Sunday, March 29, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He found a pandemic statistic he can take seriously.

For the first three years of his presidency—and well into the current pandemic outbreak—Trump took a leisurely approach to his day job. He'd typically leave Washington three days a week for golfing and dining amongst supporters at one of his luxury resorts. And when he did spend weekdays in the White House, his approach to the daily routine forced his staff to come up with a euphemism—"executive time"—for his habit of watching TV and tweeting during business hours.

But when Trump realized in mid-March that his lackadaisical approach to the coronavirus would hurt him politically, he began making it part of his campaign. He started making daily appearances at White House briefings that television networks can't really refuse to air. Today, he came right out and admitted it, in a series of jubilant tweets bragging about the ratings numbers those briefings have been getting.

Trump, whose only genuine professional success has come as a reality TV star and producer, has an expert's appreciation for the nuances of Nielsen ratings. When fellow Republican and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger criticized him early in his term, Trump responded by mocking his TV ratings

Among the numbers that Trump didn't tweet about today were the total number of Americans who have tested positive with COVID-19 (141,000, as of 7:30 p.m. EDT), or who have died (at least 2,400), or who have lost their jobs in the last week (at least 3.3 million, not counting small business owners and independent contractors).

Why does this matter?

  • The health and safety of Americans is more important than Donald Trump's TV ratings.