Sunday, May 10, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He invited comparison.

Trump spent much of Mothers' Day on his phone, tweeting and retweeting throughout the whole morning and much of the afternoon. This was one of them:

Trump is not getting "great marks" on his handling of COVID-19, at least from the American public. By enormous margins, Americans are worried that he is trying to "open up" the country sooner than it is safe or useful.

In fact, it's so grim, that even the normally confident Trump has realized it. As the Washington Post put it in an article yesterday:

Some of Trump’s advisers described the president as glum and shell-shocked by his declining popularity. In private conversations, he has struggled to process how his fortunes suddenly changed from believing he was on a glide path to reelection to realizing that he is losing to the likely Democratic nominee, former vice president Joe Biden, in virtually every poll, including his own campaign’s internal surveys, advisers said. He also has been fretting about the possibility that a bad outbreak of the virus this fall could damage his standing in the November election, said the advisers, who along with other aides and allies requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

As for the swine flu outbreak of 2009-2010, Trump may just be hoping that people reading his tweets will take his word for it. The H1N1 virus killed about 12,500 Americans between April 2009 and April 2010. By comparison, the deadliest influenza outbreak in the last 40 years came in 2017-2018—on Trump's watch—and took 80,000 American lives.

At least one independent public health expert really did give the Obama administration literal "marks" for its H1N1 response: B-plus.

Confirmed deaths from COVID-19 are at about 80,000 already, although that number appears to be severely undercounted because many Americans are dying before they can even get an initial test.

Why does this matter?

  • You probably shouldn't invite comparison with your predecessor if you're doing a much, much worse job.
  • Pretending you're popular when you aren't doesn't usually work after about third grade.