“When it comes to hanging on to an alternative version of reality, Mr. Trump has plenty of nonpresidential company.”

From a New York Times story by Sarah Lyall headlined “As Trump Digs In, A Look at Others Who Refused to Go”:

As the nation ponders the awkward case of Donald J. Trump, a president who will not admit that he has been fired, it is helpful to consider him through the experiences of other people, fictional and otherwise, who have been unable to accept the arrival of unwelcome developments in their personal and professional lives.

Is Trump like King Lear, raging naked on the heath and desperately hanging on to the increasingly diminished trappings of power even as they are stripped from him? Or is he more like Bartleby the Scrivener, the inscrutable model of passive resistance who one day declines to do any more work or indeed leave the building, declaring: “I would prefer not to?”

Is he like Nellie, the character in “The Office” who installs herself at the desk of the regional manager when he is out of town and unilaterally appoints herself boss? Or how about George from “Seinfeld,” who quits one of his many jobs in a huff, unsuccessfully tries to get it back, and reports to work anyway, as if nothing had happened?

Timothy Naftali, a history professor at New York University, said that one way to view Mr. Trump would be as a version of Miss Havisham, the jilted bride from “Great Expectations” who lives forever in the past, never taking off her tattered wedding gown even as her house decays around her.

“He’s wearing the cloak of the presidency and he’s stuck in his room, getting dusty, while everyone else has moved on,” Mr. Naftali said.

No president in American history has ever before refused for so long to concede an election he has obviously lost. But when it comes to hanging on to an alternative version of reality, Mr. Trump has plenty of nonpresidential company.

There was Eteocles, a son of Oedipus in Greek mythology, who remained on the throne of Thebes, reneging on his promise to share it with his twin brother, leading to a battle in which they killed each other. . . .

There was the Hiroo Onoda, the Imperial Japanese Army officer who would not surrender after the end of World War II, remaining in combat-readiness in the jungle for 29 years until his by-then elderly former commanding officer arrived and rescinded his no-surrender order. . . .

While American presidential transfers of power have traditionally been smooth, well-run affairs, world history is replete with examples of dictators and strongmen employing nefarious means to remain in office. Sometimes such rulers refuse to accept the results of honestly conducted elections. . . .

Meanwhile, many Republican legislators, loath to upset Mr. Trump, are helping to prop up the illusion that he is still somehow in power, in a way reminiscent of the courtiers who flattered, lied and enabled their way through the final days of Emperor Haile Selasse’s reign in Ethiopia in Ryszard Kapuscinski’s “The Emperor.”

Interestingly enough, there appears to be some precedent for this within the Trump family itself. When the president’s father, Fred, developed Alzheimer’s, the family reportedly conspired to help him believe that he still ran the Trump organization. According to Vanity Fair, the elder Mr. Trump would show up for work every day, signing blank papers and using an office phone connected only to his secretary’s line. “Fred pretended to work,” a family friend told the magazine.

With his vast coterie of enablers willing to believe his baseless assertions about the election, Mr. Naftali said, Trump might be better compared to the Wizard in “The Wizard of Oz.”. . .

How about flattery?

On Twitter, the Trump-admiring journalist Geraldo Rivera compared the president to a heavyweight champion who knows he has lost but grittily fights on in case he can eke out a victory. His lyrical description — “Still, he’s going to answer the final bell, looking for the knockout he knows is a long shot”— inadvertently brings to mind the delusional Black Knight in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” who won’t surrender even after his arms and legs have been hacked off. (“Tis but a scratch,” the knight declares. “What are you going to do, bleed on me?” King Arthur responds.)

As for the former ambassador’s wife who overstays her welcome in “Don’t Tell Alfred,” embassy officials decide that the best way to evict her is to deprive her of the attention she craves. “We must bore her out,” an official says.

Finally, reluctantly, she leaves, taking on a diva-ish air of wounded glamour as she encounters a crowd of guests arriving for a party to which she has not been invited.

“She shook hands, like a royal person,” Nancy Mitford writes, “as she sailed out of the house forever.”

Sarah Lyall is a writer at large, working for a variety of desks including Sports, Culture, Media and International. Previously she was a correspondent in the London bureau, and a reporter for the Culture and Metro Desks.

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