Sunday, April 19, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He gloated about forcing people to praise him.

For some time, Trump's coronavirus "briefings" have been first and foremost at reassigning blame for the federal government's response. Most of his recent efforts in that direction have been addressed at state governments. Today, for example, he claimed that the financing, distribution, and manufacture of hundreds of millions of tests—the absolute minimum necessary for a return to normalcy—was "a local thing."

He also played an edited, two-minute long clip of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo complimenting aspects of the federal response, such as the use of a Navy hospital ship to lighten the load on New York City hospitals. 

Of course, there are hours of Cuomo putting Trump on blast for his slow, inefficient, and politically motivated response to the crisis. Just this week, Trump tweeted insults at Cuomo during the New York state briefing, prompting Cuomo to tell Trump to get back to work.

More to the point, though, Trump seems to have forgotten that he has publicly demanded praise from governors and that he be "treated well" as a condition of full federal cooperation. "It's a two-way street," he said in March. He later said that he'd instructed Vice-President Pence, the leader of the task force, not to return phone calls from "that woman in Michigan" (Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer) and other political opponents.

Why should I care about this?

  • Solving problems should be a higher priority for a president than avoiding blame for them.
  • It's bad if presidents have to be sweet-talked into doing their jobs.