Reading the tea leaves: Trump won't run for a second term

Like everyone else I know, I grossly underestimated Donald Trump.  He was so radically different from any man I'd ever seen in politics, he broke the mold so completely, that I figured he couldn't possibly know what he was doing.  He was so strange that I didn't even attempt to get inside his head.  

Then not only did he win, but so far he's had the most successful administration since James K. Polk.  So I've been trying hard to figure him out for over a year now, and the idea that he'd run for a second term at the age of 74 has always seemed to me to make no sense.  I'm only nine months older than he is, and I got to see him up close at a rally in Reno during the campaign.  Running for office, and serving as president, is wearing him out.  No one understands this better than his wife.  His welfare is her chief concern.  But the man is a mystery, so who knows?  

Today, I finally got a tell.  He won't admit it yet, but he will not seek re-election.

Nancy Reagan, like Melania Trump, was the guardian of her husband and his place in history.  She did a great job, except in her 1985 choice of a presidential biographer.  She picked Edmund Morris, based on his wonderful biography of Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Rex.  Her misjudgement resulted in Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan, the worst presidential "biography" ever written.

Melania Trump is determined not to repeat Nancy's mistake, and with a little more than a thousand days left in his term, she has chosen Ronald Kessler* as the official biographer of President Donald Trump.  She wants a sympathetic treatment of her husband, herself, and her whole family.  President Trump has agreed.  This will be a fascinating book, whenever it appears. 

Kessler spills the beans to the Daily Caller in this article, "The Real Donald Trump."  None of us knew, until now, that Trump was such a nice guy!  Or that Melania exercises so much control over him.  Kessler's not stupid, and he knows that this is the opportunity of his professional career.  Melania had to have loved it.  Kessler knows whom he reports to.

In order to avoid weakening himself by becoming a lame duck, Trump will insist that he's running for a second term until the last minute.  Don't believe him.  It makes no sense, and Melania's actions speak louder than his words.

So our next president might be Mike Pence, or Mike Pompeo, or some other Trump loyalist.  But it won't be Donald Trump.  We can all get ready for the most interesting post-presidency in American history.  Because Donald Trump is one of a kind – an American original.

Fritz Pettyjohn is a retired Alaska state senator who blogs at the Reagan Project and promotes the Mason Amendment to the Constitution.

*An earlier version mis-identified the author of the coming biography, apologies to Glenn Kessler.

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