Sunday, March 22, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He tried and failed to stay on his coronavirus message.

Trump spent a rare Sunday in the White House today—if only because his usual three-day-a-week residence, his luxury resort Mar-a-Lago, was closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But in what is becoming the new normal, Trump also appeared at a coronavirus-themed press conference, his ninth in nine days.

These briefings have mostly been heavy on promises, light on specifics, and above all, aimed at convincing Americans that Trump is not responsible for anything that might or might not happen. That's a tall order, with millions of Americans expected to get sick and the economic recovery that Trump inherited now in shambles.

By that standard, today's press conference was a mixed bag. Trump read some lines from his prepared script that almost recalled normal presidential rhetoric about Americans being united in a common cause. But he also made dark jokes about his political enemies getting sick, lashed out at reporters, and complained that being president was costing him money. (That last part is, now, probably true. Trump's hotels and resorts will be badly hurt by the consequences of the United States' poor preparation for the pandemic—though he's also hinted he'll use taxpayer money to bail himself out.)

Then, a few hours later, Trump tweeted this:

There is now near-universal belief that the United States will fall into a deep recession (and indeed is already in one). More importantly, even in the mildest projections, millions of Americans are expected to be sickened by the virus and hundreds of thousands are expected to die. (Eleven more deaths were reported during Trump's conference today.) 

Trump didn't say what "cure" he thought would be worse than this.

UPDATE, March 23: Trump, who is notoriously susceptible to manipulation by cable TV, appears to have written this tweet after watching a Fox news host use almost exactly the same language

Why should I care about this?

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