At this time of year, Charles Dickens makes a regular appearance in this column. Last year, the "ghosts" of Christmas Past, Present and Future who haunted President Donald Trump were Abraham Lincoln, John McCain and Vladimir Putin. This year, the number of ghosts vying for these three roles were, as Albert Einstein observed about the universe, finite but unbounded.
Readers can pick their favorite or most trenchant ghosts. Of Christmas Past, consider these main contenders. The largest group comprises the tens of thousands of angry, duped investors and campaign contributors who lost or were taken for billions of dollars from the tsunami of Trump failed deals: the Taj Mahal and other casinos; Trump University, Airlines and Vodka; the Plaza Hotel; and most recently how campaign funds were diverted to secret accounts and possibly to Trump family pockets.
Roy Cohn, counsel to the infamous and sanctioned Sen. Joe McCarthy and his destructive pursuit of imagined Communists, is also in the hunt. The two former Mrs. Trumps might wish to haunt the president, whether in the White House or at Mar-a-Lago. While repeat ghosts are discouraged, McCain might remind the president that his demeaning comments about captured war heroes cost him the vote in Arizona and probably the election.
Whomever this Christmas Past may be, the intent is to transport the president to Central Park on the evening of April 19, 1989, as jogger Trisha Meili was raped and murdered. Five young Blacks people were wrongly arrested and convicted of a crime they did not commit. Trump ran full-page ads calling for the return of the death penalty as punishment for the so-called "Central Park Five."
Christmas Present, likewise, has a full house of aspirants. North Korean President Kim Jong Un; Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx; and a litany of senior Trump officials who left or were "fired," including Gen. Jim Mattis; James Comey; Jeff Sessions and Anthony Scaramucci. Trump would be whisked to Moscow by this ghost to watch as Russian cyber experts engineered what is probably the largest hack in history.
Christmas Future nominations are equally swelled. New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance is investigating allegations of potential business and tax fraud by the president. Potential rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination fill a robust list packed with serving senators, former governors and other senior officials. And where would Christmas Future transport the president in his final days in the White House?
Two locales are under consideration. The first is Jan. 20, 2025 when Trump will not be inaugurated as president for the second time. The second is a date in 2024, when the president and key family members are eligible for parole after convictions in 2021 for wrongdoings.
Of course, in Trump world, Dickens would tell a far happier tale. The three visiting Christmases would be filled by one figure: Fred Trump, the president's intimidating father. One can imagine the scene.
Trump is awakened by the specter of his father. "Donald, you have committed the ultimate and worst sin possible, one I have always warned you to avoid. You failed!"
"You were not re-elected. You left a path strewn with enough evidence of wrongdoing from fraud to outright lies. It is incredible that you were not convicted and thrown out of office after the impeachment. You were lucky that the Democrats were so incompetent. Cy Vance may not be so forgiving."
For the first time since his father's death, the president was speechless. Winning his father's favor had driven the younger Trump. In a weak and quaking voice, the president asked his father where they were headed during these visitations.
"We are making only one stop: Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2025." Suddenly floating above Washington, Trump saw massive crowds flooding into the National Mall. In front of the Capitol, President Joe and first lady Jill Biden were on the stage next to the chief justice. But where was he, Donald Trump, as it was approaching noon and the swearing-in of the next president?
Trump never got the answer. He woke immediately in his bedroom. His father was still present. "Son, I know the future. I purposely did not allow you to see who the next president will be. That is up to you."
"But I have one warning. Do not fail again. If you do, you will never be welcome in the Trump family again. I guarantee you that."
Still shaken and shaking, Trump stuttered, "What do I need to do?"
"Win next time -- or else!"
Thus began the ex-president's next campaign and another Christmas Carol story.
Harlan Ullman is UPI's Arnaud de Borchgrave Distinguished Columnist and author of the upcoming book, "The Fifth Horseman and the New MAD: The Tragic History of How Massive Attacks of Disruption Are Endangering, Infecting, Engulfing and Disuniting a 51% Nation."