Trump's daily coronavirus discussions have become less about defeating the virus and more about his feuds with the press and his political enemies.
Even the Wall Street journal editorial board, normally a Trump supporter, is critical of Trump’s Wasted Briefings.
Sometime in the last three weeks Mr. Trump seems to have concluded that the briefings could be a showcase for him. Perhaps they substitute in his mind for the campaign rallies he can no longer hold because of the risks. Perhaps he resented the media adulation that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been receiving for his daily show. Whatever the reason, the briefings are now all about the President.
They last for 90 minutes or more, and Mr. Trump dominates the stage. His first-rate health experts have become supporting actors, and sometimes barely that, ushered on stage to answer a technical question or two. Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the task force, doesn’t get on stage until the last 15 minutes or so. That becomes the most informative part of the session, since Mr. Pence understandably knows details the President doesn’t.
One of the ironies of this Presidency is that Mr. Trump claims to despise the press yet so eagerly plays its game. Every reporter knows the way to get a TV moment, and get a pat on the back from newsroom pals, is to bait Mr. Trump with a question about his previous statements or about criticism that someone has leveled against him. Mr. Trump always takes the bait.
On Tuesday Mr. Trump was asked, in a typically tendentious question, why he had compared the coronavirus to the flu. Instead of saying he had been hoping for the best but was wrong when he'd said that, he got into a fight over the severity of the flu. This sort of exchange usually devolves into a useless squabble that helps Mr. Trump’s critics and contributes little to public understanding.
The President’s outbursts against his political critics are also notably off key at this moment. This isn’t impeachment, and Covid-19 isn’t shifty Schiff. It’s a once-a-century threat to American life and livelihood.
This post is sure to bring up the TDS discussion again so I will put that to bed quickly.
I praised Trump, on March 29, for his initial national address. For details, please see Trump Worried About 2.2 Million Deaths, Extends Shutdown Through April. Here is the key snip.
Trump displayed a quality I have never seen in him before: empathy. He spoke of black body bags as long as trucks and said "it's not supplies, it's people. I've never seen anything like it."
In reference to Italy, Trump says "We got lucky".
That's certainly a new behavior.
Importantly, Trump finally took the advice of his medical team seriously.
Media Circus Transformation
I differ with the Wall Street Journal in the timing of transformation to circus format. I think it started at the end of March or beginning of April.
But yes, it's here. And yes, Trump takes the bait every time either directly by answering a question or indirectly by belittling a reporter for asking.
The Trump faithful love these exchanges. I see the comments every day on Twitter.
Trump confuses tactics that won the election for him in 2016 with what it takes in 2020. The same thing happened to Jeremy Corbyn in the last UK election.
I called that in advance and discussed it in Labour Slaughtered, Corbyn Refuses to Admit He is the Reason.
Democrats avoided the same fate by avoiding Sanders.
The Trump Faithful Don't Matter
Trump likes to excite his true believers and they cheer him wildly over these exchanges.
Heck, they cheer him wildly over anything and everything including his absurd coronavirus prediction: "15 cases soon headed to zero".
For election purposes, the true believers do not not matter. They will never vote for Biden under any circumstances.
But what about the swing voters sick of Trump's self-praise?
It's the independents who voted for Trump because they could not stand Hillary that matter.
Neither the coronavirus nor the recession will do Trump in.
Rather, it's a combination of self-adulation, lies, and feuds that Trump starts or fuels that will cost him the election in November.
Here's the ultimate election irony: Trump will not blame himself for the loss, just like Hillary.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock