Donald Trump and his advisors believe that "his reelection hopes hinge almost entirely on his ability to manage" the coronavirus crisis, according to Politico. "While they acknowledge his initial response was lacking and that the virus poses a mortal threat to his 2020 prospects, they foresee a possible silver lining. If the virus passes and businesses and schools reopen before the election, they say, the president could present himself as the protagonist in an American comeback story." Trump is ostentatiously trying to sell himself as a steely-eyed "wartime president."
Meanwhile, some in the Democratic camp are wringing their hands over the possibility that the regime will send stimulus checks out to Americans struggling with the economic fallout of the pandemic, and doing so will dramatically improve his public image.
But there are a couple of problems with the Trump team's strategy and with Democrats' sense of foreboding.
First and foremost among them is video. While Trump's conservative propagandists are furiously gaslighting America with the claim that Trump never called the COVID-19 outbreak a "hoax," there's video of him saying just that. It's just one example in a series of consequential lies and gross self-flattery that have marked his communication to the public as markets meltdown in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime public health crisis.
"This is their new hoax!" A compilation of what Trump's been saying about #COVID19 since January. There are now 4,2… https://t.co/t7OxlEXp1w— Ian Fraser (@Ian Fraser)1584492321.0
Trump can't help himself. He is a narcissist and a bullshitter, and making it up as he goes along has served him well until now. But it won't serve him well as a very real and unspinnable disaster progresses.
It has been 22 days since Trump said, “because of all we’ve done, the risk to the American people remains very low. … within a couple of days [the number of cases] is going to be down to close to zero." As of this writing, the US has over 13,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and experts say that we're probably months away from the peak in infections.
Even if we succeed in "flattening the infection curve," it is not possible to bullshit away the illnesses, deaths, economic shocks and social upheaval to come over the next months. Every time he opens his mouth and claims he's doing a great job, or otherwise says up is down, Trump is cutting ads for the eventual Democratic nominee and opposing independent expenditure groups. He is his own worst enemy.
Trump explaining his reluctance to actually use the Defense Production Act to ramp up medical infrastructure: “gove… https://t.co/paiJdHnexv— John Harwood (@John Harwood)1584634383.0
The @US_FDA has released a statement saying this is categorically not true, and they have not approved *any*… https://t.co/j5NLctBcSB— Max Burns (@Max Burns)1584642348.0
Asked why he isn't pulling the trigger re using Defense Production Act, Trump says: "Governors are supposed to be d… https://t.co/tFgGX64wbL— Daniel Dale (@Daniel Dale)1584634351.0
"The 500 million N95 air-filtering respirator masks President Donald Trump said the federal government ordered coul… https://t.co/wAfFkqH2tw— Josh Eidelson (@Josh Eidelson)1584649441.0
Today, the Trump campaign said that the virus is an "attack" from China. But back in January, when many of us we… https://t.co/TGRFbGzY8p— Ronald Klain (@Ronald Klain)1584622594.0
As to the possibility that Trump will win over his critics by sending out stimulus checks, that's not a likely scenario. First, because over half of the country has been steadfast in their disapproval of Trump despite three years of strong economic growth and low unemployment. Second, rightly or wrongly, people blame the party that occupies the White House for bad economic conditions, and we're about to enter some very tough times.
In 2008, George W. Bush responded to the collapse of the housing bubble by sending most Americans relief checks, and he had a 28 percent approval rating on that Election Day, according to Gallup.