they would be sending a list of thousands of people who voted in Nevada but live out of state. There is nothing illegal about that: The Wall Street Journal pointed out that a number of the addresses are connected to the military. In Nevada, Biden leads by nearly 37,000.
In Georgia, the Trump campaign lost a lawsuit that sought to disqualify 53 mail-in ballots because they supposedly arrived after Election Day. After a hearing, the judge threw the case out, finding no evidence that the ballots arrived late. Georgia's two Republican senators, neither of whom received a majority necessary to avoid a runoff, called on the Republican secretary of state to resign but didn't include even a single example of what they claimed were "too many failures in Georgia elections this year." Biden leads by 12,000 votes, and no one expects that a recount, provided by state law, will change the results significantly.
By the time you read this, the Trumpers will almost certainly have failed to block states from following state law in certifying their results and choosing electors. Presumably, any elections in those states that Republicans won would remain valid.
Trump cannot sue his way back to the presidency. At some point, he will run out of lawyers willing to make fools of themselves with little prospect of payment.
What he can do is make his last two months in office count, not by bringing more lawsuits, not by purging his enemies, but by focusing every day on making the economy stronger. It's the theme he wanted to run on, and it's the only song that should be playing now. Create jobs. Win the trade war. Tell your friends on Wall Street to keep the faith. Infections are up nearly 70%, according to The New York Times 14-day infection average. No one knows who will get the vaccine or how or whether it is even safe.
Susan Estrich is a lawyer and political commentator.