Declaring in 2016 that “I alone can fix it,” Donald Trump made the country’s fate all about him. He promised so much “winning” we’d get sick of it, and asked “What have you got to lose?” As President he made everything into a fight between Team Trump (good) and everyone else (bad).
He bullied those he couldn’t persuade and even survived an impeachment trial. But now, confronted with a pandemic, an economic crisis, and a moment of reckoning over racism, the limit of the president’s method is obvious, and he seems on the brink of becoming the thing he most dreads: A loser.
Trump’s biggest current problem is his epic failure to address a pandemic that has killed more than 125,000 Americans. To borrow a phrase from the President, the coronavirus is raging, “like nobody’s ever seen before.” In response, governors in Trump’s deny-the-danger brigade are reversing themselves to battle the pandemic. Facemasks are now appearing in Trump Country, where more and more people want stronger public health efforts.
Where is Trump on the pandemic? Well, after hawking hydroxychloroquine, a drug that turned out to be useless, framing an abysmal federal response as a success and refusing to appear in public wearing a face mask, he all but stopped talking about it.
Nevertheless, he showed us where he stands by conducting a reckless indoor rally where, to signal their loyalty, many chose to forgo masks. More recently he sent his head cheerleader, Vice President Mike Pence, to a press conference where he lied as he said “We slowed the spread. We flattened the curve.”