Cartoon by John McKinley
Trump Dismisses Virus, Polls and Recession to Tell Winning Story
Bloomberg: The America that President Donald Trump describes is a place where the coronavirus outbreak is only surging because of increased testing, the economy is on the verge of roaring back to life and polls showing him losing re-election in a landslide are fiction.
In the president’s telling, many of the Americans protesting police brutality are terrorists, anarchists and looters, and concerns about systemic racism are overblown. He claims that his is the most accomplished presidency in history, outshining all his predecessors but Abraham Lincoln on achievements for Black people.
Four months before Americans decide whether to return Trump to the White House, the president has constructed a narrative of the U.S. under his leadership that veers far from reality. In fact, the coronavirus outbreak is resurgent, driven in part by hasty reopenings and an emerging political divide over wearing a mask. The economy may not recover until 2021 or later. Protests against police brutality have been largely peaceful -- though there has been some looting and violence -- and more political leaders in both parties publicly acknowledge the reality of pervasive racism in police departments and American society.
And most importantly for his political future, polls show the president is rapidly losing ground to his presumptive re-election opponent, Democrat Joe Biden.
Presidential candidates often describe an aspirational vision of the country. Ronald Reagan’s “Morning in America” is held up as the model of the hopeful message voters want to hear. Trump has called himself “a cheerleader,” but his detailed descriptions of life in America today run so counter to reality that even some of his allies are urging him to change course.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, acknowledged that “there’s been a dip” in Trump’s support, adding it’s early yet. The president needs “a little more message discipline,” and to focus on subjects like the economy, he said.
“Eventually, just make it more about policy, and less about your personality,” he told reporters in the Capitol.
Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican who chairs the Finance Committee, publicly pleaded last week for Trump’s advisers to show the president a Wall Street Journal editorial warning that he faces a “repudiation” from voters.
Grassley said Saturday on Twitter that Biden might “sit in his basement and not campaign and be elected president.”
There’s little sign Trump will change direction. At the White House on Friday, Trump touted historic stock market gains, even with tens of millions of Americans still out of work and benchmark indices well below their February highs. Earlier this week he said in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network that President Barack Obama had committed “treason” in the course of a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe of Trump’s 2016 campaign.
On Thursday, Trump’s administration asked the Supreme Court to throw out the Affordable Care Act, including its protections for people with pre-existing health conditions, in its entirety -- despite the president’s frequent insistence that he will always protect such patients. He has never offered a plan to replace the law known as Obamacare.
“The administration’s decision to submit this new brief is the wrong policy at the worst possible time as our nation is in the midst of a pandemic,” Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican facing a difficult re-election contest in November, said in a statement.
On Saturday, Trump said on Twitter that he’d win re-election, once again proclaiming that a “silent majority” supports him. He boasted about high television ratings for his recent campaign events and said “these are the real polls, the Silent Majority, not FAKE POLLS!”
In an interview published Saturday by The Federalist, a conservative website, Trump said he expects to be kicked off Twitter and mused about moving to a start-up platform that’s marketed itself to disaffected conservatives, Parler.
Later, he tweeted a series of 15 Wanted posters for people alleged to have vandalized a statue near the White House. One wore a “Black Lives Matter” shirt.
No issue has pitted Trump more squarely against reality than the coronavirus. U.S. cases have hit a new daily high, with the epicenter of the outbreak shifting from New York to the southern Sunbelt states from California to Florida. Republican governors there have backtracked on reopening their economies, closing bars and restricting other activities as the president urges Americans to put the pandemic behind them.
Trump has repeatedly said, falsely, that the U.S. has more cases of Covid-19 because it’s conducting more testing for the disease. He’s also expressed skepticism that some of the reported cases are real. Trump’s aides have said they’re watching deaths more closely than total cases; deaths are still trending down but are a lagging indicator.
“You’re going to have a kid with the sniffles, and they’ll say it’s coronavirus,” he said Thursday >>>