There Is No New Trump, Just The Same Crappy Old Narcissistic Lying Trump
Donald Trump has received some sobering news about the coronavirus crisis. No, it's not just the millions of Americans who could die if the virus is allowed to spread without mitigation or even the hundreds of thousands who could die in what passes for a “best-case" scenario. No, advisers have informed Trump that a lot of people dying painfully on his watch might cost him re-election, no matter how rosy the economic outlook is for the half-dozen billionaires and their selected mates who survive.
From the LA Times:
"Pay attention. You're going to lose the election," the former official said, summarizing the intervention.
There's nothing quite like a commander-in-chief you have to order to “pay attention" as if he's a bored teen during high school trigonometry, back in the old days when teenagers went to "high school." (Daniel Drezner hasn't added this to his "I'll believe Trump is growing into the presidency when his staff stops talking about him like a toddler" thread, but give him time!)
Still, the “intervention" worked and Trump appreciates that it's in his self-interest to at least look like he cares. This isn't really a change in Trump's personality. Terminal narcissism still guides his every move, but the media seems OK with bananas filling their tailpipes.
CNN's Jim Acosta declared Trump a changed man last night on "Anderson Cooper 360."
ACOSTA: I have to tell you Anderson, I've never seen President Trump like this. I know people may say, "well I can't ever trust him, he's a phony" and so on, people might say that.
We're very comfortable saying that. Whenever Trump reads from a teleprompter without pissing himself, some folks will insist he's suddenly Abraham Fucking Lincoln. Trump is stupid, but he can read words other people wrote for him. That doesn't mean he's no longer a monster. The day Trump killed a lot of Americans isn't the day he finally became president.
https://t.co/nQfccoKPj2— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1585701136.0
ACOSTA: But Anderson I have to tell you, sitting in that room that close to him I've never seen President Trump like this and I think to some extent he is scared right now, Anderson, and we could all feel that in the room.
We're all scared right now. Trump is way behind the curve here. He's the old guy who finally bought an iPhone in 2018 and considers himself a tech whiz. The president was bragging about the ratings for his coronavirus pressers just this weekend, but it's likely he's confronted less flattering numbers this week that show his “COVID bounce" fading. A new Politico/Morning Consult poll showed that 47 percent of voters believe he's mishandling the response to the outbreak. This was before he actually listened to Dr. Fauci and extended the social distancing guidelines for another 30 days.
we’ve reached the “trump striking a more serious tone” phase of this news cycle, setting up the inevitable imminent… https://t.co/mVLyMebt3e— Max Tani (@Max Tani)1585695412.0
ACOSTA: And I have to tell you, people may not believe the president when he says any of this.
It is not medically advisable to believe anything Trump says.
ACOSTA: I have been, you and I have been, you know, pretty critical of him from time to time, this was a different Donald Trump tonight, I think he gets it, Anderson.
Yay! The president “gets it." He “gets" that an infectious disease is ravaging the nation and killing people. There's no telling what will come from the president acknowledging reality on some small level. And to think we were worried.
Trump is not "somber," he's not "acknowledging facts" or "deferring to experts." I doubt he even has a friend in a… https://t.co/VyQWFydf9N— Emily Nussbaum (@Emily Nussbaum)1585697612.0
Eric Lipton at the New York Times agreed that Trump sounded "different" Tuesday:
Trump sounding different today. Scale of death appears to have changed his tone, at least.— Eric Lipton (@Eric Lipton)1585691142.0
Guess it takes the prospect of 200,000 people dying to change Trump's “tone." This is a disturbing version of the “lightbulb" joke. He still went on to lie his putrid ass off and attack governors who displeased him.
Trump's long-term scheme is to rewrite recent history so that the virus just landed on our heads in March without warning.
TRUMP: Nobody knew how contagious this was. I don't think any doctor new it at the time. People have not seen anything like this.
Not a single word is true, but Fox News is going to run with this. That's what your conservative relatives will insist happened. The media shouldn't praise Trump for briefly behaving like a mammal. They should hammer him on his inaction and detail how his deliberate downplaying and dismissal of the coronavirus created the current dire situation. We're facing more than 80 9/11s.
If Trump's allowed to claim credit for “preventing" millions of deaths, while over 100,000 die, the press will have enabled the greatest con of Trump's presidency.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."